Sand Point map of 1894
There was not yet a road called Sand Point Way NE when the first commercial activities began at about NE 70th Street on Lake Washington. In the 1880s Edward F. Lee had a boat-building shop there, and Osborn M. Merritt had a shingle mill. Merritt was from Pontiac, Michigan, and the name he chose for his business, Pontiac Shingle Mill, “caught on” as names sometimes do, as a name for the area.
The next business to open was named Pontiac Brick Company, a brickmaking plant owned by the investors group of Thomas Burke, Morgan J. Carkeek and Corliss P. Stone.
With fortuitous timing, the brick plant at Pontiac was set up and ready to operate just before Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. The Fire burned a wide swath of downtown Seattle business blocks which had almost all wood-frame buildings. In the rebuilding after the Fire it was ordered that new structures must be built of brick and stone. The Pontiac Brick Company roared into production to make bricks for new buildings in Seattle.
Judge Thomas Burke was an attorney, real estate investor and civic activist in Seattle.
The Pontiac Brick Company was sited for access to clay for making bricks and it was also alongside the tracks of the new Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad (SLS&E) which had just been put through in 1887.
Thomas Burke and his railroad co-developer Daniel Gilman planned the railroad line for this very purpose, to access sites of natural resources and commercial production. The SLS&E route has been preserved as today’s Burke-Gilman Trail.
Pontiac at Lake Washington had a lot of activity for a few years, most especially during the years of the brick plant. Mr. Lee of the boat building shop served as postmaster for the mail which came by train. There was a Pontiac School for the community’s children from 1908-1911. The school closed as there was not much activity in the area any more after that.
This blog post will tell how Sand Point Way NE developed as an arterial road because of the Naval Air Station at about NE 74th Street on Lake Washington.