History of Hunts Point

In the days when Washington was still a territory, Hunts Point was a favorite camping ground of the Sammamish Indians.  Fishing and hunting were exceedingly good.  When Washington became a state and Seattle grew, the Indians were pushed north and east and finally stopped coming to the Point altogether.  During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Leigh S. J. Hunt, who resided at the end of Yarrow Point on property that he acquired in the early 1870's from an old homesteader, bought what is now known as "Hunts Point".  He wanted it so that he could cut down the tall evergreen trees growing on its northern tip, which obstructed his view of Seattle.  Later, he named this peninsula after himself. 

At the turn of the century when Hunt's fortunes waned, this property was taken over by Puget Sound National Bank and sold to a group of Seattle men who used it as a family retreat for Sunday picnics and summer camping.  Gradually they built small vacation homes here and spent the whole summer in the Point, which grew into a very congenial community whose residents commuted to Seattle and their work via the Gazelle, a small ferry which chugged into Cozy Cove each morning at 7:15 to pick them up.  If there was no ferry they rowed.  One early settler, D. K. MacDonald, recalled that his sister-in-law was stricken with appendicitis, and he and his brother had to lay her in a canoe and paddle her over to Seattle through rough waters to get her to the hospital. 

By 1910, electricity and telephones had come to Hunts Point, and docks now accommodated the ferries. The following year Rural Postal Service was initiated.  With these conveniences, the summer people began enlarging their small dwellings, adding furnaces and plumbing.  When schools were available, they finally gave up their city homes and moved to the Point on a permanent basis.  In the early years, around 1909, when residents had to head to Seattle to do their shopping, food spoilage was a problem.  Harry Hurlbut got tired of rancid butter; so, unbeknown to his wife, he had a boat built which he called "The Grubstake."  He provisioned it periodically in Seattle and used it as a floating grocery store serving the Eastside housewives.

When the Government Locks were opened in 1916, the level of the lake dropped 10 to 12 feet, and the marshlands of Cozy Cove and Fairweather Bay were formed.  Hunts Point property owners were obliged to purchase the newly exposed muddy land along their waterfront from the county.  The hot issues throughout the early years centered around water, roads, sewers, dogs, and speed limits.  In the early days, each home had its own pump and a pipe extending 500 feet out into the lake to pump water into the house.  Drinking water was carried from one of the several wells on the Point.  In 1922, a case of typhoid led to an investigation of the purity of the water and to the subsequent installation in two years of a new community-owned water system with a storage tank and gravity flow with chlorination.  In 1949 this system needed extensive repair so the question arose whether "to patch it up" or go on the "expensive" Bellevue water.  The conclusion in the Improvement Club minutes after a hot discussion on this issue: "Jane moves we kiss and make up and adjourn."

The opening of the first Lake Washington Bridge in 1940 spurred phenomenal growth on the Eastside.  The ferries were soon retired -- the "Ariel" in 1944 and the Kirkland ferry soon after.  Hunts Point Circle and part of Barnaby Park Addition were developed in the early 1950s, and Hunts Point's population grew.  Two events influenced the push to incorporate the town.  The Navy, it was rumored, intended to park the Liberty ships in Cozy Cove, and a long-time resident began dividing her property into small lots.  The community's need for self-government became evident, especially with respect to zoning.  In response to signed petitions, Hunts Point was incorporated as a Fourth Class Town on August 26, 1955.  Town officials were elected, with Sterling Stapp serving as the Town's first Mayor. With much deliberation, ordinances were adopted governing land usage and town activities.  Mailbox stands were rebuilt, and in 1960, sewers were installed as part of Metro's plan to clean up the lake.  In 1957, Fairweather Basin was developed, turning marshland into prime residential property. The Evergreen Point Bridge, completed in 1963, put Hunts Point only minutes away from Seattle. In 1976, Fred Sundt developed Hunts Point Lake.

The site of "Hunts Point Park" was acquired from the Bellevue School District (the Bay School had not been replaced after it burned in 1950).  In 1967, the Town tennis courts were dedicated. Underground wiring for electric and telephone facilities was completed in 1969.  In 1977, a bond issue ($45,000) was passed and plans were under way for construction of a Town Hall in the westerly section of the park area. D. K. MacDonald, a long time resident, purchased all the bonds to finance the construction.  The architect was Omer Mithum.  Donations of services, materials, plantings, flagpole, flag, and furniture to complete Town Hall highlighted the ongoing community spirit of Hunts Point residents.  Town Hall was formally dedicated on Cleanup Day, May 21, 1978. 

