Group learns Waterville history

The group that participated in the June 16 walking history tour of Waterville gathers in front of the Waterville Historic Hotel on the last stop of the tour. They are Melvin Holes, Eileen Bone, Gloria Bond, tour leader Jenna Dixon (dressed as Beulah Brown) and Marie Bond. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

If you are a Waterville resident, you probably know the locations of town hall, the Waterville Historic Hotel, the Coyote Pass Café, the Nifty Theatre, the post office, Waterville Family Grocery and North Cascades Bank like the back of your hand. You know that the Waterville Library has newly moved into the building that used to be the Yesteryear Quilt Shop, and you know that the Douglas County Historical Society Thrift Shop is a great place to browse. You also know the other buildings that make up Waterville Main Street — some with thriving businesses inside and some waiting for someone to do something that would bring back their past glory.

However, depending on how old you are and how long you have lived in town, you may be surprised and interested to know how these buildings were used in the past 100 or more years.

With the purpose of better acquainting residents with Waterville’s historic buildings, Jenna Dixon, current owner and resident of the Nifty Theatre, is leading a series of historic walking tours of Main Street this summer. The first tour was held on June 16.

A group of Waterville residents met in front of the Douglas County Museum and walked along the south side of Main Street to the Nifty Theatre, stopping at each building to learn a little something new about it.

For the tour, Dixon was dressed as Beulah Brown, wife of William Nifty Brown, who built the Nifty Theatre 100 years ago.

After crossing the street at the Nifty. the group learned that William Brown kept his race horses at the site where the USDA and Farm Service Agency building is now located.

They then learned about each building on the north side of the street and finished at the Waterville Historic Hotel.

Among the tour guests were Melvin Holes, Gloria Bond and Marie Bond. The family members moved to Waterville in 2014 and said that they previously weren’t particularly familiar with the history of the town.

They all found the information in the tour quite interesting. Holes was especially surprised by how many saloons used to be in town.

Three tours are left this summer. They will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. July 14, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15. For more information, contact Dixon during the evenings at (509) 393-6684.