This is the second half of my self published book, from 1922 the Town of Vashon truly entered the modern age and the town of Vashon was cemented as the Island’s main town.
I do not have permission to post the over 100 photos that go with these pages on the internet, so I am posting the text and a few maps only. To see the full text with photos you can order my self published book for, $14.99, or pdf, $9.99, at Blurb Books, web address to ordering page, http://www.blurb.com/b/9321644-town-of-vashon-1890-1960
GORSUCH ADDITION 1922-1932
In his book, Lieutenant Maury’s Island and The Quartermaster’s Harbor, Howard W. Lynn wrote of how the changes in transportation affected Burton,
Clearly M. F. Hatch, in his dream of town building had a good plan when he started Burton. At the head of the bay, with a direct connection to the interior farmland of Vashon Island, it did in it’s day provide the shipping point for the Island’s produce to Tacoma. When the farmers came to town to ship their produce they would naturally stop at his general store. The college was in an excellent location too, a short steamer ride from Tacoma. However with the advent of the truck and the ferry it was easier to truck freight to and from Tacoma and Seattle than it was to ship it by steamer. The same item of progress put Burton to sleep that eventually killed off the steamers.39
The progress that killed Burton did the same to the Island’s other small water-side communities. Changes in transportation modes, the winding down of logging, mill and brick-making operations stopped business growth in those communities. Burton would continue to be the second largest town but would never surpass Vashon.
Up to 1922 the town of Vashon ‘s businesses had been mainly located on the east side of what we now call Vashon Hwy SW, beginning on the south with the Presbyterian Church and ending at Bank Road with the Peterson Meat Market. On the west side, beginning on the south was the original Vashon State Bank building, the Gorsuch orchard and the Gorsuch store at Bank Road. The only commercial buildings north of Bank Road were the Vashon State Bank and Garvin funeral home. In 1922, the Vashon Island News-Record announced Magruder Beall and T. Hansen, “Have bought the five acre Gorsuch property in Vashon and expect to have same platted and will sell off the lots for business purposes. The tract contains the Weiss and Thorsen store building and the two story house”40, the plat was known as the Gorsuch Addition. The creation of business property in the Gorsuch Addition, and the Beall-Hansen partnership’s development of many of those properties would have a profound impact on the growth of the town of Vashon, by 1928 all the Gorsuch Addition lots fronting Vashon Hwy, except one, had buildings and businesses occupying them.
The strawberry maggot hit the Island around 1920, and each year it increased as a result many acres were plowed under, the trend continued for several years. The dominance of strawberries as the number one crop and number one contributor to the Vashon
economy took a hit with the maggot infestation. Strawberry farming was still driving the Island’s economy, but by 1922 the poultry business was growing as farmers switched from strawberries to chickens. This change had been going on for several years, by 1923, there were 150,000 laying hens on the Island, laying 36,000 cases of eggs. The value of the Islands poultry industry was valued at $447,000. P.A. Peterson owned a store, post office and an egg and feed business at Cove, in 1922 he sold the store and post office to expanded his egg and feed business. Peterson had developed a feed mash for poultry and had been selling it to poultry-men on the west side of the Island. Peterson realized that the egg and feed business was soon to be one of the most important and lucrative businesses on the Island, he leased the Deppman building and set it up as a feed store carrying hay, grain, straw, along with his own chicken feed mash. C.F. Deppman made a contract to do all the hauling for Peterson, Deppman and Tim Clark then bought Vashon Transfer Company and changed the name to Vashon Auto Freight. The Masonic Hall building had been hit by lightning in the years since the Vashon State Bank had moved out, the top floor was damaged, and in 1922 the Vashon Island News-Recordreported, “the two story brick building which has stood in Vashon for may years, has had her top taken off, so she is but one story high. An addition will be built to the building on both the south and west side and it will be the work-shop and residence of Ed Mace.“41 Casper Middling owned the Martin Block building in 1922 and remodeled it that year. The hotel dining room was enlarged and a soda fountain and lunch counter were put in. A partition wall was removed and in the new larger space a Cash and Carry grocery store was added, a second floor porch was also added.
In 1923, E.C. Thompson stepped in to supply the area with meat, calling his service Daily Needs Meat & Fish, he built a box for his Ford and delivered meat to the surrounding area. Thompson was new to the business, earlier he had been in the real estate business with R.F.W. Martin. C.F. Van Olinda built the first building on a Gorsuch Addition lot fronting Vashon Hwy just south of the old Gorsuch store in 1923. The modern brick and tile building was home to the Vashon Post Office. The new post office was larger and new p.o. boxes were added, there was a large delivery window and a well lit work-room. In the other half of the building a soda fountain and confectionery store called the Dew Drop Inn opened. The same year Garner Kimmel bought into the Peterson store and became partner with Axel Peterson. Later that year they bought the Peterson Meat Market property and moved both the meat market building and the former Vashon Garage building to the east to make way for a future new store building. At this time there was a theater running in the YMCA building managed by the YMCA, local young men who donated their time to show movies each Saturday night. The town of Vashon was hit by it’s first big crime in 1923, when robbers broke into the Vashon State Bank and drilled the lock of the vault door then used a sledge hammer on the inner lock, $6,687 including cash, bonds, jewelry and a collection of old coins were stolen.
In 1924, Howard Rodda built a new building on the south side of the old Gorsuch store and started a meat market. In 1925, E.C. Thompson bought out the Rodda meat market and started the Daily Needs Market.
D.B. Mukai bought sixty acres west of the town in son Masahiro’s name who had been born in the U.S. and as a citizen was allowed to buy property. Mukai harvested 200 tons of strawberries in 1925, with weather allowing two seasons, one in June and one in October, earning over $70,000. Strawberries are very perishable, and in order to sell to a wider market Mukai, with help from the agriculture department, set up a barreling system in a shed in the fields to preserve the berries, which were then trucked to Seattle put in cold storage and frozen. Mukai then set up a permanent barreling plant on his property. In the barreling plant the hulled berries were put on a conveyor belt and carried past four cleaning sprays, then past eight sorters, then delivered to the barrels, into which they packed 150 pounds of sugar to 300 pounds of strawberries. The barrels were then sealed and put in cold storage within 8-12 hours. The plant had a capacity to produce 59 barrels a day. The Mukai operation at this time employed 400 to 500 seasonal workers. Using their barreling and freezing process the Mukai’s were then able to sell to distant wholesale markets at competitive prices. Mukai was able to bypass the Seattle wholesalers to sell his and other Island farmers strawberries worldwide through large distribution companies such as J.A. Smucker Company.42 The Mukai business had a big impact on the town of Vashon as the Vashon Island News-Record reported, “Mr. Mukai is a believer in the theory that money should be spent where it is earned and consequently many here on Vashon Island are profiting by the fine business he has built up.”43
In 1925, a group of Island women set up a drive to raise $1,000 to purchase the unused schoolhouse and property J.T. Blackburn had donated to the school district, the building was re-named the “Community House.” All meetings of importance were held in the Community House in the following years, there were father-son banquets, political meetings, plays and programs, piano recitals, concerts, teachers receptions, Christmas pageants, Orthopedic and Camulos meetings, the annual Lily show and the Island Festivals.
