If walls could talk, T.C. Van Eaton’s little log cabin out at the Millpond Park would have a lot to say.
When T.C. Van Eaton purchased the dense woods that would one day become Eatonville, the first home he and his brother-in-law Nate Williams constructed was that little 17’ x 27’ cabin, make of split boards they planed by hand and a split shake roof. The year was 1889.
Store & Home
The little cabin’s first life was that of both home and store. The Van Eaton’s lived in the back (I’m not sure how much “back” there is in a 17×27 cabin) and three Van Eatonville children were born there between 1894 and 1998. Up front was a trading post where people coming to make the forested spot their home bought supplies.
In 1890, the trading post became the town’s first post office, with T. C. listed as postmaster. It remained the post office until 1895, when he moved it to his new, large store on the corner of Mashell and Center.
After T.C. built his new home on top of the hill and a smaller one for his mom next door — both of which are still standing today — the cabin became the town’s first bakery.
The picture of T.C. Van Eaton was taken outside the Chamberlain Bakery and his new home visible on the hillside.
The cabin didn’t stay a bakery for long. Eatonville was growing and the Chamberlains built another bakery, which is the building we know today as Postnet.
The little cabin (which sat behind where Key Bank is today) was next incorporated into the Hotel Snow, built in 1912. (In the picture of the hotel you can spot the “log cabin“ section to the right.)
The motel advertised home cooking, clean rooms and a view of Mount Rainier. Their ad also read “Always Pleased to Accommodate Commercial Men and Automobile Parties Entertained.” Rates were $2 a night.
The Hotel Snow, which later became the Eatonville Hotel, was eventually torn down but the cabin had yet another life to live.
The cabin was relocated to the Millpond Park where it’s maintained by the South Pierce County Historical Society and serves as the town’s “Stage Stop Museum.”
If you get a chance, you might want to stop on by. It’s filled with all kinds of items from the community’s past — from spittoons to swimming suits.
Who knows, the walls might still have more say.
Sources: Firm Foundation by Abbi Wonacott, Postmarked Washington: Pierce County, South Pierce County Historical Society, Pat Van Eaton. Photos courtesy of the Van Eaton family and Parnell family.