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Memories of Kenmore

We moved to Kenmore in 1952.  We moved in to a duplex at 80th NE and Bothell Way. I remember Walking with my brother from there to the café at Lemm’s corner.  We passed restaurants starting with the Eagle Inn, Blakes, Bob’s chicken Place, The Gourmet and the Wishbone.  The Dance hall was tucking in in back of the “Blakes”.  One time Conrad and I stopped at the Gourmet to have a piece of pie.  We were ragamuffins and were definitely under dressed.  The took us in and gave us a lemon pie tart and

Didn’t charge us.  We thought that was really great.  I guess they knew a Chinese family had moved in.

That summer we served Chinese style food along with regular American fare.  This was the first and last time we all worked together as a family.  We worked at least 10 hours a day.  I was 12 and I worked in the kitchen with Dad.  I did the peeling of prawns and potatoes etc. and washing dishes.  Conrad and Wayne waited on tables and keep the front clean.  After school started then dad ran it himself and no more Chinese food.  I worked before school and after school.  Conrad and Wayne had school functions.

That first Christmas Kenmore had a Christmas party and the community center across the street.  This was the old days when everyone was invited.  I remember that Christmas because of a grocery employee

Sang Christmas in Killarney.  He did the accent and danced also.  This was a significant memory for me.

Also, that summer Conrad and I took some time off to go camping up past Camp Mason near Snoqualmie pass.  We hitchhiked there and camped at the first lake on the trail which was Blue lake.  We only had food that night and breakfast the next morning.  We planned on catching our food.  We spent half of the day finding lake kula kula.  We fished for about 3 hours and didn’t catch anything.  We finally attracted a large trout with a flatfish lure and then I let it go to long and it got stuck on the bottom and I lost it.  We hurried to put on a spinner and look for some worms.  When we got back in the fish was not interested and left.  Conrad ate a left over raw potato that Wayne left there a week or so before.  We decided to leave about 6.  It was getting dark and we had no food.  We got down to the road and started hitchhiking and reached to Hilltop café in Bellevue.  Someone gave us some free soup and a dime to call home.  That is the last memory I had till I woke up in the morning.  I was asleep and was carried to the car and to bed.  That was quite a trip in retrospect.

That summer we had no baseball basketball or any type of sport.  Kenmore and Bothell had no facilities compared to North bend or Kirkland. 

I started the 6th grade and Conrad started the ninth grade and Wayne started the 12th grade.  In January they both quit and went to Kirkland schools.  Wayne went back for the music program and Conrad went for the athletic program.  We couldn’t play team sports in Bothell.


Inglewood Country Club

Inglewood Golf and Country Club

we caddies didn’t look like much
in our hung out to dry jeans and t-shirts,

but we were hired by
some of Seattle’s finest citizens—

the two dollar fee and dollar tip, made three.

at first we were mules,
shouldering a heavy load,

or silent statues eyeing
the unruly flight of the ball,

but, soon enough
they taught us
most of what Gentlemen need to know–

how to throw clubs,

fudge the ball with our foot,

and pee

John E Irby

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Sink, Sank, Sunk ?

One summer on Lake Washington at Kenmore, which is on the north end of the lake.
I was with my friend from high school, Gary Jang. I enjoyed those lazy summer days water skiing the lake or up to the Sammamish Slough when the lake was choppy from the wind. Gary was with me when I decided to scare him a little. Gary is of half Chinese and half Swedish descent. His dad had a small restaurant in Kenmore who was nicknamed the pancake king. Gary was kind of an all American kid who was frequently in trouble with his teachers because of the terrible puns made in class, but he was well-liked by everyone.

On the lake there were four pilings that had either been part of a dock or a boathouse that I had gone through slowly with my boat, a fourteen-foot red and white Johnson sea craft with a 35 horsepower Evinrude Lark motor that would propel it to about 34 miles per hour, which seems more like 60 miles per hour in a car. I was piloting the boat at full speed towards the pilings, which at that speed didnít appear to have enough room for the boat to pass safely through. Gary began screaming to stop me from my reckless endeavor. Iím sure he envisioned us smashed up on these old pilings, then swimming injured for our lives. We passed smoothly through what Gary thought was his doom. I enjoyed my laugh at his expense.