In 1925, Axel Peterson sold out his interest in the store to Garner Kimmel. Peterson kept the feed portion and moved into his brothers feed building in the old Gorsuch barn across the street. Peterson partnered with Charles England who had bought out P.A. Peterson’s feed and egg business. Axel Peterson managed the feed business and Charles England managed the egg business. The same year Harold Cronander and John Metzenberg moved to Vashon from Tacoma and opened a garage called the Met-Cro Garage in the Deppman building, at this point there were two auto repair garages in town, the Met-Cro and the Vashon Garage across the street. Dr. McMurray opened an office north of Vashon State Bank in 1925, and Ray Campbell sold the Dew Drop Inn to W.D. Garvin, who moved his stock of drugs and magazines from his store north of the bank to the Dew Drop Inn.
The Vashon Community Water System was initiated in 1926, the system took water from Beall Creek (east of town), and used a ram pump to pump the water to a 20,000 gallon water tank erected on a sixty foot tower in the center of town. The system was for the town of Vashon, and a half mile to the north and south. Installation of the system drastically lowered fire insurance rates. Emily Hall was the first to take advantage of the new water system when she opened a laundry business north of the Vashon State Bank in 1926. The same year W.J. Magellan bought J.T. Masters ten acres on west side of Vashon Hwy, north of Bank Road. The Vashon Island News-Record described the Masters property, “this is one of the old ranches of the island and is perhaps the best situated farm tract to be had being in the center of Vashon town site. It contains ten acres, all cleared and improved with two-story house, some barns, and a large apple orchard.”44 Much of the Master’s property that faced Vashon Hwy would later be developed into business lots, the present day Thriftway complex is on the southern part of the old Master’s property.
A.T. Bacchus announced the opening of a lumber store in the Vashon Island News-Record in 1926, “I have now opened up a retail lumber yard at Vashon and carry in stock practically everything you can use in these lines.”45 This was the first lumber store in the town of Vashon, in the past settlers would go to the sawmills for lumber and building supplies.
The old telephone building, south of the old Steffenson store, was bought by T.N. Thompson in 1927. Thompson (nicknamed TNT or Dynamite for his initials), moved the telephone office building east to the rear of the property and built a new building. T.A. Steffenson opened an electric shop in the building and a beauty shop opened in other half of the building. 1927 brought many new improvements to the town of Vashon. In January the Vashon Island News-Record reported that C.G. Kimmel planned to build a “fireproof” single story store building on the corner at Bank Road, on the old Peterson Meat Market property. The building was to have thirty six feet of frontage on Vashon Hwy and extend eighty feet to the east. The paper also announced that the Beall-Hansen company planned to build a one-story frame construction building on two of the Gorsuch Addition lots south of the Van Olinda building, with sixty feet of frontage on Vashon Hwy and a depth of fifty feet. In March Tim Clark bought the entire stock of W.D. Garvin’s Dew Drop Inn, Gavin took over the confectionery and soda fountain shop in 1925, and added his drug store and magazine stock. Clark made interior changes to add space and convenience to the store.
The Beall-Hansen building consisted of three store front spaces. When the building opened in April, 1927, W.D. Garvin opened a Real Estate office in one of the storefronts, O. E. Ramquist opened a tailor shop in another and E.C. Thompson moved the Daily Needs Market into the third space, giving him more room than his former store. Thompson installed a new modern ice machine and refrigeration system in the new store. The new Kimmel store opened May, 17, 1927, Elsie Kimmel Ibsen described the new store in an article in the Vashon Loopin 2001,
Land was purchased on the southeast corner of the main intersection and a new solid brick structure was completed in 1927. The store was essentially a two-part operation, with ‘dry goods’-sewing, crochet, and knitting supplies, underwear, dresses and other clothing, gift items, and an enormous supply of handkerchiefs – on the north side and groceries on the south…There were no carts at the front door for customers to use in making their selections. Rather, shopping lists were given to clerks who would gather each item, and make out a sales slip …Shoppers could pay in cash or run accounts and receive statements at the end of each month. They could also trade their farm produce or fresh churned butter for merchandise or credit on their bill… much of our business was done by phone… (lists)were given to box boys who filled the orders, loaded the trucks, and set out to sections of the Island on designated days to deliver them. For a time there were three delivery trucks making up to three trips per day…refrigeration was expensive for small stores, so perishables were not available either, but ordered fresh from producers; Tjomsland delivered fresh milk by horse and wagon…In a way it was easier to shop then, merchandise was fairly basic…If you wanted cereal the choice was easy: oatmeal or corn flakes.46
In December Garner Kimmel built an office building on the south side of his new store just north of his old store building (the old Steffenson store building), dentist Dr. Coutts moved in along with Leonhard Wentzel’s Sanitary Barber shop. Kimmel sold his former store building to P. Monroe Smock in 1927, Smock leased the building to the Fox River Feed and Butter Company.
The building boom continued in 1928, in February it was announced that the
England & Peterson Company had purchase three lots south of the new Beall-Hansen building in the Gorsuch Addition, new buildings would house the offices of England & Peterson, Vashon Auto Freight, and a warehouse for lumber and building materials. The Vashon Island News-Record reported, “This will fill a need long felt on Vashon Island as builders will now be able to get dry lumber at all times, windows, doors, and finishing lumber will be carried as will tile, brick and water pipe.”47 In May the Boy Scouts completed work on a new headquarters on the property next to the Community House (current Ober Park property). Ray Campbell recalled, “they had the early Island Fairs there, they had two sheds with open slat roofs for the livestock exhibits, one is the present Scout Cabin.” 48 Larry Trotter gave a description of the Boy Scout Cabin as it was in the 1950s,
The inside was good for a large scout troop with a wide open main floor, with a large stone, almost walk-in fireplace on the south end. On the north end there were some small spaces for storing stuff and a small kitchen area. It was like a lodge. Boy Scouts would assembled in formation on the main floor facing the fireplace, which usually had nice fire.49
In 1928, a new theater manger, Mr. Burfield, took over theater operations and added a new front for an office, restrooms and a projection booth. Seats for sixty five people in a new balcony were installed, and a heating system was put in. The stage was moved back to allow new and more comfortable seats to be installed, along with a brand new pipe organ. L.C. Beall constructed a garage building on his lots between the YMCA-Theater building and the Middling building (old Martin Block). The building was occupied by the Met-Cro Garage in December 1928. The Met-Cro had outgrown its old garage in the Deppman building in the two years it had been in operation. The new building, constructed of brick with plate glass windows, had a fifty foot frontage on Vashon Hwy and one hundred feet in depth, was modern, with show room, office and rest rooms in the front and a large repair shop in the rear. In December, F.A. Weiss moved his store to a new building on the northeast corner of Bank Road and Vashon Hwy. The building, a two-story structure, with fifty feet of frontage on Vashon Hwy built of brick (still standing on the northeast corner of Bank Road and Vashon HWY). The store, keeping up with the times, was modern like the new Kimmel store, with up to date candy cases, a refrigerated case for meats and perishable goods, new shelving and counters for the dry goods section and hardware departments.
