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Originally published Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:02 AM

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Echo Lake's landmark tavern

The distinctive wedge shape of Melby's Echo Lake Tavern survives as Woody's Tavern. The Aurora Avenue landmark near Echo Lake has been serving patrons since 1933.

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IF A ROAD TRIP to Everett takes you north along Aurora Avenue, keep an eye out for this cherished landmark a few blocks south of the Snohomish County line. The two-story flatiron Woody's Tavern will seem to be pointing its narrowest end at you.

In the summer of 1905, construction on the Seattle-Everett Interurban approached what artful promoters called the Echo Lake Garden Tracks. There, five-acre parcels were plugged as "suitable for chicken, duck and goose ranches," yours for just $500 — $50 down and $10 a month. Herman Butzke opened the Echo Lake Bathing Beach instead. Butzke had been admired as a singing bartender at Seattle's famed "Billy the Mug" saloon. He was also a picture framer and, before opening his resort, a plumber at the nearby Firlands Sanatorium. His first customers at the lake were nurses who paid a nickel to use his shelters for changing.

A new route for Aurora was graded here in the mid-1920s. Echo Lake resident Theodore Millan built the two-story roadhouse in 1928 on a triangular lot squeezed between the new Aurora and the old Echo Lake Place North, which leads to the canoes, tents and new beds of the short-lived Scotty's Paradise. With the uncorking of Prohibition in late 1933, Millan rented the building to Carl and Jane Melby for their Echo Lake Tavern.

Vicki Stiles, the helpful executive director of the nearby Shoreline Historical Museum, had heard rumors that florist Carl Melby had more than a passing interest in booze during Prohibition. The sleuthing Stiles discovered that Melby had been arrested at least three times transporting mostly illegal Canadian liquor. In 1942, when he was 56, the tavern owner was felled by a heart attack while fishing off Sinclair Island.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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