Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gig Harbor, A Century Ago

Millville, at left across the waterfront,amed after the west side’s Gig Harbor Mill, Sam Jerisich, Joseph Dorotich and John and Josephine Novak platted the community of Millville June 28, 1888.  Novak family son-in-law Andrew Gilich, pioneer fisherman, invested his money in real estate.  He built the large wooden buildings around 1900.  This facility, known as the Silver Glide, had an excellent floors for roller skating as well as dancing. Roller skating was a popular pastime as the new century unfolded and skating rinks were appearing around Puget Sound.

Dances were regularly held at the Silver Glide, with Reuben Berkheimer’s six-piece orchestra playing.  (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.

At the head of the bay, in the original town of Gig Harbor, three figures walk along Front Street (now North Harborview). Dr. Alfred M Burnham with his wife Rachel platted the town two months before Millville on April 19, 1888.  Burnham was quite a multi-talented man. He 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 before bringing his wife Rachel to Gig Harbor. 

Burnham bought land from the three original fishermen, Sam Jerisich, John Farrague and Peter Goldsmith and filed the plat for Gig Harbor, 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.  By 1910, 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 had disappeared by the 1930s.

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.  The road where the three boys walk leads around the corner to today’s Harbor History Museum.  

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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