Elizabeth Carmichael — People from Yakima’s past
On 108 W. Pine St. in Union Gap and 2 Chicago Ave. in Yakima, there are two beautiful houses.
Many may walk past them or drive by them without a second thought. However, to those in the know, those houses are special. Both are connected to Elizabeth Loudon Carmichael and are testaments to her wealth and success.
As a young Scot, she emigrated from New Zealand with her husband and three children to a farm in the Cowiche area in 1884. Shortly after, their fourth son was born and her husband died.
The young widow then married Colin Carmichael and moved to California. When he died, she moved back to Yakima, now Union Gap.
She opened up a general store and became the town’s postmistress. But that wasn’t enough for this driven woman. She had an idea that the community needed a creamery. Thus, the Yakima City Creamery blossomed into a business.
The creamery started humbly with simple cream and butter, but in 1905, Carmichael made a proclamation that, “The Yakima City Creamery will make the finest ice cream it is possible to make and will continue to keep it such fine ice cream.” That’s when Carmichael Ice Cream began.
Paul Schafer, a teacher at Eisenhower High School, recalls the ice cream was indeed delicious but that the special marker was its “blue and white checks.”
With business booming, Carmichael moved her business to North Yakima to create a new creamery plant that would be closer to ice and water. The artisan well created for the plant was at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Walnut. Later, the well actually helped fill a natatorium where a car wash near Davis High School now stands.
Her success doesn’t end there.
Carmichael left such a prosperous business to her four sons that, by 1969, the small dairy farm used for the Yakima City Creamery could no longer keep up with the demand of customers. They came not just from Yakima but surrounding areas. The Maid O’Clover Dairy Store was established and ultimately became a chain.
Carmichael’s hard work made her wildly successful, so much that she was able to afford two houses. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“In times when most houses had two or three rooms, she built a house of stone that was two stories and had a basement,” Schafer says. “ It had nine to 10 rooms. Then she sold that house and moved. The second house (2 Chicago Ave.) had 12 to 15 rooms plus a ballroom. Yes, she was very successful.”
— Jasmine Okbinoglu