The early 1900’s was a time of mechanical innovation for the country and the Puget Sound region. By 1905 hydroelectric power started serving the Seattle area. By 1914, Ford Motor Company had opened a factory in South Lake Union to assemble the Model T. By 1922, the Naval Air Station Seattle at Sandpoint kicked off construction. On the Eastside, David Burr was building the tele-com network.
David Burr arrived in Kirkland a few years before the Great War seeking opportunity. He purchased numerous plots of land within the intersections of Waverly Way, 10th Ave West, and 5th St W. By 1914 he had established the Kirkland Laundry and ventured into a new technology with the purchase of a telephone company that had all of 20 customers.
The Kirkland home at 508 8th Ave West was built for David and Gladys Burr in 1920. All four of the Burr children were born before the Great Depression and were raised in the home. After David Burr passed in 1952, Gladys lived comfortably maintaining her garden and original home until 1985. Third generation Burrs purchased the home and adapted to the earlier standards of design. They modernized electrical and mechanical systems and rebuilt the carriage house and roofs. They also enjoyed countless spectacular sunsets and created memorable events on this special site.
Well before the Burrs arrived in Kirkland, the surrounding areas were settled by homesteaders in the 1870’s. By the 1880’s the homesteads had formed the communities of Houghton and Juanita. The land between these two communities remained mostly undeveloped until 1886 when Peter Kirk arrived to found “The Pittsburgh of the West”.
Peter Kirk was an established steel mill owner in England that came to America looking for prosperity. In 1886 Kirk wanted to capitalize on the iron, coal, and limestone discoveries in the Puget Sound region. By 1888 Peter Kirk and Leigh S.J. Hunt, plus some others, formed the Moss Bay Iron and Steel Works. However, the lack of cooperation from the railroads, the lack of deposits near Snoqualmie Pass, and the Panic of 1893 caused the venture to be abandoned; Kirkland lay idle for several years.
Even though the steel industry didn’t materialize for Kirkland, the woolen mill business did. Textile goods were sold to gold prospectors during the Alaska Gold Rush and then to the military during World War I. Shipbuilding also became an important industry for the area. In these early years, ferry service made Kirkland accessible to Seattle and many people who lived in Kirkland also worked in Seattle. Kirkland was dubbed “The Hub of the Eastside” and was incorporated in 1905.
In 1917, the Lake Washington ship canal opened and many of the ships built and repaired in Kirkland were ferry boats. During World War II Kirkland’s Lake Washington Shipyards built naval warships.
In 1940, the Lake Washington floating bridge opened just south of Bellevue and a decade later ferry service had halted on the lake. By the time a second floating bridge was built in the 1960’s, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Redmond were primarily middle-class communities for commuters.
Today Kirkland is a community of over 80,000 people with a downtown on the waterfront. On warm sunny days, the city is reminiscent of a California beach town. At the center of town, there is a 19,500-square foot public library, a 397-seat performing arts theater, an outdoor/heated public pool, a recreation, arts, and resource center for teens, and baseball fields that are home to Washington State’s oldest Little League – Kirkland American. The award-winning Lake Washington School District serves the residents of Kirkland.
The historic Peter Kirk Building houses the Kirkland Arts Center which brings in teaching artists to inspire the community in the visual arts. A renovated Park Lane has restored walkability and charm to the downtown and connects well with Kirkland Urban.
Kirkland is a hotbed for today’s high-tech companies; Google, IBM, Microsoft, GoDaddy, and Tableau all have branch offices located in town. It’s no wonder Money Magazine ranked Kirkland one of the top places to live in the United States.
Kirkland’s historic Market neighborhood is a friendly, walkable community nestled along the shoreline of Lake Washington and adjacent to downtown Kirkland. Residents enjoy proximity to the lake and magnificent views. Waverly Way offers both pedestrian and bicycle routes along the tree-lined street. West of Market provides a prestigious address and is close to the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. The neighborhood’s five parks are within walking distance and offer a variety of multi-use recreation opportunities: open rolling grasses of Heritage Park, waterfront beaches at Kiwanis and Waverly Beach Park, the hidden gem of a park at Lake Ave West, or the wetland preserve at Juanita Bay Park.
The area surrounding the intersection of Market St and 7th Ave is a reminder of Kirkland’s past with its historic buildings from the 1890’s as well as street lights and other improvements that reflect its historic character. This area was to be the original downtown of Kirkland and is still a focal point for the city’s history. Well landscaped buffers and architectural treatments provide a smooth transition between Market St and the homes in the neighborhood.