In 1930, growth in business again at Kimmel’s store was reported in the Vashon Island News-Record,
Progress and more progress seems to be the order of the day on Vashon Island. About two years ago, C.G. Kimmel moved from the Fox River Butter Company (Steffenson building), store into his present location. At that time it seemed as though the new store would be large enough for Mr. Kimmel’s business for many years. Now, after this short time the business has so increased that additional floor space is necessary. For several weeks the workmen have been busy repairing and painting the interior of the building on the corner lately vacated by F.A. Weiss, where Mr. Kimmel will open an up-to-date store in which he will handle a general line of hardware, paints, house furnishings and dishes.50
George McCormick who had managed Kimmel’s hardware department took over management of the new Vashon Hardware Store located in the former Gorsuch store building. Vashon Hwy was paved through town in 1930. The Vashon Island News-Recordreported,
When the buildings of Vashon were built little attention was paid to the likelihood of the village being paved. On the west side of the street the majority of the buildings are considerably higher than the pavement, while on the east side in some cases the pavement will be higher than the entrance of the buildings.51
The paving was done by the county with county crews, but a substantial amount of the expense was paid by each property owner in the town area. Two months after the road was paved, funds raised by the Vashon Businessman’s Club bought twelve new street lights for the town. Fred Stevenson opened a Shell Station in 1930, the station was south of the Presbyterian Church and north of the Methodist Church. The brand new building had a drive-under covered service area and canopy covered pumps. Miniature golf was the craze of the time and a course, designed by Elmer Harming, was included on site at the station.
William Markham opened a bakery in the north half of the Deppman building and Mae’s Sweet Shop opened in the Beall-Hansen building in 1931, The Sweet Shop was a “lunch room” and was the exclusive retail outlet for the new Markham Bakery. Irene Garvin opened a Variety store in the old Steffeson store building, which her father, W.D. Garvin, owned at the time. The Vashon Island News-Record reported that Irene’s Variety Store. “will have a complete line of articles usually found in such stores, ranging from a paper of needles, to silk underwear; from a kettle cleaner, to a set of dishes.”52
In 1932, Fred Stevenson sold his Shell station to Frank Fuller, who added a garage building to the station with, Bud Smith as manager. Reifscheider Shoes moved into Middling building (old Martin Block).
In this era the town of Vashon developed well beyond other Island communities. Portage was no longer a transit point for off Island travel, it remained a community center with a store and garage, but Portage’s geographical situation did not lend itself to expansion into a town. Dockton had a thriving fishing and farming community but still had a very challenging road and remained the most isolated community, never developing past being a community center with store and post office. Burton was no longer a steamboat transportation hub, the brick industry and college were gone. In Burton there was a business district with stores, hotel, pharmacy, and a meat market, but Burton could not match the development in the town of Vashon. Center had businesses, flat land to build on, and was at a crossroads in the most central area on the Island, but like Burton never developed further. Strawberry and tree-fruit farm crops fueled the town of Vashon’s economy from the beginning, later in the 1920s, chicken farming grew to be the largest industry on the Island. By 1930, the town had two “feed and seed” stores, a cannery and a packing plant, as agriculture and the chicken industry continued to fuel the Island economy.
Business property development in the town of Vashon by Charles Deppman, C.F. Van Olinda, T.N. Thompson, Garner Kimmel, and the Beall-Hansen Company was instrumental in growing the town in the 1920s, these property owners built buildings that were leased to other businesses. The Deppman building over the years was home to the Peterson Feed Business, Vashon Auto Freight, Met-Cro Garage, Markham Bakery, Wiley Pool Hall, and has been a Tavern continuously since 1938. The Van Olinda building housed the Post Office in one half and the town’s Drug Store in the other half. The T.N. Thompson building housed Steffenson Electric and a Beauty Shop. Garner Kimmel at one time owned, the old Steffenson store building and all the property from it to Bank Road. Kimmel’s office building housed the dentist Dr. Coutts and a barber shop. The Beall-Hansen Company built the Beall-Hansen building, where they leased out three store fronts. Between these five property owners, there were eleven businesses operating on their properties. The town of Vashon was the dominant town now, these five property owners were a major factor.
FIRE and GROWTH 1933-1945
With the rise of automobiles and auto ferries came the demise of the Mosquito Fleet and a lessening of importance of the Island’s many water-side communities. Communication and interaction between communities increased and the so called Mason Dixon Line blurred as O.S. Van Olinda wrote, “the automobile was the most powerful influence and the telephone played an important role”53, before this time people had identified with the community they lived in. In the new “modern age” with electricity, telephones and automobiles, people began to interact more easily with those outside their community and began to identify as an Islander, a term that has come to include residents Island-wide, reflecting the fact that all residents are defined, and identify with the water that surrounds and separates them from the mainland, feeling they are all on the Island together. The town of Vashon had been the main commercial district on the Island since the early 1900s it would face a major set back in 1933.
