Listen closely as the beautiful peals from the Maltby First Congregational Church tower bell reminds us of an earlier time when the bell was housed in the Grace Schoolhouse. In its day, Grace was a burgeoning lumber mill community lying basically between the Snohomish County line and the intersection of today's Highways 9 and 522.
The story began in October 1883 when Thomas Sanders wandered up Bear Creek (now Little Bear Creek) and beheld a plot of land with “fine timber stands.” He claimed this 120-acre homestead site north of where Grace would arise. He made frequent trips through the forest to Woodin’s store for provisions and apparently for other reasons since he ended up marrying Mary Woodin – daughter of proprietors Ira and Susan Woodin – for whom Woodinville would be named.
The big event in Grace history occurred in 1887 when the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern railroad company began construction of tracks from Seattle’s Smith Cove to Eastern Washington and Canada – with an important intersection at Squak Slough (Woodinville) that is still evident today. A branch northward toward Snohomish and the Canadian border followed Bear Creek, and Grace became one of the whistle stops. (There is speculation that an excursion train from Seattle to Snohomish, sponsored by Grace Hospital in Seattle, was the source of the name Grace).
In 1891, Sanders and his friend Charles Verd established a logging camp located 1½ miles north of the settlement of Woodinville –and the venerable history of Grace and its varied lumber operations began. Pioneers attracted by employment came to the area and a sense of community began to develop. The 1900 Federal Census revealed that, of the 132 inhabitants in the Bear Creek precinct, fully 45 lived in Grace. The source of employment was short- lived when the “Panic of 1907” resulted in mill closings. The Grace post office and mercantile buildings were shuttered by 1911.
By 1913, the era of “stump farms” began as hardy citizens grubbed out stumps to create their farms. Locals joked about rotating their crops of stumps. The landscape quickly changed as farming, chickens, livestock and other agricultural pursuits became the source of sustenance for locals. By then, Grace had only a school, slaughterhouse and unused train station.
The Maltby church bell still tolls for Grace, along with a voice determined to preserve its memory. Terry Jarvis, co-founder of Vintage Auto Parts (now Three Rivers Marine) and self-appointed mayor of Grace for life, and several Woodinville colleagues, have expended great effort to communicate the Grace motto of “Having Fun is Serious Business.” The frequent signs, together with an outhouse toll gate and periodic publication of the humorous Grace Gazette, are tongue-in-cheek testimony to the pioneer spirit of the Grace founders.