ARLINGTON – If these walls could talk, they would say “read the one over there that’s wallpapered with pages from 1964 Arlington Times.”
When the Transition Program moved into its new home in the district-owned house on French Avenue, district maintenance crews making improvements came across a wall in one of the rooms plastered with vintage newsprint from The Times. Features included banner, masthead, headlines, news, sports – and advertisements for fresh whole cut-up fryers for 35 cents a pound at Safeway.
The Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society knew the history behind the newspapered wall. They were the ones who put it there.
Society President Ruth Caesar said the organization was looking for new office space in 2014, and the school district had a house on French sitting vacant. They approached then district Executive Director of Operations Sid Logan about using the main floor while the upstairs remained for storage, and he was open to the proposal.
As they were designing the meeting space and other rooms, Society member and library director Michelle Heiderer had an idea.
“She had seen French newspapers on a wall, and she thought that would be a great look” using the local newspaper, Caesar said. The old wallpaper was full of holes, so Heiderer went to work, and she used the same concept for the valances in the windows. “We had multiple Arlington Times copies of the year that we used. She was able to make it look beautiful and still preserve history. Michelle did a great job.”
The newsprint wall remains intact at the French house, which was used at the time as a conference room and doubled as a resource and reference section.
School District Spokesman Gary Sabol thought the wallpaper looked unique when he first saw it.
“It shows how we’ve evolved over the years; it’s a snapshot of life in Arlington,” Sabol said. Reading the actual newsprint also leaves the impression that “much as things change, they stay the same.”
The genealogical society moved to its current location at 6111 188th Place NE in 2016.