On April 17, 1933, a fire rocked the town of Vashon. The fire started in the rear of the Martin Block where the Vashon Transportation Company had a garage for their buses. The fire was discovered at about 3:30 am. The Middling family was living upstairs in the Martin Block, Mrs. Middling discovered the fire first, the Leslie family lived on the ground floor, all occupants fled the building in their night clothes. The town’s fire truck was was rushed to the scene, by then the Met-Cro Garage, to the south of the Martin Block was burning and the roof collapsed. Efforts were then concentrated on the theater building to the south of the Met-Cro Garage, while water was being poured on the theater building the upper portion of of the England & Peterson building across the street caught on fire. The fire cut power lines to the town’s water system and water could not be put on the fire. The large stock of lumber, hay and feed inside the England & Peterson building produced a hot fire, and in a few minutes the Beall-Hansen building to the north burst into flames. The cement wall on the south side of the Deppman building, to the north of the fire’s origin, stopped the fire from spreading north on the east side of the street. On the west side of the street the fire stopped at the Van Olinda building. The Vashon Island News-Recordreported,
Like a proverbial ill wind the fire of April 17th has put at least twenty men to work and more will be at work before the end of the week. The sound of cement mixers can be heard in both directions as concrete is being poured for the foundations of both the England & Peterson and Met-Cro garage…The new Beall-Hansen building, which will be the same size as the one before will be divided into two store rooms manner in which Vashon is recovering from a fire that would spell ruin to many communities is remarkable.54
Excavating for the new England & Peterson plant was started Tuesday, with the remains of the former building still burning. The new plant which will be finished with stucco, on a four foot concrete foundation, will consist of two buildings; one building 50’x120”’ feet will house the offices and feed and egg departments; the other building, the size of which will be 30’x125”’ feet, the lumber and fuel will be stored. England & Peterson now own the frontage from the former Sweet Shop (Beall-Hansen building)to Mace’s Garage (old Vashon State Bank building) 125 feet. The two buildings will be on either end of the lots with a driveway, loading platforms, etc. in between.55
The Met-Cro garage rebuilt in a new location north of the Weiss store (location of the west end of the present day Thriftway complex). On the front of the 100×120 foot lot a service station was built and to the east behind the service station a large garage building was built, the Met-Cro reopened in late May just six weeks after the fire. The Beall-Hansen building was rebuilt with two store fronts instead of three. The Daily Needs Market moved back in the building, it’s new space nearly twice the size. Modern equipment was installed, an ice machine capable of producing 1,500 pounds per day, and two coolers for meat, vegetables and ice storage. A complete line of groceries, vegetables and meats were carried. The Sweet Shop moved back to their old space, The grand reopening was held in June. A. Rieschnider moved his shop across the street. Ed Mace’s Vashon Garage was also damaged in the fire. Mace replaced broken windows, repairs were made on areas damaged by the fire and a new roof was put on. The Martin Block, and the former Met-Cro building were not rebuilt. Shortly after the fire the Vashon Island News-Record reported,
The Island Bakery (old Steffenson store building), is being moved, not to another building, but five feet north. An inside stairway to the living quarters above has been built, the old (outdoor), stairway will be torn away and the building moved over abutting the Kimmel office building. This will leave T.N. Thompson, the owner, a nice building lot on the south of the bakery.56
It is remarkable that human beings can take the jolts as philosophically as have the business people of Vashon…the spirit of starting anew is typical of the spirit that predominates the entire village. That the town of Vashon recovered from the fire that would have ruined many communities so quickly was remarkable, and showed the grit and determination of the business community.57
In 1934, Fred Stevenson built a new service station at the old Met-Cro site north of the YMCA building.
In 1936, a warehouse and office for the Washington Co-Operative Egg and Poultry Association was built between Dr. McMurray office-residence and the Vashon Laundry. Charles England sold his interest in the England & Peterson Company to his partner Axel Peterson. Mr. and Mrs. Sexson sold the Vashon Pharmacy to E.C. Paul in 1936. The Vashon Island News-Record reported, “a new neon light which was immediately installed by Mr. Paul proves an addition not only to the store but the entire business block.”58The Alibi Restaurant opened in 1936, George McCormick recalled, how it started,
I was working in Vashon and didn’t like to carry my lunch, so I went to a local tea room, as that’s all there was. One day I thought my serving called for a little something else, when I asked for it, I was given a small muffin and charged an extra 10 cents. In those days 10 cents was 10 cents. When I objected to the extra cost, but got no results, I thought to myself, I’ll start my own restaurant. I knew Elmer (Harmeling)was a good cook because I had watched him operate on camping trips. I knew too that he didn’t like his job so he was ready for a change. He and I got together and took over the old Steffenson store building and made it into a restaurant.59
Marjorie Stanley wrote,
The Alibi was practically the first restaurant in Vashon. Heretofore hungry businessmen had eaten at Tim’s Place…Why the name Alibi? If you heard as many tales of “the one that got away” as we hear when these guys get together, you’d know why we named it the Alibi, McCormick said.60
The Vashon Island News-Recordreported on the opening of the Alibi,
A place of business devoted to recreation has been opened in Vashon by Elmer Harmeling, with George McCormick as silent partner. The Garvin building (Garvin owned the old Steffenson store building at the time) has been remodeled and furnished with a lunch counter, pool tables and card tables. Morning coffee will be served at 10 o’clock, sandwiches, cake and pie at noon, and soft drinks throughout the day and evening. The recreation center is for the use of both men and women and the highest standards of wholesome entertainment will be maintained. Elmer Harmeling has a hearty, friendly personality and is noted for his hospitality and good fellowship, which will undoubtedly make this place one of he most congenial in Vashon.61
Much like the Gorsuch store earlier, the Alibi became a place for the community to meet, they could play cards and pool, eat and socialize with neighbors. Much of the restaurant’s popularity came from Harmeling’s gregarious style, Marjorie Stanley wrote, “Elmer Harmeling was, rotund, good natured and definitely popular.”62 Harmeling would later sell the Alibi and the Alibi would continue on for many years, but Islanders who knew the Alibi when it was Harmeling’s would fondly remember that era.
An addition 20’x36’ was added to the Kimmel Store frozen storage in 1936, there were 250 lockers able to hold 350 lbs of meat. It was in effect a mini packing plant, butchered meat brought in by customers could be hung in a cold room for aging. From there the store would cut the meat into various cuts, wrap and label the meat, then place the meat in the customer’s locker. The lockers were held at zero to fifteen degrees. Fresh fruit and vegetables were frozen so quickly that they retained much of their texture and flavor. For customers it was a valuable service in a time when freezers were not common household appliances and families grew crops and raised farm animals to eat.
Harold Brenno took over the Stevenson gas station in 1937, recalling how he got started in the auto repair business, Brenno wrote,
I quit school two weeks into high school and went to work for the Zarth Garage at Center, we called it the “Peanut College”, I learned more there than at school…In February 1937, I bought Fred Stevenson’s gas station for $500.00, Casper Middling and Charlie Alhquist owned the lot, Lloyd Raab bought lot and station, we rented for awhile then we bought from Raab…We had a tow truck with 24 hour service and AAA service for 30 years, we had a lot of members on the Island, it worked well with the tow truck service. We also had oxygen and acetylene tanks, the oxygen business was good, construction work and garages used a lot of oxygen, we also had a Presto Log business.63
In 1938, several new businesses started in town. Ora Robinson and her son Bill opened a roller rink in the building next to Bacchus Lumber, J.E. Jacobson opened
shoe repair store. Bill Shakespeare opened a retail outlet in the Alibi building for his Golden Rule Bakery. The first record of a tavern in town came in 1938 the Vashon Island News-Record reported that thieves robbed the tavern and got away with alcohol, cigarettes, candy and punch board prizes.
Demands of increasing business made it necessary for E.C. Paul to expand the Vashon Pharmacy, in 1939 Dr. McMurray built a building on the north side of the Beall-Hansen building and leased it to the Vashon Pharmacy. A report in the Vashon Island News-Recordnoted, “fluorescent lighting has been employed in window lights, these lights are a recent development.”64
In December 1938, the Weiss store had a close-out sale of the entire stock of hardware, dry goods, shoes, paints, and clothing. In January 1939, the store had a grand re-opening as a modern grocery store. Weiss became a member of Associated Grocers as a Shurfine Market, Associated Grocers brought over a store engineer for the remodel. Racks, shelves and tables were lowered for self serve, cooled vegetable and fruit racks were built to help preserve fresh produce. Low gondolas were used in displaying groceries, and the meat department had a large walk-in refrigerated case. The store was now a self serve store where customers could peruse the aisles and departments choosing their own groceries. Also in January 1939, Frank Fuller sold his service station to his son-in-law Al Spencer, who had been managing the station for five years. Spencer renamed it Al’s Super Service.
