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The Official Website of the City of Kent

History of Kent

  

 

In  1860s, the westerners first settled permanently along the banks of the White River and Titusville. Hop production was the major source of income during the 1880s. The demand in the hops from the Puget sound area increased as the production in Europe was affected by aphid invasion. In 1889, Kent was renamed for Kent County, the major hop producing region in England.

 

When the City of Kent incorporated in 1890, the population was 763. Kent was the second city in King County to incorporate.  Kent began as an agricultural area. Hops were the first major crop (first planted in 1878), leading to the rapid growth of Kent in its early years. Almost a million pounds of hops were harvested in 1888. Truck farming began in 1917, and during the 1920s, Kent became known as the "lettuce capital of the world."

 

Annual floods of the Green and White rivers contributed to the agricultural fertility of the Kent valley. During the Great Flood of 1906, the valley turned into a giant lake, as flood waters rose up to two feet in some houses. The White River found a new channel into the Puyallup River, thus alleviating some of the flooding in Kent.

 

In 1963, the Howard Hanson Dam was completed at Eagle Gorge on the upper Green River, taming most of the flooding. This enabled industrial development to take place on the valley floor, leading to Kent's rapid rise as a major distribution center.

 

Beginning of Business 

 

The White River post office was established at David A. Neely's place. The first hotel in the White River Valley area was "The Titusville House" built in 1884 and located at 1st Ave and Meeker St. A drug store and a blacksmith shop also opened, bringing more business to the area. The Kent Water Company began operation in 1888 and pumped water from a spring on the Crow farm on East Hill. 

Historical Landmarks

855 Smith-Bereiter Houseweb 

The Greater Kent Historical Society and Museum 

  • The Greater Kent Historical Society and Museum was formed in 1992 with the intent of promoting the discovery, preservation and dissemination of knowledge about the history of the greater Kent area

  • In 1996, the City of Kent purchased the historic Bereiter house for use as the Kent Historical Museum
  • It was the home of the city of Kent's 3rd mayor Emil Bereiter 1912-1913 
 
    

  

 HistoricDowntownLookingNorthon1stAveWeb 

Historic Downtown 

  • Historic downtown area was first permanently settled by homesteaders in the early 1860s 
  • The City was originally called Titusville. There is still a 'Titusville Station' sign on Gowe Street near First Avenue
  • Kent Downtown Partnership formed over 20 years ago to help revitalize historical downtown Kent  
 
   
MillCreekNeighborhoodWeb(2)- 

Mill Creek Neighborhood 

  • The Mill Creek neighborhood platted in 1890 reflects the history of early Kent
  • 4 past mayor’s lived in the neighborhood: Calhoun 1911, Bereiter 1912-1913, Murkar 1927-1930, and Dunbar 1943-1946
  • The neighborhood displays many architectural style homes from the first decade of the 20th Century: prairie, craftsman, and colonial revival
  • Home of the first rural postal carrier of Kent
  • Past presidents of Kent Historical Society: Jack Becvar 1992-2002 and John Mergens 2003-2007 
 
   
SoosCreekBotanicalGardenBuggyweb 

Soos Creek Botanical Garden and Heritage Center   

 

  • Visit the Heritage Center that celebrates the history of the early pioneers that settled the Soos Creek plateau
  • Soos Creek Botanical Garden is a unique pairing of garden and history
  • Stroll through eleven beautifully designed gardens on twenty-two acres
  • Enjoy quiet contemplation​ of nature in the garden and woodlands  
 
   
Nelly-Soames  Historic Home 

Neely-Soames Homestead  

  • One of the oldest homes in Kent- dates back to 1885
  • Listed on the State Register of Historic Homes in 1977
  • Settler David Neely’s daughter Ruby was born in the house in 1895; after marrying Harry Soames, lived there until her death in 1986
  • Grounds and gardens reflect a farmstead typical of Kent’s early days; maintained by members and friends of the King County Master Gardeners 
  • During annual open house, view historical photos and the bed Ruby Neely was born in, hand-carved by her father
  • Watch wool spinners in period dress  
 