I used to launch my boat the Kenmore slough site. I remember pulling in with my trailer more than once, backing the boat and trailer into the water then freeing the boat and pulling it up to the shore. After the launch, I would drive the car and trailer up to the parking area. Upon returning to the boat, I found it was sinking because I had forgotten to put in the drain plug. I then took off hell-bent for the car and trailer to pull the boat out of the water before it sank completely hoping that no one was around to see my stupidity.

A few years later while I was on a construction job in Alaska. My brother took the boat out with his family and ran It out of gas. He had an extra metal gas container which he proceeded to pour into the boat tank. Accidentally, he touched the battery causing an arc which ignited the gasoline. He then dropped the can, sending gas the length of the boat which burnt to the waterline within twenty minutes. Luckily no one was injured, and I had to start looking for another boat when I returned from Alaska.

Kenmore’s Busiest Intersection

Kenmore’s busiest intersection was less hectic in the good old days! The main intersection in downtown Kenmore, at 68th Ave. NE & Bothell Way, has seen many changes over the years. One of the earliest known enterprises was a dance hall, built by S.E. Hitsman, that opened in 1917. Only two years after opening, however, it burned to the ground in the spring of 1919.

It was located on the northwest corner of the intersection. In the fall of 1919, Sarah and James Mitchell built a grocery store on the site of the burnt-out dance hall. The Mitchells lived in a tent while clearing away the charred debris of the hall and building their business. This grocery and general merchandise store was the first of its kind in Kenmore, serving a growing need for commodities. After several successful years, the store was leased to a man named Himbercourt, and then to another named Elder for three years.

After Elder’s lease expired, the Mitchells’ son, Delancy, and his wife Georgie took over the store and made it a family enterprise again. They renovated the building in 1934, and the Mitchell store continued to serve the community until 1946 when it was taken over by Antell’s Grocery.

Charles Antell died in 1950. In 1957 the Union Oil Company purchased the corner site for a Union 76 service station. That facility was replaced by Jiffy Lube in the 1990s. The Mobil Gasoline station, located adjacent to Mitchell’s store, was owned by Edward and Eliza Mahler, parents of Sarah Mitchell. The Mahler’s operated the gas station from 1920 until 1946 when Mr. Mahler died. The railroad tracks visible in the foreground were laid in 1885 as the Lakeshore & Eastern Railway.

It reached Bothell on Thanksgiving Day in 1887. Nine years later in 1896, it became Seattle & International Railway, based on plans to extend the line to Canada. Northern Pacific Conglomerate took over the railroad in 1908 and trains ran under that banner until 1970 at which time Northern Pacific merged with Great Northern to form Burlington Northern Railway. The track was abandoned in 1971 and in 1978, the Burke-Gilman trail opened on the old railroad right-of-way. Photo courtesy of Kenmore Heritage Society. Historic information courtesy of Priscilla Droge.



The Red Brick Road Through Kenmore

The Red Brick Road Through Kenmore

Roads were primitive or nonexistent for early settlers in the Kenmore area. They relied heavily on the waterways and later the railroad to get from place to place. From the late 1800s, however, there always was a wagon road of sorts between Seattle and Bothell, passing through Kenmore. The route wound its way from Eastlake on Lake Union to the north end of Lake Washington as a dirt road, a rut-filled and often impassable route even by horse and wagon.

Until the early 1900s, Seattle roads stopped at the edge of the city, near Green Lake. There were few motorcars, and driving anywhere was an adventure. Horseshoe nails and sharp rocks took their toll on automobile tires.

When Bothell pioneer and local grocer Gerhard Ericksen became a state legislator, he determined to do something about the road situation. He sponsored the passage of “good road” laws in 1903. By 1909 the wagon trail from Seattle had been upgraded and surfaced as far as Lake Forest Park with macadam, a durable mixture of asphalt and gravel. First christened Ericksen Road, it later became known as Bothell Boulevard. The rest of the old wagon road to Bothell was graded in 1911-1912.