The Kimmel Store expanded and remodeled in 1940. As the Vashon Island News-Record reported,
In 1927 the present store at Vashon belonging to C.G. Kimmel opened for business in a modern building that was entirely adequate for a stock of general merchandise and the latest word in every respect. It was not many years until an addition for storage was necessary. A short time later the hardware department was crowded out and the Vashon Hardware established and yet later still another addition was built to house a modern locker system, which quickly proved to be an answer to the need of a rural community where much food is raised. Less than two months ago another addition was necessary to take care of increasing business, although this involved moving the two story building occupied by the Alibi, and the office building adjoining the Kimmel store (both were moved south about 30 feet), this was speedily accomplished, and an addition which approximately doubled the floor space is now added, a partition wall on the south was moved giving the store a bigger frontage on Vashon Hwy. A new warehouse with a loading dock was extended to the alley on the east.65
In February 1940, George McCormick bought out Garner Kimmel’s interest in Vashon Hardware, a modern art deco style store front was added shortly after McCormick took over and a partition wall was removed giving the store a bigger frontage. A warehouse with a loading dock was extended west to the alley. The store front that the Daily Needs Market had occupied, in the Beall-Hansen building, had been vacant for many years when Cephus Ramquist leased the space for a Variety store, he took a loan from the Vashon State Bank to buy stock for the store and opened in the spring of 1940. Mary Ann Agren and Betty Tjomsland took over the Sweet Shop and remained it the Betty Ann Cafe. The shop carried pastry and bakery goods, candy, ice cream and coffee. M.P. Bickle built a new building for his furniture store west of Vashon Hardware. A.T. ‘Gus’ Bacchus added to the town of Vashon’s business district when he built a new building south of his lumber store. Bacchus leased the store building to Shirley Coutts, her store, the Shirley Shop, featured women’s wear including hosiery, millinery, dresses, coats and gloves.
In 1941, Mr. Bethea and Fred Erb formed a partnership and purchased the Weiss Grocery store, setting up as the Vashon Shurfine Market. In December 1942, Mr. Bethea purchased the interest of Mr. Erb. In 1944 Betha sold the store to M.A. McCarthy, McCarthy sold the store to Ed Siagle soon after.
After the 1933 fire nothing had been built on the former Martin Block property, in 1941 Brenno Service expanded north to a portion of the Martin Block property. A building was built between Brenno’s and the Deppman building to the north. Lloyd Raab opened Raab Auto Sales, later becoming a Ford dealership. The Vashon Island News-Recordreported,
Work is well started on the new building which will go up on the Middling property. The structure will extend from the beer parlor to Brenno’s oil rack, which will be used by Mr Brenno as a sales space for tires and auto accessories. There will be a continuous concrete floor along a 90 foot frontage. The showroom, leased by Mr. Raab will be 20×60 feet. He has also rented the vacant lot between Brenno’s and the theater for a used car lot. This is now the only vacant lot in the main business block.66
During the WWII years the Island had a robust response to the war effort. Paul Billingsley along with other Island leaders and businessmen met at the Alibi for a legendary meeting where the Island’s Civil Defense volunteer force was created. Rationing, and limited supplies, all affected Island businesses and consumers. In town growth was limited, though two new businesses were added, and Kimmel’s added a cold storage facility. With the onset of the United States involvement in WWII the Island’s Japanese community was put into turmoil. In his book A Brief History of Vashon Island, Bruce Haulman wrote of the Japanese’s plight, “during the 1920s and 1930s the Japanese became an integral part of the Vashon community…The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 dramatically changed the lives of Vashon’s Japanese resident’s.”67On May 16, 1942, the Island’s Japanese community was ordered to assemble at the Island Club (present day Ober Park), from there they were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war. As Haulman recounted, “For the Vashon Japanese the war shattered their community and it would never fully recover. The Japanese community went from a vibrant, integral part of island life with more than 120 members, to fewer than 40 by best estimates.”68Vashon had long been in need of a fire department so in 1941 Paul Billingsley, commissioner of Local Defense for WWII, appointed Fergie Beall as captain of Civilian Fire Defense. King County Commissioners sent over a county fire truck, and Beall Greenhouse employees volunteered as firefighters. In 1942 the Vashon Island News-Recordreported,
The long-awaited and hoped for Vashon Island fire district is at last in sight. It became possible when a meeting of the King County Commissioners, acting on the petitions which where circulated around the Island some weeks ago, voted in favor of the district at their meeting February 2…Many efforts have been made in the past to establish a fire district, the process was revived last fall when the Volunteer fire service set up by Civilian Defense proved its efficiency.69
The measure passed and the Vashon Fire Department was created in 1942.
The end of an era came in 1943 when Elmer Harmeling sold the Alibi restaurant to James Smyth and Bob Cummings. The Vashon Island News-Record reported,” Operated on a basis of friendliness and with a staff that hadn’t forgotten how Mother used to cook. The fame of the Alibi has been carried far and wide, both by Islanders and our summer visitors who once they had indulged in Alibi cooking were continued patrons.”70
In 1943, the King County Library System, a system of libraries in outlying areas was created, Vashon was awarded a library and a temporary library was sent up. The county paid for books, distribution costs and a librarian’s salary, property and buildings were provided by the communities awarded libraries. Later in 1943 a new water tower was built in town and four new fire hydrants were added and old hydrants replaced. The new hydrants met the Fire Underwriters specifications and reduced business fire insurance rates for the town’s businesses by 49%.
Cephus Ramquist bought the Beall-Hansen building in 1944, and expanded the Vashon Variety store. The Vashon State Bank celebrated it’s thirty fifth anniversary in 1944. The homegrown bank was at the forefront of the development of the town of Vashon, bank owners and employees were all local people. As the Vashon Island News-Recordreported, “Island people and an Island Bank.”71
Parking was an issue in town so in 1945 parking restrictions were put in place, two hour parking from six am to seven pm in the town of Vashon along with a twenty mph speed limit in town. Parking areas were added in the alley behind Kimmel’s, behind Brenno’s and behind the Hardware store. Another office building with space for lease was built by Gus Bacchus in 1945, to the north of his building occupied by the Shirley Shop. The building was “modern” of concrete block construction with a brick front, and built by contractor John Jensen, who the same year built an expansion of the frozen lockers for Kimmel’s Store. Jensen built many other Vashon business buildings of the era such as, the Fuller Garage, the new England & Peterson and Beall Hansen buildings, that were built after the 1933 fire.
