Speakers Corner, Everett


Intersection of Hewitt and Wetmore Avenues, Everett

Hewitt Avenue was named for Henry Hewitt, Jr., a wealthy lumberman and real estate investor from Tacoma. (150) Along with fellow investors Charles Colby and John D. Rockefeller, Hewitt started the Everett Land Company in 1890. Within the year, the site boomed with the addition of a nail factory, barge works, a paper mill, and a smelter. The new town was called “Everett” after Colby’s son and nicknamed the City of Smokestacks. The Everett Land Company continued to invest in the new city until it became a bustling economic center with 5,600 residents. When the depression of 1893 occurred, Hewitt was ousted from the Everett Land Company and Colby took over. After the depression ended in 1899, the company that made Everett an industrial center changed its name to the Everett Improvement Company. (151)

Speakers Corner—on the NW corner of Wetmore Avenue and Hewitt Avenue— is a contributing site in the Hewitt Avenue Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. (152) The corner was a popular place for public speakers, especially disgruntled workers representing Everett’s large working class. However, public speaking at this location was outlawed when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) chose Speakers Corner from which to protest against the low wages and dangerous working conditions at local mills and factories. A woman was even pulled off a soapbox for reciting the Declaration of Independence. (153)

In August of 1916, a fight broke out against striking workers at the Jamison shingle mill. (154) Police violently beat IWW speakers and prohibited them from coming back to Everett. On October 30, 1916, 41 IWW members were once again beaten for violating this ban by trying to protest at Speakers Corner. (155) One hundred and fifty policemen forced the Wobblies to run a gauntlet in which many were impaled on cattle guards. (156) This sparked the event known as the Everett Massacre. (157) On November 5, 1916, 300 IWW members traveled to Everett to support the Jamison shingle mill workers; they were met by police who opened fire on them. Five workers and two policemen were killed, while 30 more were wounded—the bloodiest labor dispute in the Pacific Northwest. (158) Unknown numbers were lost in the bay and the National Guard was deployed to extinguish the outbreak; 74 Wobblies were arrested and only one was released. The highly publicized event became a turning point in America’s labor policies. (159)

(150) “Hewitt Avenue Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places Nomination, 2011
(151) Ibid
(152) Ibid
(153) “Bloody Sunday: The Everett Massacre,” Everett Museum. November 4, 2011
(154) “Hewitt Avenue Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places, 2011
(155) Ibid
(156) “Bloody Sunday: The Everett Massacre,” Everett Museum. November 4, 2011
(157) “Hewitt Avenue Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places, 2011
(158) Ibid
(159) “Bloody Sunday: The Everett Massacre,” Everett Museum. November 4, 2011

  • 2908 Hewitt Avenue (Hoogkamer, 2013)

    2908 Hewitt Avenue (Hoogkamer, 2013)

  • Hewitt and Wetmore Avenues (NW Room, circa 1900)

    Hewitt and Wetmore Avenues (NW Room, circa 1900)

  • Hewitt and Wetmore (NW Room, circa 1920)

    Hewitt and Wetmore (NW Room, circa 1920)

  • (Everett Cyber Tour of Historic Places)

    (Everett Cyber Tour of Historic Places)

  • Jamison Lumber & Shingle Co (NW Room, circa 1915)

    Jamison Lumber & Shingle Co (NW Room, circa 1915)

  • IWW Meeting (NW Room, circa 1916)

    IWW Meeting (NW Room, circa 1916)