King County began to experiment in 1912 with vitrified bricks from Renton brickyards, seeking a permanent type of paving for the route from Lake Forest Park to Bothell. Trainloads of red bricks were brought from Renton to a Kenmore-area siding near Swamp Creek. Road builders obtained railroad ties from Lake City and cut them in half to help create a narrow-gauge railroad from Lake Forest Park to the Wayne Curve just west of Bothell. This railway was built to distribute bricks along the four miles of road from Lake Forest Park to Bothell.

The new road was built largely by immigrant Italian and Greek laborers. All bricks were laid by hand, the workers kneeling to place the bricks, one at a time, and seal them with mortar. Kenmore’s first hotel, the American, served as a bunkhouse for the crews. The hotel was probably on the north side of the railroad tracks (generally east of the present-day Kenmore Pre-Mix site.).

The opening of the brick road from Lake Forest Park to Bothell, passing through Kenmore, was completed in 1913-1914. On April 6, 1913, an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer welcomed “the broad, permanent road finished in hard surfacing.”

The road took the same route traveled by early-day wagons that followed trails around Indian Village (Lake Forest Park) to Squak Slough (Sammamish Slough) and east to Bothell. The road is known to modern-day travelers as Lake City Way inside the Seattle city limits to NE 145th Street, and Bothell Way for the remaining distance.

The brick road proved an economic boon to the area. Automobiles replaced horse-and-buggy travel and supplanted the rail lines in popularity. Families took Sunday drives way out to Bothell, and cafes and roadhouses sprang up in Kenmore.

The Rise and Fall of Train Transportation Through Kenmore 1885 to 1971

The rise and fall of train transportation through Kenmore 1885 to 1971

By Jo Ann Evans, October 4, 2018

Imagine living in Seattle over a hundred years ago before World War I and planning an exciting Sunday excursion to Kenmore and environs by train.

Train travel for business and pleasure in the Seattle vicinity began in the 1880s. In 1885, the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad began laying track from downtown Seattle following a route around the west side of Lake Washington and through Kenmore along what today is the Burke-Gilman Trail. It reached Bothell on Thanksgiving Day of 1885. Pushing on through Woodinville and Redmond, by 1888 the railway reached Issaquah, becoming a major regional line serving Puget Sound logging areas. Later it continued east to Preston, Snoqualmie, and North Bend.

Since woodland trails connecting Seattle and Kenmore were primitive, Seattle dwellers would take Sunday afternoon train rides to Kenmore to see the wilderness. Soon they could even go as far as Snoqualmie, and Sunday excursion trains filled with sightseers ran from Seattle through Kenmore to Snoqualmie Falls.

Despite its relatively short length, this railroad system benefited residents of King County, and Kenmore in particular, even though the community remained a whistle-stop rather than a scheduled passenger stop. A rail siding led to the McMaster shingle mill on the Kenmore waterfront. The rail station, decked out in the usual depot color scheme of that era Indian red with bottle green trim stood across from the mill managerís house, between the railroad tracks and the siding that led to the mill (in the vicinity of the modern-day Kidd Valley restaurant on Bothell Way). Passenger service to Kenmore ceased in 1941, but trains continued to pass through Kenmore.

The SL&E line was acquired by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1892 and was in service regularly until 1963. As late as 1965, the company was using steam-powered locomotives on the route between Woodinville and Ballard, with a crew consisting of an engineer, fireman, conductor, and three brakemen.

In the early 1960s citizens sought to have the Northern Pacific Railroad abandoned its route along the west side of Lake Washington in order to permit the creation of biking and walking trail on the old roadbed. The company was reluctant to sell its right-of-way, feeling it might need the route in the event of a railroad emergency. Then a railway wreck occurred on the eastern lakeshore, thus legitimizing the company's concern.

Jo Ann Evans - A Montanan by birth and a Washingtonian since 1954, Jo Ann Evans is a long-time activist in the Puget Sound Theater Organ Society and plays the 1924 Wurlitzer organ restored by her husband, Russ. She also serves on the boards of Arts of Kenmore and the Kenmore Heritage Society and received a McMaster Heritage Award in 2007 for community service.

Immediately following the wreck, the Northern Pacific routed a train through Kenmore in order to bypass the accident At about 2 AM the long line of freight cars came rumbling and clanking along the almost-defunct right-of-way, pulled by a huge diesel locomotive. Following regulations, the crew blew the throaty air horn at every crossing. The crew enjoyed the spectacle of house lights coming on all along the lakeshore route as people rushed outside in nightgowns and pajamas to see what was going on.