In 1945, Holert Electric moved into the north portion of the new Bacchus building, Frank Holert a Vashon resident who had an electric company in Seattle ran the Vashon store which sold Westinghouse, Hotpoint, and Universal appliances, many Islanders saw their first TV at the Holert Electric shop, Vashon Home Bakery opened in the south portion of the building. The same year Elmer Harmeling bought the Mace garage building and opened a State Liquor Store, S.C. Bard also ran his construction business from the property. After 26 years of being in business on Vashon, Axel Peterson sold Peterson Feed & Lumber and Vashon Auto Freight to Carl Holert and Walt Murray. The next year Holert sold the auto fright business to Murray.
Hit by a devastating fire in the middle of the Great Depression the town of Vashon bounced right back, with most buildings rebuilt within six weeks, only two buildings were not rebuilt. But the national economy affected the Island, an agricultural depression in the late 20s and 30s led to a collapse in the farming and chicken ranching industries on the Island and a decline in the Island’s population.
POST WAR GROWTH 1946-1960
By 1946, other Island towns had stopped growth. Auto ferries made it possible to commute to Seattle and Tacoma for work, a new generation of “commuters” began to populate the Island. With new residents and tourists the Island economy began to diversify. Modernization of stores, due to advances in refrigeration and store design helped bring customers to the town of Vashon. A bank, modern pharmacy, variety store, hardware store, two lumber stores, a woman’s apparel store and a modern appliance store brought even more customers to town. The returning veterans and optimistic times would boost the town of Vashon into what it is today. Washington State took over the ferries in 1951, bringing new Islanders who could now rely on a dependable ferry service, making commuting a more viable option. Vashon stores modernized and expanded to meet new demand and utilized modern technology, new businesses were created to serve the population, and the town grew beyond the main street.
The Vashon Theater housed in the old YMCA building, caught fire in February 1946. The fire, fanned by a twenty mph southwest wind, consumed the building quickly. The wind kept the fire from reaching Brenno Service to the north, if it had caught the entire section re-built from the 1933 fire could have been lost. Firefighters kept the Presbyterian Church from burning by keeping water on it.
A Memorial Foundation had been organized and founded for the purpose of building a community meeting place and to construct a recreational center, which would be dedicated to the veterans of WWII. The Memorial Foundation took over the buildings and grounds of the old Community House and it became known as the “Island Club”, since the site had been purchased by a community group in 1925, it had been well used by the community, but the building was in disrepair.
In March 1946, the Vashon Memorial Library was opened on Bank Road. The modern brick building was dedicated to Islanders lost in WWII and was built with community donations. Marjorie Stanley was the first librarian. Other new buildings that year included a concrete building on the northeast side of Vashon Hwy for the HI-Grade Dairy. An office building built by Gus Bacchus, who moved the feed storage building on the north side of Bacchus Lumber to the rear of the lot to make room for a store building. Puget Power & Light Company moved their crew headquarters and office into the new building. In August of 1946, work began on a new Vashon Theater on the west side of Vashon Hwy at the south end of town. The construction was done by Island contractor Deb Harrington who also built many of the towns buildings including, the Vashon Memorial Library, and the Vashon Pharmacy building.
Several businesses changed hands in 1946, E.C. Paul sold the Vashon Pharmacy to H.J Plowhead, Dawn’s Dress Shop opened in the Shirley Shop’s old space, the Vashon Variety Store held a sixth anniversary sale and planned an expansion to allow space for added lines of appliances. Jim Smyth sold the Alibi to Mr. and Mrs. Baer in 1946. Under Smyth’s management the Alibi had continued to be the place to eat and meet and the restaurant’s popularity grew. The Parasol Cafe opened in the former Thompson building north of the tavern in 1946, later that year it was sold to Bud Bath who remained it the Coffee And Cafe.
In 1947, Carl Holert split the former Peterson Feed & Lumber business and sold the feed business to the Forsmark Brothers, who moved the business to the Gorsuch barn on Bank Road. Holert renamed the business Vashon Lumber & Supply. Holert remodeled the old feed store, and expanded the hardware department, adding lines of General Electric household appliances and name brand woodworking tools. In May the new modern theater opened, unlike the old theater it was designed as a movie theater by an architect who had designed other theaters. A slanted floor for better sight lines and a ventilation system that changed air in the theater every ten minutes and included heat was added, along with new modern projectors, and seating for 500, made it a popular addition to the town. In October Al’s Service opened a new garage on the west side of Vashon Hwy south of the new theater and across the street from the original Al’s Service. A year later Al’s added a service station to the new garage and moved the whole operation, vacating the original location.
In 1948, the Baer’s closed the Alibi restaurant. In July Bud Bath, after selling the Coffee And Cafe to Bill Bell, took over the Alibi. Bath had earned a reputation offering personal service and excellent food which caused many Islanders to urge him to reopen the Alibi. The Vashon Island News-Record reported
Under Harmeling the Alibi became the focal point of Island business and recreational affairs…The Cafe was sold to Jim Smyth during the war, who continued the tradition of the early years, when it was desirable to find anyone, talk to anyone, or meet anyone, the Alibi was always the place. When it went into decline after Smyth sold it regrets were expressed on all sides…Mr. Bath, was thoroughly imbued with the spirit and feeling of the original establishment. It is his hope to bring back that feeling of sentiment which so many people shared towards the Alibi.72
A fire station was built west of town of Bank Road in 1948, Deb Harrington was the contractor. The new building could house all the equipment and had a meeting room. Later in 1948, the Vashon Cleaners, a laundry, opened in the north half of the Coffee And building. The building was built in 1927, and for many years had housed Steffenson Electric Shop
The Kimmel store remodeled in 1949, a new entrance was put in, the meat department was moved back into the former warehouse to make room for new self serve fixtures, new shelving made it easier for customers to reach dry goods. A modern vegetable case, frozen food case and delicatessen case were all added. The new cases, as the Vashon Island News-Record reported, “make it a pleasure to shop at this modern store.”73The end of an era at the Kimmel store came when Garner Kimmel retired later in 1949. For forty years Kimmel had worked in the grocery business in the town of Vashon, first at the Vashon Landing store, then at the Gerry store and finally at the Peterson store where he later became partner and eventually bought outright. His son Chuck Kimmel and partner Paul Cook took over the store.
Ramquist’s sold their Variety Store to the Fredrickson’s of Tacoma in June 1949, after ten years in business. The Variety Store occupied the north half of the Beall-Hansen building, which Ramquist owned. A year later Fredrickson sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Ebinger. The south half of the building was Ramquist’s Appliance Store, in an interview Mrs. Ramquist said, “because of our growing appliance business we feel it necessary to sell the Variety Store so that we can devote all our energies to electronic appliances, oil heaters and furnaces and their servicing.”
