Washington Stove Works

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  • This is part of a nice article from the Everett Herald on the history of Washington Stove Works...

    When Ralph Mackey sold Washington Stove Works in 1981 to the Goldbelt Corporation, he became the last of four generations in his family to own and run the firm. Ralph's great-grandfather, William Mackey, Sr., had founded the company in South Haven, Michigan, in 1875. But the stove works' connection to Washington began in 1903, when Everett's civic leaders, wishing to build a diverse industrial economy, lured the company to the Northwest. The company's long-term success here is testimony to the founding family's fortitude and their ability to keep the company a vital part of Everett's manufacturing scene for over three-quarters of a century.

    William Mackey, the company founder, was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1839, and immigrated alone to Quebec, Canada, when he was 12 years old. He later moved to Brantford, Ontario, where he apprenticed as an iron molder and met and married Susan Jenkenson. The couple moved to Detroit in 1872, where William became foreman of the Michigan Stove Company, then under construction. Three years later, he moved his growing family to South Haven and founded "William Mackey and Sons Foundry."

    The four "sons" in the company name, William, Jr., Frederick, Albert and Ernest, took active roles in the family business as they grew old enough to handle foundry work. For over 25 years, William and his sons molded molten metal into a complete line of stoves and ranges on the shores of Lake Michigan. They might have stayed there, if William, Sr., who by then was over 60, and his second son, Fred, had not ventured to the Northwest seeking a new plant location. Soon, business interests in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Everett, Washington, heard of the Mackeys' plans and the two cities began offering incentives to woo the company to their locales.

    Everett won the competition, when Wyatt and Bethel Rucker, representing the interests of the local Chamber of Commerce, offered the Mackeys free land for their factory, with the proviso that they employ 20 People for at least 3 years. It turned out to be a win-win-win situation for the Mackeys, the Ruckers and the city of Everett, with the company surviving far longer than the minimum and employing as many as 220 workers at its peak.

    When William moved his extended family to Everett, he brought along partner and company cofounder Irving M. Smith. They incorporated the stove works with William as president, Irving as secretary and Fred as manager. They built the plant on the Rucker's donated land at the corner of 34th and Smith Avenue and combined their years of expertise to make it prosper.

    The company manufactured stoves, ranges, heaters and furnaces under the "Olympic" brand name, and produced custom iron castings as well. The finished products were sold and shipped to wholesalers, dealers and stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Alaska. In the early days, the company employed 3 traveling salesmen and 45 skilled mechanics.

    Many family members were employed at the plant, while others pursued related careers locally.
    Below are some shots from the Everett Museum collection.
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