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On the Other Side of the Locked Gate

Article and Photos by Jane Meyer Brahm

The late May Freeman told of summers at North Star wearing her woolen swimsuit, rowing down the lake to pick blackberries, swimming across the lake and…looking for deer while driving the curves of East Mercer Way.   Some things never change.   


It would be difficult to find a privately owned seven-acre chunk of Mercer Island more unchanged from the old days than the North Star Lodge property.  In the 6000 block of east Mercer Way, past the padlocked gate and the vintage North Star sign is a place where time has stood still.


A narrow drive snakes down the wooded slope past 13 cabins built between 1924 and 1954, each one unique.  At the bottom of the road, the slope levels out to 166 feet of waterfront and a large pavilion. 


In 1926, the International Order of the Good Templars in Seattle, a local temperance organization with deep roots in Swedish heritage bought the property for $5,000.   That year, North Star No. 2 began developing a sommarhem or summer home on Mercer Island.   Members built cabins.  A pavilion for group activities was completed in 1938 and used as a dance hall, mess hall and activity center. 


The park continues under the ownership of the nonprofit North Star Council for Alcohol and Drug Education.  It provides a family-centered alcohol and drug free environment for its 100 members.  North Star runs summer camps and provides scholarships for youths dedicated to an alcohol- and drug-free life. 


For nearly 100 years members have enjoyed vacations and daytime outings, meetings and picnics at North Star.  Surrounded by trees with no houses in sight, it looks just as it did in 1938. And…we’re still watching for deer while driving the curves of East Mercer Way.  

Private Property sign near North Star entrance

North Star Lodge as seen from the water

Exterior of North Star Lodge

US flag; flag of Sweden; flag of Norway

Waterfront of the North Star Lodge

Interior of the main “pavilion” of North Star Lodge, built in 1938.

The “pavilion” was used as a dance hall, activity center, mess hall and theater.

Photos of former members of North Star Lodge

One of the 13 cabins on the property

Another Cabin

White cabin with flower box

Original rock chimney with cabin
Other cabins
Other cabins

"The Augustsons" sign

Original sign at North Star Lodge

Park entrance sign built in the late 1920's by Alex Hagg with his three sons on the sign.
(L to R: Alvin, Bert and Arnie Hagg)