Marie Mickle and Chris Remme were the owners and operators of Vashon Bowl, a bowling alley, built in 1949, just south of the Island Club, the Vashon Island News-Recordreported, “according to news releases in city papers this is the first time in the history of the sport that women have both owned and operated alleys.”73
In 1950, the Vashon State Bank made an addition which doubled their quarters square footage. The interior of the building was modernized, a new door installed on the vault and more safety deposit boxes were added. The same year Deb Harrington built a building west of the bank on Bank Road for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, William Bell sold the Coffee And to Ruth and Earl Willers, Tom Godfrey bought Jacobson Shoe Repair and the Vashon Island News-Record moved their offices across the street to the Bacchus building.
In 1951, Larry and Bea Ryan purchased a building just west of the Bank building, that had been occupied by Danielson Jewelry. The Ryan’s opened a apparel shop featuring boys and mens clothing. Lloyd Raab took over operation of the Vashon Theater. O.A. Ramquist in his sixteenth year in business in the Beall-Hansen building had Deb Harrington put a new modern storefront on the building. Chuck Kimmel bought out Paul Cook’s interest in the Kimmel store which at this time was part of the Thriftway chain.
Kimmel’s made a move to modernize in 1952. The Vashon Island News-Recordreported,
At the new no-waiting self service case you will find the various cuts of meat warped in transparent cellophane so that you may see the piece of meat you are buying. No longer do you have to wait until the butcher can wait on you-just pick out your package of meat and you may now pay for it at the check stand with your groceries…The third check stand has been put into operation so that there will be as little delay as possible…This new innovation for Vashon Island store is but a forerunner to the other changes to be made that will make this as modern a grocery as can be found anywhere on the mainland.74
Kimmel wanted to provide the Island with the most modern grocery store possible so one month after the remodel the dry goods section was closed for expansion of the staple grocery section and popular new self service meat department. In May new mercury vapor street light were installed in town. The Vashon Business Men’s Club had been working on getting lights for several years finally came up with a plan whereby the property owners in the area affected paid for the lights and shared the yearly cost of power and maintenance.
In 1952, the Island Theater was insulated, redecorated, painted, and air-conditioning was installed. After these improvements Island artist Jac Tabor painted a mural in the main theater. The mural (still there) was, “Exciting a good deal of interest and comment.” reported the Vashon Island News-Record.75
The town got a new post office building in 1954. The building was built on the property where former England & Peterson had a lumber shed. Carl Holert who owned the building and ran Vashon Lumber & Supply from it and the other England & Peterson building, removed the lumber shed and built the post office building under contract from the government. The post office moved into the north half of the building and the south half was leased as an office. The first fast food restaurant came to town in 1954, when Cephus Ramquist, who owned a lot north of the Vashon Theater, built a building to house a Dairy Queen, Red Moffit was the manager. The Dairy Queen was an instant hit and a popular teen hang out.
1955 was another busy year for the booming town of Vashon. Bill Robinson moved into a new building north of the Dairy Queen for his business, Robinson Furniture, after being in business a year in another location. The old T.N. Thompson building north of the tavern, built 1927 was torn down and a new building rebuilt there (present day May’s Thai). Fred Sherman built both the Dairy Queen and the new Coffee And Cafe building. The Coffee And Cafe moved back into the new building under the management of Herm Hoshi, Island Cleaners moved into the other half of the building.
In March Kimmel’s store announced plans to remove the Kimmel office building, to the south of the store and expand the store south, with this the store moved into the supermarket age. An addition of more than 3,000 feet of floor space allowed the store to bring in the latest in refrigerated and frozen cases. New self serve meat cases were added and the meat department enlarged. Frozen foods were new and popular, Kimmel’s added 40 feet of frozen cases. An expanded produce department stretched across the back of the store and twenty feet of dairy cases boasting over 30 kinds of cheese and eggs.
Another era came to an end in 1955, Bud Bath closed the Alibi to do major remodeling but instead, owner of the building and property, Garner Kimmel, decided that with new buildings on each side of the Alibi it was time to build a new building for the restaurant. Bill Beymer wrote an Ode to the Alibi in the Vashon Island News-Record.
A sorry sight it is to see The old Cafe torn down…It’s weathered walls held for me An ever-glowing crown To oldsters and to kids alike To all a friendly place created by dear friends of mine Elmer Harmeling and Grace memories are priceless things As time goes speeding by, And it hurts a bit to say so long To our beloved old Alibi.75
The new Alibi building was completed in 1956, it gave the restaurant a larger space that including a dining room as well as a banquet room which was badly needed due to the attendance of various clubs and civic meetings at the restaurant. Harold Brenno opened a modern steel built Shell Station on the old Island Theater property he had bought after the theater burned. He wrote,
The Theater burned down next door in 1946, after, as the fire cooled off, we bought the lot from Mr Shears… I opened the new station on the property December 23, 1955, I ran it for 10 months, I could not run all the businesses, it was getting too big, I had to hire help and it wasn’t paying good. I rented to Bob Clayton, Baker & Gifford, then to, Larson & Gimblett, after Larsen & Gimblett my son Bobby took over.76
Other 1955 developments, the Kelly Department Store opened west of the bank in a new building. The Rand’s built an addition to the log cabin and son in law Paul Schwartz ran his insurance business out of the building. Bacchus lumber built a show-room-office on the north side of the lumber store.
A Youth Center building (present day Vashon Park District building), was built on the Island Club property. Inez Hedman General Chairman of the Vashon-Maury Youth Activities stated, “The interest and participation of our Island youth have filled the Scout Cabin to such an extent that the variety and extent of activities are seriously handicapped. The new building will particularly adapted to our needs, will permit a greatly expanded program to serve all groups.”77 The Kiwanis Club raised the money and built the building with volunteer labor from the community.
In 1957, Carl Holert built a new building west of Al’s Service for his company, Vashon Lumber & Supply. The new building allowed everything to be under one roof in a new self service format, it also had ample space for parking, the old store on Vashon Hwy, where limited parking had plagued customers for years.
M.P. Bickle moved out of the building he built behind the Hardware store and moved Bickle Furniture to the former Weiss store building. Island Industries bought the Bickle building, the printing business employed 30 people and about 80 outside typists. Island Industries would remain in business in the building until 1997. Bill Willingham bought the Vashon Pharmacy from the Plowhead’s and the Pharmacy took over the whole Beall-Hansen building. Ebinger’s moved Vashon Variety to the former England & Peterson and Vashon Lumber & Supply building.