Not long after this incident, however, the Northern Pacific gave over its claim to the right-of-way. In 1971 the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, and Burlington railroads merged, creating the Burlington Northern Company. Burlington Northern then abandoned the line along the western lakeshore, allowing the Burke-Gilman Trail to become a reality, using the old rail bed from Lake Union to Kenmore.

Photo caption: Train & Car on Bothell Way
It appears a train and car are racing eastward in this 1930 photo, with Lake Forest Park in the background. At the left above the tracks, it appears log booms are in the lake.

LOOKING BACK Helping make a difference

Jo Ann Evans, March 30, 2018

In 1976, my husband and I were searching for a home roomy enough to hold our restored 1924 theatre pipe organ. We found what we were looking for in Kenmore, just up the hill from the drive-in movie theatre. Can you believe we watched movies—silently with binoculars—from our bedroom window?

Pheasants, quail, raccoons, and possums roamed among the fir trees and blackberries and native shrubs were abundant in the woods behind our home. The Burlington Northern train tracks were still in place, later to become the Burke-Gilman Trail. Ostroms Drugs was still in Kenmore Village, surrounded by a succession of business enterprises in adjacent storefronts — from the Wigwam store to a state liquor store. Then, as now, Kenmore was small enough so that one person could make a difference.

Retirement in the early 1990s gave me time for volunteering, and where better to pitch in than in one’s back yard?

Volunteer opportunities can appear quite unexpectedly. The reader board erected in 1978 by the Kenmore Baptist Church on Bothell Way provides humor, encouragement, and on occasion, important local news. In the early 1990s, the sign encouraged passersby to attend a meeting at Kenmore Junior High to explore the pros and cons of Kenmore incorporating as a city. Ah! This was important — a perfect opportunity to get involved.

Kenmore voters had rejected incorporation proposals six times between 1950 and 1970 but local opposition receded when passage of the state’s Growth Management Act in 1990 raised the prospect of unincorporated Kenmore being annexed by one of the cities around it. This did sit well.


Having a small-business retail sales background, including advertising and graphic design, gave me experience and skills useful for what became the final incorporation effort. I joined the team, worked hard, and cheered with the many volunteers when in September, 1997, incorporation was approved overwhelming by voters. Kenmore became a city the following year, some 97 years after a settlement named for a village in Scotland and a city in Ontario was founded around a new shingle mill next to the lake.

A surge of civic activism led to formation of two important civic organizations. The Arts of Kenmore organized the Kenmore Art Show, now in its 20th year, and the Kenmore Heritage Society launched a series of historic-preservation projects. Serving as photo editor for Kenmore by the Lake: A Community History inspired my growing interest in local history.

I invite you to come back next month to learn more about how we got to where we are today, and perhaps also enjoy my companion photo feature, “Then & Now” – a side-by-side view of places in early Kenmore and the same places today.

About this blog: In the coming months I will share with you some great stories spun from Kenmore by the Lake: A Community history about how Kenmore evolved from a rough, remote settlement on Lake Washington to a semi-rural bedroom community and finally to a thriving, exciting young city with a special hometown feel.

COMING OF AGE My dad, the Hotcake King

Gary Jang, March 26, 2018

Henry Jang, my dad, traveled by boat from China to the United States in 1925. We don’t know the circumstances, but we do know he was sponsored by a Chinese man in South Dakota.

Dad’s name was Zhang, a common name in China. Entering the states, men named Zhang, most unable to speak English, became Jang, Jung, and Chung because U.S. immigration officers had to come up with a name for their forms.

Dad was 15 and traveling alone. He couldn’t read or write Chinese, and he couldn’t read, write or speak English. He came from Kaiping, a region south of Canton. The people there were poor. At the time most Chinese in America were from Kaiping.

I know almost nothing about dad’s life in China, and I did not know him well in America either.  Mostly he worked hard and had little time for family. I am still trying to learn more about him. Once I hired a man fluent in Chinese to talk to people in China who were second cousins and they may not have known him.  But the man was not a professional interpreter and didn’t speak the same dialect as those he interviewed. So I did not learn anything.

