Finn Hill’s History
A Look Into the Past
The great Corderillan ice sheet that covered the Puget Sound for millenia slowly began to retreat about 18,000 years ago, leaving behind the Puget Sound, freshwater lakes, and drumlins, including Finn Hill. Thereafter, Finn Hill’s streams and shores served as fishing grounds for the indigenous Salish Peoples. Prior to European settlement, the hill was dominated by Douglas fir, hemlock and western red cedar.
The mouth of Juanita Creek (today’s Juanita Beach Park), just south and west of Finn Hill, was home to a settlement of the Duwamish tribe called TUHB-tuh-byookw, one of several Duwamish settlements along what is now Kirkland’s lakeshore. These settlements were abandoned after the Duwamish ceded 54,000 acres of land under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot.
Early European settlers of Finn Hill were predominantly of Finnish descent. The first families settled in 1896; some of the 55 families in the area include the Reinikainen (later changed to Raine), Norman, Mielonen, Peltonen, Lindquist, Jarvi, Salmonson, and Haapa families. Families shared 29 saunas (one of which can be found at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle). At one time there were three halls for community dances, plays, and other programs.
As elsewhere in Kirkland, these early settlers first logged the area, then burned and pulled out the massive stumps left behind to prepare the land for agriculture. The Woodins Logging Co. built a tramway in the ravine next to Goodwill Hill to take the logs from the top of the hill to Juanita Bay. A dock – Hubbards Landing -- was constructed near the current site of Michaels at 98th and 116th for loading timber on cargo ships. It later became a ferry stop.
The areas of Finn Hill that had been clear cut were turned into fruit orchards and vegetable, chicken and dairy farms.
After Lake Washington was lowered by the Montlake Cut in 1916, Juanita Beach became a popular day and weekend resort for Seattle families, with cabins for rent. Small lots were plotted on Goat Hill overlooking Juanita Beach for privately owned cabins and camp sites.
At the southern tip of Finn Hill, one of Seattle’s leading architects, Paul Kirk, designed a unique subdivision in the 1970s known as Finn Hill Meadows; it consists of 21 circular one-acre lots surrounded by common open space. During or shortly after World War II, an anti-aircraft battalion was stationed atop Finn Hill, and photographs suggest it may have been located on the Finn Hill meadows.
The Inglewood neighborhood at the top of Finn Hill was first platted and named by L.A. Wold in 1888. A small airstrip was later laid out on the site of what is now the Inglewood shopping center.
O.O. Denny Park, located on Lake Washington midway between Juanita Bay and St. Edward Park, is named for Orion Denny, son of Seattle founder Arthur Denny. The property was Orion’s country estate, Klahanie, and his widow willed it to the City of Seattle. The property was later used as a summer camp for youth before it was opened to the public as a park.
As Seattle was preparing for the 1962 World’s Fair, and the 10,000,000 people who came to to experience it, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge was completed to connect Kirkland to Seattle. This led to a sharp increase in the population of communities on the Eastside, including Kirkland and Finn Hill.
Today, single-family residential homes have replaced farms and agriculture. Once located in unincorporated King County, Finn Hill was annexed by the City of Kirkland in 2011.
The Benjamin Reinikainen Family, circa 1908, the first family to build on Finn Hill (east of Lake Washington.
Photo by the Barrie and Raine/Snow Collections.
Want to dig a little deeper into Finn Hill’s history? Check out these sources:
Kirkland Native History Document: kirkland-native-history-document.pdf (kirklandwa.gov)
Juanita Beach cabins: Juanita Beach Park History (kirklandwa.gov)
O.O. Denny park history: O. O. Denny Park - HistoryLink.org
FHNA History Project – various blog posts about Finn Hill’s first European settlers: History Project | Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance (finnhillalliance.org)
King County Parcel Viewer – Base maps of King County that includes an aerial image of Finn Hill from 1936: King County Parcel Viewer
Kirkland Heritage Society – an excellent source of information about Kirkland history: Kirkland Heritage Society