Bothell, Washington
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History of Bothell, Washington

Bothell was officially incorporated on April 14, 1909, though it has been inhabited by people of European descent since 1870.

Prior to European settlement, the Sammamish River Valley from Lake Washington to Issaquah Creek south and upstream of Lake Sammamish was inhabited by a population of as many as 200 native Americans known as the Sammamish. The Sammamish were relocated after the Puget Sound War in 1856 to reservations and non-reservation lands.

In 1870, Columbus S. Greenleaf and George R. Wilson filed land claims in the area abandoned by the Sammamish near present-day Bothell, and built homes. Eight families followed over the next six years. In 1876, Canadian George Brackett bought land and began commercial logging out of a camp located on the north bank of the Sammamish River in what is now the heart of downtown Bothell. A store, school, and sawmill followed over the next several years.

In 1885, Brackett sold 80 acres to David Bothell, a settler from Pennsylvania. The town's first postmaster, who bought his property from Bothell, named the town in his honor in 1888. Later that same year, a local railroad was built through the town to transport coal from Issaquah.

Bothell continued to grow as logging expanded and boat traffic brought increasing amounts of goods and passengers up and down the river. As more people moved into the area, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to dredge and straighten the river in the years shortly after Bothell's incorporation. Most boat traffic came to an abrupt end only a few years later when Lake Washington was lowered in 1917. Water transport also shifted to trucks after a brick road was built from Seattle. The logging economy declined quickly around the same time, and the local economy shifted to farming.

After World War II, better highways and a post-war boom brought suburban development to Bothell. These new neighborhoods and a series of annexations dramatically expanded Bothell's population from about 1000 in 1950 to over 30,000 as of 2006. Bothell was mostly a bedroom community for people working in Seattle until the 1990s when business development brought new jobs to create a regional employment center with about 20,000 jobs, many in high technology sectors such as biotechnology and software development. In 2000, a branch campus of the University of Washington opened in Bothell, co-located with Cascadia Community College.

Historic Sites

The Downtown/Riverfront area contains numerous potentially historic structures or sites. The structures illustrate a mix of development times from the 1880s to the 1940s. Many of the structures retain their historic integrity since there has been little remodeling or few additions.

Several potential historic districts have been identified as described below:

  • Downtown – Main Street: Bothell had a major fire in 1911 which destroyed many buildings, but a few remain from 1908, a year before the City incorporated. Others date from the 1920s and 1930s and correspond to the area's changing economy and growth. Some original facades are believed to exist under current false fronts and could be salvageable.

    A façade easement or improvement fund could work to restore these storefronts and could be expanded to provide funds to others with newer buildings to remodel their façades in a style more consistent with the historic buildings. Establishing a historic district would involve coming to agreement among the owners on design standards and criteria for renovations and new construction.
  • Riverside Drive and Eason Avenue: Many of the homes in this area date from one of the earliest periods of Bothell's development. Eason Avenue is remarkable because of the concentration of historic buildings on both sides of this short street. The Skirving House, at 10425 E. Riverside Dr., is on the State Register of Historic Places. The Sorenson House, at 10011 W. Riverside Dr., is on the National and State Register of Historic Places.
  • Central Area: This district is mostly in the Maywood neighborhood, but extends a few blocks south into Downtown. It is primarily residential in nature. Many of the houses are from the 1910s. Bothell was transitioning from a timbering community to a farming community after 1900 and then to a dairy farm emphasis in the 1920s and 1930s. More people moved to town and built homes instead of living on the farm.

Other historic points of interest in the Downtown/Riverfront area include the following:

  • Red Brick Road and Wayne Curve Bridge: This area southwest of the intersection of SR-522 and 96 Avenue NE, includes two remaining artifacts of early twentieth century transportation. A portion of the original 1914 brick road which connected Bothell with Seattle still exists near the southwest corner of SR-522 and Waynita Way. This site is on both the State and Local Historic Registers and is incorporated into Red Brick Road Park. Just across Waynita Way is a bridge, built in 1917, which was part of the old Lake Washington Boulevard system. The remnants of the Bridge are on the local Historic Register.
  • Carr/Hall House: This house, located at 17707 Hall Road, is a potential National Register property and is the oldest standing frame structure in Bothell, dating back to the 1880s.
  • Bothell Pioneer Cemetery: The 5.3 acre Bothell Pioneer Cemetery located east of 108 Avenue NE is the resting place of several of Bothell's founders, several of whom were Civil War veterans. The site has been placed on the National, State and Local Register of Historic Places.

Learn more here: City of Bothell Landmark Preservation

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