   
  EarthworksParkweb 

Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks Park  

  • Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks is an internationally acclaimed artwork by Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer
  • The Earthworks is a public park, a stormwater detention dam, and a modernist masterpiece
  • Since its installation in 1982, the Earthworks has been lauded for its fusion of art and infrastructure, making it a powerful precedent for engineers, landscape architects and artists
  • In 2008, the Earthworks became the City of Kent's first landmark  
 
   
HydroplaneandRaceboatMuseumweb 

Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum 

  • The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum is the nation's only public museum dedicated solely to powerboat racing
  • The museum features an incredible collection of vintage hydroplanes spanning seven decades, including boats that have won 17 Gold Cups
  • The nation's primary resource for historical and educational information on hydroplane racing
  • Over 100 years of racing history on display including boats, motors, films, photos and uniforms  
 
   
SaarPioneerWeb 

Saar Pioneer Cemetery  

  • The first burial in this pioneer cemetery was Margaret Eunice Olmstead Saar in 1873
  • There was no other established cemetery in this area contrary to popular rumor so her husband, Peter Saar, continued tradition and buried her on their property
  • Mr. Saar sold this property to Mary L. Meeker in 1882 reserving the one-acre cemetery. John Nelson bought the cemetery from Mr. Saar in 1887 and then sold it to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church and their successors
  • It is a historic landmark and closed to burials  
 
   
HillcrestBurialParkWeb 

Hillcrest Burial Park 

  • This pioneer cemetery was founded originally near the center of the Samuel Russell Donation Claim (Canyon Mill Company, Lumber and Building Materials) in 1886
  • In 1890 property was acquired on Knob Hill and many of those interred in the valley cemetery were reinterred here
  • There are many Kent pioneers interred here along with Civil War and Spanish American Veterans.
  • It remains an active cemetery
 
   
MeridianCemeteryWeb 

Meridian Cemetery 

  • The original Meridian Cemetery is believed to be the first cemetery on the East Hill and was used from about 1875 or 1880 until 1891
  • This original cemetery is no longer there
  • The Meridian Cemetery Association was later formed and purchased the current Meridian Cemetery property from a Japanese couple from Seattle
  • According to tombstone inscriptions the first burial took place in September of 1908
  • It remains an active cemetery  
 
   
Suise CreekWeb 

Suise Creek Cemetery  

  • Also known as Soos Creek was established in 1903 at this current location
  • Around 1900 some thought it necessary to have a cemetery that was more readily accessible to the neighborhood so it split; part becoming the Meridian Cemetery Association and the rest Suise Creek Cemetery
  • In 1902, the present property was purchased at $10 an acre and, in 1903, the bodies were transported by wagon to the new cemetery
  • It remains an active cemetery  
 
   
StPatricksCemeteryWeb 

St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery  

  • The earliest burials appear to be that of Morgan O’Brien and his wife, Catherine, who both died in 1880 according to the tombstone inscription
  • Mr. Richard O’Connell, an immigrant from Limerick, Ireland, donated the land for the cemetery. Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was an obvious name chosen for this cemetery, where one can read from the headstones the names of Mullen, Costello, O’Grady; and the places of Tipperary, Donegal, and Galway
  • It remains an active cemetery
 
   
SeattlePetinKentWeb 

Seattle Pet Cemetery   

 

  • Originally named the Seattle-Tacoma Pet Cemetery when it was established in 1948 has been owned by three families; Marlatt, Clark, and currently the Morris family
  • This cemetery was recently known as the Pet Haven Cemetery
  • One famous burial is Little Tike, a vegetarian lion who passed in the 1950’s
  • It is still an active cemetery for pets  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
  

 

 

 

History Resources

Find addtional city, county, regional, and state history resources. READ MORE

Experience Historical Kent Celebrates City’s History

Third Saturday in August 2015.  Visitors and residents are invited to celebrate Kent’s past. Showcasing local history, the day-long celebration features special exhibits and bus and walking tours of the city’s oldest homes, businesses and cemeteries. READ MORE