A clubhouse was built in 1913 at what is now 3655 Hunts Point Road.  This clubhouse became the center of social activity for the active, fun-loving residents.  Tennis courts were built soon after, and the Hunts Point Tennis Club was formed.  Elaborate dinner parties, dances and other entertainment were given over the years to raise the money needed to pay for these improvements.  Every Saturday night, something was happening at the clubhouse.  Tennis and swimming tournaments held sway in the summer.  The summers of 1921 and 1922 saw the biggest project ever carried out by Hunts Pointers -- "Ja Ba Wa Ka Jinx", a name derived from Alice in Wonderland.  It was a huge fair staged to raise money to pay off the clubhouse mortgage, buy furnishings, silver, and dishes, and rebuild the tennis courts.  Every person was on a committee, and when there wasn't a committee, they made one.  There was even a "Baby Carriage" committee composed of all the infants of the Point whose job it was to amuse passersby, thereby collecting money in the tin cups fastened to the side of the carriages.  Guy Bowden explained, "We were out to get money.  We boasted the biggest fakes in the side shows, the biggest gyps in the lotteries and the biggest graft ever obtained by one group of people, and the ones who enjoyed themselves the most were the ones who had been cheated out of the most money.  Oh, it was great fun, from the tennis tournaments held in the morning to the Mardi Gras dance on Clark's lawn late that evening."  Bronze coins called Jinxs were sold three for a dime and had to be spent.  Over $1000 was made each of the two years.  Yet, the most important aspect of the Ja Ba Wa Ka Jinx was the spirit of cooperation just for the love of community.

The Fourth of July was another great community-wide celebration.  In the early days, it started between 4 and 5am when Norman Buel shot his small brass cannon across the water signaling that everyone should get up and get down to the water and start shooting off their fireworks.  At noon, the Tennis Club held the annual Men's and Women's singles and doubles tournaments for which a trophy was awarded.  There was a water sports carnival with swimming, diving, row boat racing, and canoe-tilting competition.  Around 5pm, guests began to arrive for beach picnics; and at dark, the fireworks display donated by the fathers provided a suitable ending to the exciting day -- an all-day, all-out noisy bash!

The Hunts Point ladies made a valuable contribution to the welfare of the Bellevue area when they organized the Eastside Circle of the Seattle Fruit and Flower Mission, which became the first Circle of the Overlake Service League in 1913.  Since then, the Overlake Service League has grown to 15 circles throughout Bellevue with members assisting needy families on the Eastside. 

Perhaps the most significant and long-lasting community function is the traditional Hunts Point Clean-up Day, first organized in 1920 by the Improvement Committee.  Every year since, a Sunday in May has been designated as a work day when all the residents emerge to beautify their roadside property, the park and the entrance to the Point. Work crews begin at 9am weeding, pruning brush and trees, mowing grass on the Town right-of-way, hauling away debris, repairing and repainting mailbox stands, etc. A Good Humor truck travels up and down the road offering beverages to the "Toilers."  Children participate in dinghy races, after which trophies are awarded and refreshments served.  In the evening, adults are invited to a Rest and Relaxation party held at one of the homes on the Point where neighborliness exudes good cheer, and old and new residents meet in much the same spirit of cooperation as in the days of the Ja Ba Wa Ka Jinx.

In 1988, Wetherill Nature Preserve was dedicated jointly by the Towns of Hunts Point and Yarrow Point. The 16-acre preserve was given to the two Towns by Sidonia Wetherill Foley and Marjorie Wetherill Baird, descendants of the Seattle pioneer Jacob Furth.  The first Commissioners to oversee the maintenance of the Preserve were: James Barton, Jan Brekke, Pauly Roberts, Marge Baird and Mareen Kruckeberg.  The preserve is maintained through volunteer efforts and contributions. 

The Town of Hunts Point was designated a Tree City in 1992, one of only five cities in the State of Washington.  In order to become a Tree City, the Town had to enact a tree ordinance, form a Park Commission, budget $2 per capita for reforestation, and pass an Arbor Day Proclamation.  Hunts Point has maintained its Tree City status since the original designation. 

Washington State's Growth Management Act of 1990 required all towns and cities to develop and/or upgrade their comprehensive plans according to a regular schedule.  Hunts Point has continued to complete these reviews and revisions to our Comprehensive Plan in accordance with required elements of the Act (relating to land use, housing, transportation, capital facilities and utilities) so that our current Comprehensive Plan remains a true reflection of the character of the Town and a demonstration of the residents desire to maintain that character.

In addition to maintaining a vision of what the Town residents want their Town to be, the Town Council and Planning Commission are ever vigilant in reviewing current land-use issues in this community and in other neighboring communities so that the Town's Zoning Code and other land-use regulations allow property owners the latitude they desire in developing their property while ensuring that the unique qualities that draw new residents to this special place are retained.  Eagles are nesting in the old growth trees on Hunts Point Road.  Squirrels, birds and raccoon are seen frequently seeking shelter in the wooded areas. Canadian geese are so numerous as to cause problems in yards and on the docks.  Though it has changed dramatically from a simple summer-recreational community, Hunts Point has managed to preserve much of its original charm, its sylvan beauty and community spirit.  The Town's objective is to keep it that way!