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Newly-Digitized Press Yields More Than 100 Years of Stories

There is a new tool available for anyone researching life in Issaquah, doing local genealogy, or trying to confirm a fact from the past. Thanks to a generous donation from local philanthropist Skip Rowley, of Rowley Properties, the Issaquah History Museums have made the full archives of The Issaquah Press available online, in a format that is both searchable and free to the user. Interested residents, researchers, and others can view more than 100 years worth of The Issaquah Press via an ArchiveInABox website.

The Issaquah Press started out as The Issaquah Independent, and its first issue was published on January 18, 1900. The weekly newspaper played a critical role as observer and recorder of events in Issaquah and the surrounding area. As Issaquah changed from a booming coal-mine town to a quiet farming community, and then to a growing suburb of Seattle, The Issaquah Press captured the stories and images that made Issaquah unique. Many local businesses, organizations, and individuals can trace important events in their development through the pages of the Press. When the Press closed up shop in February 2017, it was universally mourned.

In March 2018, the Seattle Times donated the full collection of Issaquah Press back issues to the Issaquah History Museums. Each of the 184 volumes consist of several years worth of newspapers bound together within a hardbound cover. Each volume is roughly two feet high and a foot wide. Lacking sufficient space at the Gilman Town Hall, we rented climate-controlled storage space to accommodate the collection.

Once the back issues were appropriately stored, staff began planning for a complete digitization. Selected issues of The Issaquah Press were digitized by a company called Smalltown Papers in the early 2000s. However, more than half of the Issaquah Press collection remained inaccessible — unless the prospective researcher was willing to use an aged microfilm reader paired with microfilm created in the 1980s.

In December 2018, Skip Rowley pledged to cover the cost of digitizing the remaining half of undigitized Press issues. Once the project was funded, Digital Archives Specialist Kris Ikeda began shipping bound Issaquah Press volumes to a digitization facility in Frederick, Maryland for processing. Digitization of the remaining Issaquah Press issues took 8 months, during which time 3,311 editions (consisting of 43,513 pages) were scanned. 

Note that a small percentage of the Issaquah Press remains lost. Issues between 1900 and 1907, and between 1911 and 1918, are missing, their bound volumes lost sometime before the Press was microfilmed in the early 1980s. When you’re researching a particular topic, it can often feel like everything interesting that ever happened in Issaquah occurred during those gaps. We are always on the lookout for Issaquah Press issues that fall into these gaps. I try to keep a half-glass full attitude, and remain grateful for the thousands of issues, documenting more than 100 years, that do exist.

Ready to dive into Issaquah’s past? Follow this link to our ArchiveInABox site, where you can browse, search, and read through our community’s stories.

Bellevue Hotel

Looking back: Bellevue Hotel

Published in the Issaquah Press on June 24, 1988

LookBack6-24-98BThousands drive by the intersection of Front Street and Sunset Way each day, giving the downtown intersection (below) a thoroughly modern, busy feel despite nearby architecture from the old days. However, the corner has been a busy place for more than 100 years. Thomas and Mary Francis build the Bellevue Hotel on the southeast corner of this intersection, completing construction in May 1888. A very early picture of the structure (above) shows the two-story hotel with board sidewalks on the north and west side, a small one-story addition to the east side and a one-story addition to the rear of the structure. A dining room is located in the back of the hotel, with an entrance on the west side. Even in Squak, Washington Territory, in 1888, the local residents had an eye for nature. Note the small tree that had been planted in front of the hotel, protected by a board frame”

Bellevue Hotel

The Bellevue hotel was completed in May 1888. [IHM photo 72.21.14.217]

Bellevue Hotel

Looking back: Bellevue Hotel

Published in the Issaquah Press on July 1, 1988

Bellevue Hotel

Bellevue Hotel circa 1912. [IHM photo]

The Bellevue Hotel, at the southeast corner of the intersection between Front Street and Sunset Way, was quite a landmark in the early 1900’s. This photo, taken around 1912, shows that the entrance to the hotel was moved to the one story addition on the east side of the building. The double doors provided an entrance to the tavern, where “No Minors Allowed” adorns the glass above the doors. That tree that was so small in the previous photo is now a hearty specimen, and there are both power and telephone poles in place on each side of the structure.

Mill Street

Looking back: Corner of Front and Sunset

Published in the Issaquah Press on July 22, 1998

Mill Street

Looking East down Mill Street, now known as Sunset Way, circa 1920. [IHM photo photo 91.7.91]

In 1917, the Francis family sells the Bellevue Hotel to Wilson Tibbetts, who starts an automotive garage in the building. Tibbetts soon sells to Case and Lee Hepler and, sometime around 1919, the front of the old hotel is removed and a new one-story brick structure is built to house a Ford sales and service center. This view is looking eastward down Mill Street, now known as Sunset Way. The concrete paving of Mill Street, which occurred in the mid-1920s, has yet to be done in this photograph. Later, the dealership becomes Hepler Motors, where model-T Fords cost $365.

