Kirkland, Washington is a small town with a big history. At the heart of Kirkland lies Heritage park at 111 Waverly Way. The park overlooks Lake Washington and holds a deep history for the community of Kirkland. It is most recognizable for Heritage Hall, standing at its center. This large white building cannot be missed when passing through Kirkland via Market street. The building has been standing since 1922. This goes to show how far Kirkland has gone to preserve this special location. The park serves its purpose in bringing the community together for festivals and gatherings year after year.
Backstory and Context
Union-A High School was built during 1932, on the land that is now Heritage park, the school was built during the end of the Great Depression. It is hard to believe that such a large financial and resource heavy investment was made during difficult economic times. It was a large, strong building that would stand for over 40 years. This school brought the youth of Kirkland together, they were known as the “Kangs” because of their kangaroo mascot, their school provided them with a great education.
Once Kirkland outgrew the Union-A building, it was time for an addition. So, a new property was purchased. The voters approved a $200,000 bond to build and equip a new school. The new school started to be built, and was renamed Lake Washington High School in 1945, it was the same year that WWII finally ended. At this time, all teachers who had husbands returning from overseas received a three week paid leave. The original Union-A High School building, now called Terrace Hall, was still in use; it was now a building of Lake Washington High School. Six years after the districts of Juanita, Kirkland, and Redmond were combined into the Lake Washington School District. The new building became the main campus of Lake Washington High School, opening its doors in 1950.
Lake Washington High School was growing. Due to the baby boom post WWII there was a massive influx of births in the King county district, making it necessary for the increase in campus size. The older building, Terrace Hall, now had little to no use, but still stood as a symbol of Kirkland's growth. In 1973 Terrace Hall, which was being used primarily for junior high students, caught on fire. The doors of the new Lake Washington Junior High did not open until 1976 in a new location at 430 18th Ave, leaving a three year gap of no junior high building. The fire-damaged building (Terrace Hall) stood on the property vacant until 1987, when it was torn down by the City of Kirkland. This could be because the Cold War was happening at this time, which kept the city preoccupied with fear that Russia may use nuclear force. If war broke out, the building could have been a potentially useful and necessary resource. When the building was torn down they left an archway from the north west end of the building as a reminder of what once stood there. The plot of land lost its purpose and for the next few years it was not used much.
Although the school district re-purchased the land, the City of Kirkland decided to buy it back in order to develop it into a park. First, in 1999 a historic white building which was originally used as a church from 1922 to 1968, was moved from 1st street to Market street. It was moved to be a focal point of modern Kirkland and maintain the roots of the waterfront town. Then, in 2005, the original Union-A archway was moved from the back of the park to the entrance. The park was named Heritage Park and the white building was named, Heritage Hall.
Heritage Park is historic land and just like the original school, it serves to bring the community together and nurture the growth of the community. The 1922 building and the 1932 archway are permanent symbols of what modern Kirkland started as. Kirkland values its history and that is made clear by these historic monuments being relocated to the center of the town and the park’s name, “Heritage.”
McDonald, Cathy. Heritage Park, The Seattle Times. May 22nd 2008. Accessed June 2nd 2020. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/heritage-park/.
Historical Buildings, Explore Kirkland. Accessed June 2nd 2020. http://www.explorekirkland.com/About/Historical_Buildings.htm.
McCauley, Matthew. Union 'A' High School before it became Lake Washington | A Look to Kirkland's Past, Kirkland Reporter. November 23rd 2011. Accessed June 2nd 2020. https://www.kirklandreporter.com/news/union-a-high-school-before-it-became-lake-washington-a-look-to-kirklands-past/.
Junior High School - Kirkland, WA, Waymark. December 16th 2007. Accessed June 2nd 2020. https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2T16_Junior_High_School_Kirkland_WA.
LWHS History, Lake Washington High School. Accessed June 2nd 2020. https://lwhs.lwsd.org/about-us/lwhs-history.
Caldbick, John . 1960 census: First census to show full effects of post-World War II baby boom in Washington state; urban areas grow in population, rural areas contract., History Link.org. March 18th 2010. Accessed June 2nd 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/9341.