Dad was what was known as a “paper son.” Between 1882 and 1943, immigration was limited by the Chinese Exclusion Act. But you could come if you had family here. A Chinese man in South Dakota sponsored him. But he had to answer certain questions, and his answers had to match those of his “father” in South Dakota. Questions like, who was the blind man on the corner in your home village? The immigration officials did not speak Chinese, and the new arrivals spoke no English, so translators were hired. Supposedly the translator worked for the government but often he made sure that the immigrant’s answers matched those of the sponsor.

My dad wound up, not in South Dakota, but in Fargo, North Dakota at a Greek restaurant. He was given room and board and worked before and after school. He learned to read and speak English in three years. We don’t know why he went to Fargo. There was a Chinese café in Fargo, but we know why he didn’t go there.  There are a lot of mysteries here.

My dad married a Swedish woman, Cora Sandry.  She and her sister were two of the best-looking girls in town. My Swedish grandfather hated my dad’s guts because he was Chinese. My parents had three boys. I was the youngest. My mother left us in 1944. We moved to Stockton, California with dad and I enrolled in first grade. Dad ran a café in each town we lived in.

My mom returned for a time, but could not get along with dad. So she kidnapped us in 1947 and took us to Seattle, where her sister Alvina had become a madam. My aunt also ran a nightclub for a bootlegger named Russian John. My mom was a cocktail waitress.

Mom put us up with cousins in North Bend, and came to visit once a month. Later we moved in with another family. I remember only that they were fat and poor and ate a lot of potatoes. Then we lived with two retired people. Here we had to have manners. We had to dress up for dinner. Until that point I had never eaten as a family unless we went out to dinner.

Then dad found us and we lived with him.  He ran a couple of restaurants in North Bend, then in 1950 opened a restaurant in Kirkland. I sold newspapers. My brothers worked as pin-setters in a bowling alley.

In June, 1952 we came to Kenmore where my father became known as the Hotcake King.  But at first, to build the business, we also served Chinese food that first summer.  There was no Chinese food around then. We worked 12 hours a day. Dad was in the kitchen, my brothers waited on customers out front, and I washed dishes and cut up vegetables and peeled shrimp.

When school started, dad switched to American food only, which was much easier to prepare. We served hotcakes, bacon, or ham for breakfast, and turkey or beef or pork dishes the rest of the day. The hotcakes were 30 cents, all you could eat – bacon or ham extra. The daily lunch special cost one dollar. The customers were mostly working men. After school I washed dishes and swept the floor.

I learned a few things about my dad listening to him talk to the customers. When the restaurant was slow, he would play cards with “Old Man Mac,” a regular. Guys would come in and join the game. There was a tavern next door. Dad had quite the personality. But we didn’t talk much.

My dad died of cancer in November, 1962. That fall I ran the restaurant until he died. I got up at six in the morning to open and worked until ten at night. Then we closed the restaurant.

About this blog:  I was a youngster growing up in Kenmore during the post-World War II period. I will be writing periodically about what life was like then in this sleepy little highway town at the north end of Lake Washington.

PUBLIC SAFETY Thank you, Deputy Zornes

David Maehren, March 26, 2018

Let’s look at some recent law-enforcement history through the 37-year career of Deputy Gary Zornes of the King County Sheriff’s Office. Gary’s career began in October, 1980. After graduating from the police academy, he was assigned to the North Precinct in Kenmore, serving unincorporated areas of King County north of I-90 between Puget Sound and the crest of the Cascade Mountains. He patrolled the Kenmore area for most of his career.

If you attended Kenmore Junior High (now Kenmore Middle School) or Inglemoor High School over the past 22 years, you met Gary. As School Resource Officer, he helped keep the schools safe. Gary chaperoned your prom and homecoming dances. He was there for your sporting events. He also assisted with the “Live Drunk Driver Accident” drill each year before graduation to emphasize the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