Hepler Motors 1948

Looking back: Hepler Motors

Published in the Issaquah Press on July 22, 1998

Hepler Motors 1948

Big debut of 1949 Ford models at Hepler Auto Sales, 1948. Lee Hepler is at left. Girl on right is Beverly Morril, whose father was a salesperson at Hepler. Woman in center is Minnie Schomber. [IHM photo 72.021.014.064H ]

The original site of the 1888 Bellevue Hotel at the corner of Front Street and Sunset Way became home to a Ford dealership, Hepler Motors, in the late 1940s. The last standing portion of the hotel was removed and a new concerte three-bay service area was added to the brick building. Lee Hepler sold the business on his 60th birthday, and the dealership continued as Foothills Ford, Eastage Motors and Malone Ford before it was demolished following damage suffered in the 1965 earthquake.

Front Street and Sunset Way 1971

Looking back: Corner of Front and Sunset

Published in the Issaquah Press on July 29, 1998

Front Street and Sunset Way 1971

Front Street and Sunset Way 1971 [IHM photo photo 72.21.14.118L]

As our trek through time nears modern day, we find that the southeast corner of the Front Street and Sunset Way intersection has evolved a great deal since the Bellevue Hotel first stood there in 1888. After the Ford dealership was torn down after the 1965 earthquake, the popular corner became home to a gas station. This photo, take in 1971, shows a Gulf station at the location. Later it was to become a Gull station before Texaco grabbed the location. Note the flashing light to help traffic through the intersection-and the signs of retail development behind the gas station.

 

Bank of Issaquah

Looking back: Bank of Issaquah

Published in the Issaquah Press on August 5, 1998

Bank of Issaquah

Bank of Issaquah. [IHM photo 89.13.4]

Banks will be the topic of Looking Back for the next few weeks. The top photo is the very first bank in Issaquah, appropriately called First Bank. It was founded by W.W. Sylvester and located in what was then the old Mine Co. office building, according to records kept by the Issaquah Historical Society. Today, the Front Street location of First Bank would be best pinpointed as the north end of the Wold Building, between the old two-story Oddfellows Hall and the basketry shop. (as seen in bottom photo).

 

Issaquah Bank

Looking back: Bank of Issaquah

Published in the Issaquah Press on August 12, 1998

Issaquah Bank

Issaquah Bank [IHM photo photo 89.37.1]

If you’ve ever wondered why the west side of Front Street has wider sidewalks than the east side, the answer lies in this 1910 photograph of the Bank of Issaquah. Located at 111 Front St. N., where the Bicycle Center now resides, the community’s second bank was full of modern inventions. On the left side of the building is the concrete mixer that poured the city’s first concrete sidewalk. Bank owner W.W. Sylvester felt that 11 feet was the optimum width for his sidewalk, so he had his bank set back from Front Street three feet farther than other existing buildings. He eventually talked other business owners into moving their buildings back three feet as well. As a side-note, Sylvester also owned a gravel pit northeast of town. Another modern touch on the bank building was the wireless telegraph (note antennae on rooftop).

 

Bank of Issaquah

Looking back: Bank of Issaquah

Published in the Issaquah Press on August 19, 1998

Bank of Issaquah

Bank of Issaquah [IHM photo 72.21.14.179A]

The Bank of Issaquah was well on its way to becoming one of the primary professional hubs for the community in 1914. At the time this photo was taken, Dr. O.A. Kells had recently opened his office on the second floor of the structure. Although Issaquah previously was home to a physician, Kells was the first surgeon in the growing young town. Dr. C.C. Dobbs, a dentist, also was a tenant in the bank building. A report indicated that typewriters were delivered to the employees at the bank and the doctors, putting them on par with their counterparts in Seattle.

 

Tibbetts Hotel

Looking back: Tibbetts Hotel and Store

Published in the Issaquah Press on June 23, 1999

Tibbetts Hotel

George W. Tibbetts was one of Issaquah’s earliest entrepreneurs. In addition to his hotel and store, he also became involved in farming hops and running a stage line, as well as in local and state government. The hotel shown here was built in 1884 and burned to the ground in July 1900. Living quarters and rooms to rent were upstairs. [IHM photo 92-24-6, p13, #11 Arcadia book caption]

With the recent completion of the second Issaquah Park-n-Ride lot along State Route 900 just south of Interstate 90, now is a good time to examine the history of that area. It previously was known as Goode’s Corner. This photo shows George W. Tibbetts Hotel and Store, which was built in 1884 and served as the local stage stop and overnight resting place. It was a popular locale until it was destroyed by fire in July 1900.