A century of service — Enumclaw library celebrates 100 years

Stop by the local library today, between 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., to learn some history about the institution.

The Enumclaw library is celebrating 100 years of serving city residents.

On Nov. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the library will be displaying photos and artifacts highlighting the history of the library, which you can read some of below.

There will also be speakers to talk about that history, including Library Board Chairperson, Enumclaw Plateau Historical Society President, and Courier-Herald columnist Rich Elfers and KCLS Deputy Director Angie Miraflor, starting at 5:45 p.m.

There will be hat decorating for younger kids, and button-making for tweens and teens.

The Friends of the Enumclaw Library will be providing refreshments.


Enumclaw has had a library in some form since 1923.

According to History Link, two libraries — a Danish Community Library and another at a local Presbyterian Church — predated the Enumclaw Public Library, which first started in City Hall before moving into town founder Mary Stevenson Yerxa’s home when she died in 1928.

When the library got too big, the home was torn down and a new, larger building was constructed in its place.

The library collection continued to grow, and in 1952, it was clear that another new location was needed, and the Library Board decided to build it on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Wells Street.

With the help of the voters, who “overwhelmingly” passed a $25,000 bond measure (1097 votes to 311), as well as the Weyerhaeuser Timber Foundation, a new library was open by February 1954.

The library’s popularity continued to grow and in 1983, the city of Enumclaw began planning for another library building on former Burlington Northern Railroad land.

But for the first time, the library hit some snags in that plan.

In 1988, a $1.25 million bond measure was rejected by voters by just a few votes; it was even reported in the Sept. 28 edition of the Courier-Herald that it was passing by 273 votes, but the final count, reported on Oct. 5, saw support for the bond drop under 60% by just four votes.

“There’s somewhat of a tax revolt going on now. People are about to get their fill of taxes,” said then-Councilmember John Martin at the time. “They didn’t consider all the other sites that could have been used, and there was no tie in with other facilities, live a civic center or arts center or a senior center.”

Undeterred, the City Council put another bond on the May 16, 1989 ballot, which passed by a resounding 72% of the vote.

Except, there was an error in the title of the ballot measure — it was missing the phrase “in excess of regular property tax levies”, which meant voters could have construed the measure meant construction for the library would be funded through their regular property taxes, and not an additional property tax — and the bond agent refused to sell Enumclaw the bond without that language.

A third bond measure, on the November 1989 ballot, passed with 63% approval.

A groundbreaking for the 10,541 square-foot building was held on Aug. 21, 1990, and volunteers moved more than 40,000 items into the new building before it opened to the public on Sept. 28, 2991.

At that time, Enumclaw operated the library, but over the years, funding was chipped away. Too keep the library open, voters decided to annex the facility into the King County Library System; the measure passed in April 17, 2012 by 34 votes, according to the Courier-Herald