One of Gary’s most memorable arrests came early in his career. He was returning from a training session with two other deputies and a sergeant (me). Gary and the next most-junior deputy, Donn Potteiger, were riding in the locked-in back of the patrol car – seating usually reserved for prisoners (there are no interior door handles). Radio dispatched an alert for a stolen vehicle. Shortly thereafter what to our wondering eyes should appear but the stolen vehicle and two felonious occupants. Our driver, Deputy Mark Edmonds, gave chase. After a three-block pursuit, the stolen car crashed into a dirt bank. The suspects ran from the wrecked car. Edmonds and I jumped out, pursuing the suspects on foot, forgetting that Gary and Donn were left behind, locked in the back seat. Being a bit skinnier then, Gary squirmed through a narrow opening in the divider between front and rear seats. You now know how Gary’s slight frame earned him his nickname “Bones.” Gary freed Donn before joining the foot pursuit. Both suspects were apprehended – another successful day for law enforcement and another lesson learned, as Gary has reminded me on several occasions.

Police work changed a lot during Gary’s career, and he was often a leader in pioneering the new ways. He was among the first officers in the United States to use laptop computers in the patrol car beginning in the mid-1980s. Gary became a Technical Flight Officer for the Guardian One helicopter unit in 1994, assisting with navigation, communications, use of FLIR (a thermographic camera that senses infrared radiation), and searchlight operations. Gary volunteered to become a member of the initial School Resource Officer program in 1995, one of the first such programs in the nation.  Gary was also a Beta tester for the last three electronic records systems for the Sheriff’s Office.

When the city of Kenmore incorporated in 1998, Gary, by then a Master Police Officer, became one of the city’s first officers under a police-services agreement between Kenmore and the King County Sheriff’s Office. He also helped field-test the first “mobile data units” in 2003, querying the police data systems directly from the patrol car.

Over his career Gary has helped to train more than 100 new deputies, quite an accomplishment.  He has received many commendations, including Precinct 2 Deputy of the Year in 1997, King County Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year in 1998, and Inglemoor’s Educator of the Year in 2010. Gary was also first runner-up for the Washington School Safety Organization’s SRO of the year in 2017.

Gary’s last shift was on Christmas 2017.  A grateful community wishes him and his family the best in a well-deserved retirement.

Next month we will take a look at a bit of the Fire Department history.

I welcome feedback and personal stories from readers. Feel free to contact me at

About this blog: Public Safety is essential for a community’s well-being.  Kenmore is fortunate to have excellent police, fire and emergency medical services. Our public-safety systems have evolved over time. In the early days there were no local police officers, no firefighters, and no emergency medical services. This blog will document the history of public safety in our area.  A few interesting stories will illuminate the way.

PRESERVATION Vision of the Lodge at St. Edward

Kevin Daniels, March 22, 2018

First, we want you to know that Daniels Real Estate will host a design meeting in the spring at the Saint Edward Seminary building. Community members will be introduced to the project team working on the historic redevelopment of the seminary as the Lodge at St. Edward and will have an opportunity to ask about specific details in a Q&A session. Watch for an announcement in the coming weeks.

We have posted a few design concepts on our website and on Facebook. I want to share some of the central design themes that are emerging.

You may be aware that the exterior Romanesque Revival architecture of the building is very unique in our state. In exploring interior design themes, we have decided that we want to highlight elements of the exterior architecture in the public interior areas.  As you can see in the concept renderings above we are integrating the use of archways, contemplating brick on some of the interior walls, and mimicking the Romanesque design when appropriate.

The interiors will be preserved and restored to federal standards for the public to visit and enjoy, with an adaptive reuse focus that is consistent with other national and state park standards and with the original design of the building.

As you know, we intend to repurpose the badly deteriorated interior of the seminary building into a park lodge with 80-100 guest rooms, a conference center, meeting rooms, a wellness spa, and a restaurant and café.

We are still in the concept stage so please don’t take the renderings below too literally. They are simply a tool to convey design themes.

I look forward to sharing more as our design evolves and to introducing members of the project.

The lodging rooms will be designed with natural finishes that are subtle and inspired by the natural setting of the surrounding St. Edward State Park.

See you in the spring and, again, thank you for your continued support.

* * *

About the blog: Preservation isn’t just about saving old buildings, it’s about uniting the past with the future and creating community connections – so I want to thank the Kenmore Heritage Society for its advocacy in the preservation of Saint Edward Seminary.  It took a few years but the restoration project is now underway and I look forward to sharing updates.