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“New Life of the Land”—2017 Christmas Musical Drama at Alderwood Community Church in Lynnwood

Posted by glennled on December 13, 2017

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ACC cast, “New Life of the Land,” Dec. 2017

 

On 1-3 December 2017, Alderwood Community Church (ACC) presented its 29th Christmas program in five public performances, drawing a total audience of more than 3,000. This year marked the 100th year since the Puget Mill Company developed the planned community called Alderwood Manor in 1917. As residents settled there, they wanted a church. In 1920, Alderwood Manor Community Church was born.

To celebrate this 100th anniversary year, ACC commissioned Matthew Wilson to write the play, “New Life of the Land.” Mr. Wilson attended ACC while growing up. It was presented as a musical drama, not a typical musical. None of the main characters sings play-87or dances. In one comedic relief scene, a barbershop quartet is featured as they rehearse “Deck the Halls.” Instead, the orchestra and choir, under the direction of Linda Collins, perform music to open and close the drama; intersperse different scenes with songs; and provide soft, instrumental music (underscore) while the actors continue with the play. The stage sets employ mixed media: some outdoor scenes are presented by videos on three huge screens above the stage floor. The entire drama takes play-95place during slightly more than one hour on Christmas Eve in 1917. A young couple who intend to marry obtains a 5-acre plot of land through the dramatic, providential trade of their train ticket with a stranger at the Alderwood Manor trolley station. They plan to raise chickens to support themselves and their (eventual) children.

The theme of the play is hope. Each of the four main characters have different hopes for themselves and each other. The hopes of Margaret (played by Hannah Blomberg) and Jebediah (Charley Delaney) come true. Eliza (Deborah Turcotte) is forced to abandon her hope for her granddaughter, Margaret. Finally, John (Mike Tate) undergoes a renewal: in the beginning, he has lost hope and is melancholy, having been crippled by polio. He wants to marry Margaret but has no job. In the end, he enthusiastically adopts her hope of staying in Alderwood Manor, establishing a chicken farm, and raising a family there. When they do acquire the land, he proposes marriage, and she accepts. They will enroll in the “New Life of the Land” program created by Puget Mill Company to help settlers learn to raise chickens and certain vegetable crops for sale and family food.

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L to R: Rob Rankin (lead), Corban Epp, (2nd), Glenn Ledbetter (3rd), ACC Orchestra trumpeters

I have now played trumpet in four Christmas programs at ACC. Please see my blog posts of 23 April 2015, 15 December 2015, and 10 December 2016.

More ACC, Alderwood Manor, and Lynnwood History and Future Plans

The musical drama aroused my curiosity. I’ve lived in Edmonds for 14 years and don’t know much about Lynnwood history. What happened after 1917? How did we get to where we are now? Here’s some of what I’ve learned as a result of this Christmas program.

Before 1910, only a few hearty pioneers lived in the area. It took about two days to travel some 13 miles to Seattle. Then, in 1910, the electric trolley line which connected Seattle to

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Linda Collins, ACC Orchestra and Choir Conductor

the Esperance stop near Hall’s Lake was extended to Everett. That cut the travel time from the Forest Park stop (later re-named the Alderwood Manor stop) to about one hour.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the Puget Mill Company owned thousands of acres of forest land north of Seattle. Once the land was logged, taxes remained the same as if it still was timbered. To reduce its tax burden, the company decided to sell off some 7,000 acres then covered with blackened stumps and snags. In 1917, it offered land for sale in 5- and 10-acre parcels, known as “stump farms,” within a planned community that it named “Alderwood Manor.” [Incidentally, 1917 is the year of my mother’s birth, may she rest in peace; it’s also the year that the Ballard Locks officially opened for boat traffic and America entered World War I.] play-127

The Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway ran through Alderwood Manor. Just east of the electric trolley tracks, Puget Mill Company built a 30-acre Demonstration Farm to promote land sales. Here, land purchasers could learn to raise chickens, farm fish, and grow fruits and vegetables both for sale and family food. “New Life of the Land” was the name of this project. On the Demonstration Farm was a superintendent’s cottage, hotel, community hall. water tower, chicken houses, and an incubator house. The preferred chicken species was the single comb white leghorn. By 1921, the American Poultry Association had recognized Alderwood Manor as one of the nation’s greatest poultry centers.

Meanwhile, the early residents had a strong desire for a Christian church in their community. They began by meeting for Sunday School in private homes in 1919. On 28 November 1920, Alderwood Manor Community Church was born. They built a wood-frame building on the present site of ACC.

Through the years, things changed. Highway 99, to the west, was completed in 1927. The play-31Great Depression hit Alderwood Manor hard, the price of eggs fell, and many residents left the business. Land parcels were subdivided and sold off. The Demonstration Farm was closed. In 1939, the crucial Interurban Railed ceased operations.

In the late 1940’s, after World War II, a community named Lynnwood (named after Lynn, a real estate agent’s wife) began to emerge around the intersection of Highway 99 and 196th Street SW. In 1939, the Interurban railway was converted into a power line corridor. In the 1990s, the right-of-way was opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Today, the Interurban Trail is a 16-mile, hard-surfaced, non-motorized, rail trail.

The City of Lynnwood is now planning another major transformation. It is converting to high-density, high-rise, mixed-use (commercial and residential) zoning in its City Center. Among the regulatory changes is this: the maximum allowable building height in the City Center Core is up to 350 feet. Assuming that one story equals 10 feet, that’s a building height of 35 stories! The City’s long-range, 20-year vision is to become the “Bellevue of the North.” The current population of Lynnwood is about 38,000. play-118

Much of Alderwood Manor and Lynnwood history is preserved in Heritage Park which opened in 2004 at 19921 Poplar Way. Even some of the original buildings and a railway car, Interurban Car 55, are located there. For more information about this area’s history and its future plans, please see:

 

play-1202020 will be ACC’s 100th anniversary. I wonder what musical they will choose for their 32nd Christmas program. Will I still be playing trumpet and blogging in 2020, at age 80? As my dear, late mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, was fond of saying, “Time waits for no man.”

Photos courtesy of John Crozier, http://www.crozierphotography.com. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

 

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