Kirkland Now & Then | Kirkland's First Park


Kirkland’s first park was located at the site of today's Heritage Park, off Waverly Way. The land had originally been a part of Andrew Nelson’s Homestead, a claim he staked in 1877. When Peter Kirk came in 1887 and began his work building a town that would support his envisioned steel manufacturing complex, Kirk’s Kirkland Land & Improvement Company purchased Nelson’s land as a part of the approximately 5000 acres it acquired for its envisioned Kirkland townsite. After the 1893 depression--called the Panic of ’93—the dream of Kirkland as a western Pittsburgh was dashed. Though Kirk’s steel corporation, the Great Western Iron and Steel Company, became insolvent, its sister land company remained a going concern and was reorganized in 1904 by Kirk and others as the Kirkland Development Company. In 1910 the real estate development firm Burke and Farrar purchased the Kirkland Development Company’s Kirkland land holdings. Peter Kirk owned 40% of the Kirkland Development company and once the deal with Burke and Farrar was executed, he reinvested his proceeds into Burke and Farrar, thus becoming a substantial stockholder in that firm.


The land off Waverly was used by Kirklanders as an 'unofficial' park and ball field from the 1890s. In 1919, voters approved purchase of the land for use as a park on the northern portion and a high school on the southern part. The southern part of the property became the Union 'A' High School at Kirkland (later part of the KJH complex, which burned in1973), that opened for the 1922-23 school year and the northern portion was used as a park until 1931 when it was transferred to the school district (then called the Union 'A', not yet Lake Washington School District) and the old 'Waverly Hall' junior high was constructed in 1932. Though moved from its original position, the City of Kirkland saved the Waverly Hall entry arch and it still stands today at Heritage Park.

The 1913 hand-color tinted view faces east and came from the photo album of Olivia (French) Davis, of the Houghton pioneer French family. She was a 1914 Kirkland High School graduate. The Central School is in the center of the image and it stood on the property today occupied by Kirkland City Hall.

The c 1906 view came from a glass negative, it faces west and was taken by Mattie (Schuster) Marsh, a former commercial photographer, who came to Kirkland in 1905 with her husband Ludwig “Lute” Marsh and their sons Louis “2E” and Phil, all three of whom were closely associated with the earliest days of the Boeing Airplane Company, as the Boeing Company was then known. The exact occasion was not recorded, but the girls in the image are clearly having a great time at Kirkland’s first park.