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Mount Baker Club: 80 Years Strong

Dances, masquerades and a rose show were among its first-year events.

RVHS #98.65.01

The Mount Baker Clubhouse is 85 years old this year. (1999). The facility, at 2811 Mount Rainier Dr S., still serves the purpose for which it was built, as a place for meetings and social events in this closely knit community. Completed in 1914, the clubhouse was home to the Mount Baker Social Club. Activities held at the facility in its first year included formal balls, informal dances, masquerades and “Auction Bridge,” as well as an annual rose show.

A well remembered activity of later years was the dance for Franklin High School students, held every  Friday evening during the 1940s. Chaperoned by the elderly Mrs. Dose, smoking and drinking were not allowed. 

Though small in stature, Mrs. Dose had a reputation for ejecting anyone who didn’t follow the rules. Those who chose to toe; the line had a good time.

In the first decade of this century, when the Mount Baker neighborhood was being developed, it was named Mount Baker Park. Its attraction today is based on the park-like layouts of its streets and the mature plantings around its attractive houses.

These features are no accident, as the neighborhood plan was designed by the Olmstead Brothers, the premier landscape designers of their day.

A 11914 booklet advertising the neighborhood states that building restrictions prevent the construction of “cheap” houses, apartment buildings and undesirable business structures.” The booklet describes the Mount Baker Improvement Club, which was established to beautify the neighborhood and encourage homeowners to beautify their property. The booklet ends with a list of the roses that grow well in the Northwest and how to cultivate them. 

The park at the community’s center has been recently re-landscaped and provides a lovely meander from South McClellan Street north to Lake Washington. The tennis courts, drinking fountains, restroom structure, beach, bathhouse and dock all are part of the original Olmstead design.

The Mount Baker Clubhouse burned a little over a decade ago and was rebuilt after a well-orchestrated community fund-raising effort. It was rebuilt in the original style, and the fund-raising campaign echoes the community fundraising done to accomplish its construction the first time around.

A well-loved event in the early years of Mount Baker Park was the New Year’s Men’s Day. All of the “Mixers, Good Fellows and Boosters” inn the neighborhoods would assemble at the Clubhouse at 10 a.m. Wearing top hats and dress clothes, they strolled down the streets wishing the neighborhood a happy new year.

Perhaps there should be a return of this event for those looking for an unusual way to celebrate this year’s Millennial New Year's Day.

Marina King is a member of the Rainier Valley Historical Society.

Days Gone By 

South District Journal 3/10/1999

By Marina King


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