Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gig Harbor, A Century Ago

Three figures walk along Front Street (now North Harborview) at the head of the bay. 

The town of Gig Harbor was formed, thanks to Alfred and Rachel Burnham.   Alfred was a physician, who had served in the Civil War, owned a newspaper in Minnesota, cut and sold ties for the railroad, and worked cattle in Wyoming before arriving here in 1884. Burnham bought land from the three original fishermen, Sam Jerisich, John Farrague and Peter Goldsmith and filed the plat for Gig Harbor on April 19, 1884 knowing this was a great place to live.  He opened his store, with the long dock, and published his own newspaper promoting elixirs and good health.  Later the building was known as Bay View Hall.  

The white trimmed building next door was WP Kendall’s store, later housing IA Rust’s Tinker Shop.  These buildings disappeared by the 1930s. The road where the three boys walk was known then as Front Street and now as North Harborview.  It leads around the corner to today’s Harbor History Museum. 

The logs piled on the waterfront probably date back to the Prentice Shingle Mill, whose heyday was the 1890s.  Equipment from the mill was sold to CO Austin when he opened his mill in 1909, now the site of the Harbor History Museum.

Across the waterfront to the left is the Silver Glide Dance Hall.  Sam Jerisich, Joseph Dorotich, and John and Josephine Novak had platted the west side community of Millville June 28, 1888, just two months after the Burnhams platted Gig Harbor. Novak family son-in-law Andrew Gilich, a pioneer salmon fisherman, invested his money in real estate.  He built the Silver Glide around 1900. This facility had excellent floors for dancing as well as roller skating. Roller skating was a popular pastime as the new century unfolded and skating rinks were appearing around Puget Sound. 

Dances at the Silver Glide usually featured Reuben Berkheimer’s six-piece orchestra.  (He owned the local hardware store.) Most of the talk of the town concerned the rowdiness that would come about with the lifting of Prohibition in 1920 due to drinking and carousing all night.  Young ladies were warned that they shouldn’t leave and then reappear during the evening, as it would signal a “bad reputation.” 

By 1925, the county banned dances there, and the fun moved out to Horseshoe Lake on Key Peninsula.  After their Golden Wedding Anniversary party in early 1932, the Gilich family dismantled the hall, salvaging some of the boards to build their netshed.  Located just out of this photo at the base of Clay Hill, it is still a working netshed owned by Andy Blair and Dick Moller.

Linda McCowen, Historic Photo Editor
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! So much history behind one photograph! Thank you.