Debra Sinick

Peter Kirk, the founder of Kirkland, Lives On

In Kirkland WA, Real estate on September 9, 2009 at 4:48 am

I’m  always fascinated to learn more about Kirkland history, probably because of my background as a history major in college and as a former history teacher. Many know the story of Kirkland’s founding by Peter Kirk, who came to what is now present day Kirkland in the 1880′s to build a steel mill.  He planned to build this steel mill on Rose Hill to produce steel that would then be transported out of the area by railroad.  Unfortunately, the panic of 1893 hit and all the plans were off.

The sledgehammer had an article which talked about the history of Kirkland that never happened.

Interestingly, there are many things left because of Peter Kirk’s presence in the area.  The most obviously is the name of the city, Kirkland.  But there are more subtle, lasting things that have shaped the community of Kirkland.

Peter Kirk’s legacy remains in Kirkland:

He and his partner, Leigh S.J. Hunt, the owner of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, formed The Land and Improvement Company, platted parts of what is now downtown Kirkland, and  built a number of homes for the factory foremen.    Most of these homes, built about 1889, are East and West Of Market ( Street) in Kirkland.

Kirkland Historic Home

Kirkland Historic Home

Kirkland Historic Home Plaque

Kirkland Historic Home Plaque

These historic homes have plaques by their front doors which show the date the homes were built.

Burke and Farrars bought the land from the company Hunt and Kirk founded in 1910 and platted more big chunks of Kirkland.  Their names live on in the legal description of many properties in Kirkland.  You might think you live in The Kirkland Highlands or in a neighborhood on Rose Hill, but the legal description for your property often begins with “Burke & Farrars Kirkland addition”.

Burke & Farrars

Burke & Farrars

Other parts of Kirkland are legally known as “Kirkland Steel Works.”  Kirkland real estate still has a direct association to its past, beginning with the legal descriptions of the properties.

Seventh Ave, east of Market, is wider than any of the other avenues.  It was designed to be wider, so the carriages hauling the steel down from the mill would have room to travel down the street.

Kirkland's 7th Avenue

Kirkland's 7th Avenue

The Peter Kirk building on Market St. in downtown Kirkland was to be the headquarters for the steel mill.

Peter Kirk Building

Peter Kirk Building

The Senior Center has been renamed the Peter Kirk Community Center.

Peter Kirk Community Center

Peter Kirk Community Center

And, of course, there’s Peter Kirk Park right in downtown with its ball fields and skate board park.

Peter Kirk Park ball field

Peter Kirk Park ball field

Skate boarding at Peter Kirk Park

Skate boarding at Peter Kirk Park

I wonder if Peter Kirk would be shocked if he knew all these places were named after him.  It’ quite a legacy. Peter Kirk never built a steel mill here, but he had a profound affect on Kirkland.

By the way, The Sledgehammer article mentioned the foundation for the steel foundry as still being visible on Rose Hill.  Does anyone know where it is and if it’s still visible?

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  1. [...] I wrote a post a couple of years ago about some of Kirkland’s history and the two men who had … [...]

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