In August of 1958, the Vashon Island News-Record reported, Construction will start next month on the new 13,500 square foot supermarket southwest of the Vashon business district to be occupied by Kimmel’s Shop-Rite and Vashon Home Bakery…it’s a big plunge, Chuck Kimmel said, but our business has increased 25% in the past year and we’ve got to do something…Parking around the building will accommodate 200 cars…The store will have it’s own bakery plant and sales area, 80 feet of meat cases, 38 feet of dairy and delicatessen cases, 60 feet of refrigerated produce, 96 feet of ice cream and frozen foods, a snack bar, walk-in and reach-in beverage cases, six check stands…The move to the new 3 1/2 acre tract a block west of the Island Theater has been contemplated for several years. The change to commercial zoning was approved by the King County Planning Commission earlier this year.78
The new Kimmel’s supermarket opened July 7, 1959, Kimmel Plaza would become the anchor for business growth on the west side of town. The store was the Island’s most modern and popular store, with many loyal customers, but the store would soon be challenged when Chuck Kimmel left the store soon after it opened, subsequently thrusting his wife Lorranie into running the store with no prior experience other than working as a checker in the store. Groundbreaking in her industry as the only woman in the country running a store, she was recognized for her accomplishments in the industry and gave a keynote speech to the National Association of Retail Grocers of the United States, in Las Vegas in 1967.
A modern traffic light was installed at the main intersection in town to alleviate the traffic congestion in 1959. The Vashon Island News-Record reported,
Island drivers and pedestrians unused to anything but stop and go at home, still were wrestling at mid-week over the sophistication of the new red, green, yellow traffic signal at the Vashon intersection. Installed by the county last Thursday, the signal gives north and south-bound traffic a minute of green to every 30 seconds for east and west traffic. It remains directional from 7 a.m. to 8 p m. and has a four-way blinker at other hours. After a short period of confusion Thursday, the light was put in full operation on Friday but was slow to catch on, Deputy Don Holke said.79
Because the light was at times a four way stop and other times a timed light the confusion continued and the timed light was eventually removed.
The town of Vashon’s formative years ended with the 1950s, the town would truly enter the modern era in the 1950s, as it continued to expand and modernize. Modernization in the town was the focus of several articles in the March 24, 1960 Vashon-Maury Beachcomber, a 6,000 square foot Sprouse Ritz Variety Store opening next to the new Kimmel’s supermarket, boasting a selection of over 10,000 items was announced. Ken Johnson opened Island Appliance Store in the old Kimmel Store building and optometrist Grant Linscog opened an office in town. In July the Vashon-Maury Beachcomber reported bids were being taken to construct a new post office building.
An early steamboat stop at Vashon Landing allowed access to the area for settlers and farmers, settlement in the area grew and soon large scale strawberry farms created the need for farm to market roads. The resulting wagon traffic carrying produce to and from the Vashon Landing created a crossroads in the future town site. In 1890, Frank Gorsuch built a general store at the crossroads, giving a start to the town of Vashon. By 1893, there were communities at Aquarium, Vashon, Burton, Lisabula, Chautauqua, Dockton, Center and Cove, access to a steamer dock was a vital link between each community and the outside world. As communities grew around steamer docks post offices and stores came, other industry followed.
Burton became the hub for goods and people traveling to and from the Island, Burton was the commercial center for the southern Island and an all important connection to Tacoma. Settlement developing to the north at Center and Vashon created an attitude of competition between the north and south, setting up an imaginary Mason Dixon Line running along the current day Cemetery Road. This imagined line would influence development and attitudes on the Island for years to come.
In 1907, the first car was brought to Vashon signaling coming changes in transportation modes. In 1916 the first auto ferry was located near Portage and ran to Des Moines. A car ferry dock was built at Vashon Heights in 1919, a year later the Portage-Des Moines ferry service was eliminated. The town of Vashon became the primary crossroads of goods and people going off Island and the businesses in Vashon prospered partially because of the ferry traffic that came through town.
Car ferries spelled the end of the Mosquito Fleet and the growth of the steamer dock towns. In 1921, the official opening of the Island’s first paved road, from the town of Vashon to the Heights ferry dock, brought more business through town. The Mason Dixon Line blurred as more roads developed and car use became widespread. The Island became more unified and the town of Vashon was solidified as the main town as Burton, Dockton, Portage and other small communities faded.
The opening of Vashon State Bank in 1908 and the platting of the former Gorsuch property into business lots was influential in the town of Vashon becoming the main town of the Island. Development in town led to five town business property owners leasing space to a dozen businesses by 1930.
Post WWII, a new public library, theater, youth center, and bowling alley offered recreational activities for a growing population. The biggest step in modern-ization came with the new Kimmel supermarket west of Vashon Hwy in 1959, before this time the town had been limited to the main street. Kimmel’s supermarket, with it’s 200 car parking lot, built on top of a former strawberry field, was a symbol of changes in transportation modes that created less isolated communities, a more unified Island and a central main town, literally building a new modern Vashon on top of the strawberry industry that had helped establish the town.
37. Harold Brenno, Memoir
38. Vashon Island News-Record, January 21, 1921
39. Howard W. Lynn, Maury’s Island and Quartermaster’s Harbor, p.49
40. Vashon Island News-Record, April 21, 1922, p. 1
41. Vashon Island News-Record,June 16, 1922, p. 1
42. Pamela Woodruff,Vashon Island’s Agricultural Roots, p. 74
43. Vashon Island News-Record, July 3, 1930, p.1
44. Vashon Island News-Record, January 8, 1926, p. 1
45. Vashon Island News-Record, April 30, 1926, p. 1
46. Elsie Ibsen, My Father’s Grocery Store, Vashon Loop, June 7, 2001
47. Vashon Island News-Record, February 17, 1928
48. Marjorie Stanley, Search for Laughter
49. Larry Trotter, Old Vashon Pictures and Stories, facebook post
53. O.S. Van Olinda, History of Vashon Maury Islands, p. 70
54. Vashon Island News-Record, May 4, 1933, p. 1
55. Vashon Island News-Record, April 17, 1933
56. Ibid, p. 1
57. Ibid, p. 1
58. Vashon Island News-Record, December 3, 1936
59. The Harmeling Legacy, The Past Remembered II, p. 120
60. Marjorie Stanley, Search for Laughter
61. Vashon Island News-Record, October 22, 1936
62. Marjorie Stanley, Search for Laughter
63. Harold Brenno, Memoir
64. Vashon Island News-Record, June 29, 1939, p. 1
65. Vashon Island News-Record, August 8, 1940, p. 1
66. Vashon Island News-Record,April 10, 1941, p. 1
67. Bruce Haulman, A Brief History of Vashon Island, p. 118, 121
68. Ibid, p. 122
69. Vashon Island News-Record, February 5, 1942, p. 1
70. Vashon Island News-Record, September 12, 1943, p.
71. Vashon Island News-Record, March 30, 1944
72. Vashon Island News-Record, July 22, 1948
73. Vashon Island News-Record,May 5, 1949, p. 1
74. Vashon Island News-Record, March 30, 1952, p.1
75. Vashon Island News-Record, November 3, 1955, p. 1
76. Harold Brenno, Memoir
77. Vashon Island News-Record, June 23, 1955, p. 1
78. Vashon Maury Beachcomber, August 28, 1958, p. 1
79. Vashon Maury Beachcomber, July 23, 1959, p. 1