Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island  

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Mercer Island Historical Society

Founded 1954

Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island

A Washington State Non-profit Charitable organization with 501(c)(3) status.

Memories of Merrimount

July 7, 2017
by Jane Meyer Brahm
from a memoir by Elliot Marple

Mercer Way in the 1920's

South of East Seattle, in the center of the Island's western shoreline, is a neighborhood called Merrimount. Elliot Marple, son of one of the original owners, told of how his father, Lucius Marple, and his boyhood friend, Ed Manning, went into partnership together to buy a tract of Mercer Island land from a Scandinavian–American bank, which had failed. He wrote about Merrimount’s earliest days in his memoirs. Marple wrote:

  “As I recall, Merrimount contained 22 and a fraction acres. When it was bought, in 1919 or 1920, it was heavily wooded with second growth after having been logged off in the late 1800s. The loggers had left standing a few very large old Douglas fir trees. They must have known from the dead tops, broken limbs, and the appearance of the bark that they contained conk (rot) or pitch and therefore were worthless in those days for lumber.

  “The rest of the woods consisted largely of alder. Dad said it was necessary to remove most of the alder before a surveyor's line could even be run to determine where the boundaries were, and to set the corners for each lot. Over 200 cords of alder were cut as cordwood, loaded onto scows and taken to Seattle for sale as fuel.

  "The platting of lots was oriented to the water. Waterfront was the only thing salable then, because of the dependence on water transportation. The waterfront lots were 50 feet wide, and long and deep; seems to me they ran back 300 or 400 feet. Merrimount Drive was platted to connect with the boulevard [now West Mercer Way], which went   more...




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Mercer Island is primarily a single-family residential community. A commercial business district and multi-family dwellings are concentrated at the northern end of the island, south of I-90. However, north of Interstate 90 is also a single-family residential community as well as being the site of city-owned Luther Burbank Park.