By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Lynnwood, Wash., – Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and society throughout March every year. Within the city of Lynnwood, the influence of women had a great impact on its development and the ability to remember its rich history.
Lynn O’Beirn, the muse behind the naming of the city of Lynnwood, was an active member in local women’s organizations; including the Seattle League of Women Voters where she served as president in 1937, the Seattle Woman’s Century Club and the Seattle Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) where she worked as a director.
While O’Beirn never lived in Lynnwood herself, her husband, a real estate developer, platted the original site of Lynnwood in 1937, a one square mile area on the west side of Highway 99, west of Edmonds, and east of what was once Alderwood Manor.
The O’Beirn’s property was platted into 18 parcels using her name. The first parcel was sold in 1938 to establish a lumber yard, the owner using the pre-existing plat’s title, naming it Lynnwood Lumber Co. A year later another lot was purchased, where the Lynnwood Cabinet Shop was built. The Lynnwood Feeders Supply followed suit, and then soon after- Lynnwood Plumbing.
Merchants of the Alderwood-Edmonds and Seattle-Everett Crossroads chose Lynnwood as the official name of “this fast-growing business district at the meeting of the Central Commercial Club Monday night,” reported the Daily Herald on January 30, 1946. The City of Lynnwood then incorporated in 1959, deciding to use the familiar name adopted by local businesses.
Recognized as one of the strongest advocates in remembering and proclaiming Lynnwood’s heritage, Marie Little served as the city’s first official historian, inspired by her husband being native to Alderwood Manor, which has since become part of Lynnwood.
“Marie Little is a woman with a story to tell. Several stories, in fact,” wrote Aimme Macdonald in the Enterprise in 2001- a weekly newspaper that once existed in Snohomish County. “And her stories are your stories as well.”
Born in the city of Everett in 1932, Little’s work as a historian of Alderwood Manor and Lynnwood began when she married Warren R. Little, whose family and friends were some of the pioneers of Lynnwood. Their influence on the city soon influenced her interest in the area’s history.
In 1991, she co-founded the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, along with approximately 30 current and former residents. The city of Lynnwood, taking notice in her efforts, appointed her to its Historical Commission in 1998, where she served for a decade.
As a past president of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association and former chair of the Lynnwood Historical Commission, Little made it her purpose to preserve the histories of the community. In 2001, she told the Herald that in doing so, it contributes to a sense of place, identity, and civic pride.
Lynnwood recognized Little’s achievements in the preservation of community history in December of 2009, proclaiming her as the official city historian and presenting her with a Key to the City.
Following a year-long battle with cancer, Little passed away on February 15, 2010, at the age of 77. The main drag through Heritage Park is named after Little, officially known as “Marie Little Drive.