by Zachary E. Van Tassel, Greater Kent Historical Society
On Saturday, August 8, at 1 PM, the Mill Creek Neighborhood will host a unique ribbon-cutting event on the corner of Temperance Street and Jason Avenue North in Kent. Late last year, the neighborhood was designated an historic district by the King County Landmarks Commission, and the August 8 ceremony will be held during the citywide “Experience Historical Kent” festival taking place that weekend.
When they came together to form a neighborhood council in 2009, neighbors had not started out with the intention of achieving historical designation. They simply wanted to preserve their community from an apartment complex creeping up from downtown Kent. They used their energy to highlight the importance of the neighborhood to Kent’s history and advocate for its future. Two grants were received from the city of Kent to purchase house plaques which briefly told the history of each house. Considerable research was done to accomplish the task — enough to fill a book. And so they published one, titled A Community of Unique & Historic Homes.
Then many on the Council moved on to take an even more ambitious step in working toward designation as an historic district.
The Mill Creek Historic District contains 57 houses on the East Hill of Kent. The houses were built between 1906 and 1957 by people from all walks of life who lived and worked in Kent. There are at least seven distinct styles in the neighborhood exemplifying the prolonged period of building and the personal tastes of the builders. The diversity of architecture stands in stark contrast to housing styles since then.
On Saturday, August 8, from 10 AM to 4 PM, visitors may take a walking tour of the neighborhood where mayors, businesses people, or past presidents of the Greater Kent Historical Society have resided. Each home will have an information board featuring photos of the home as well as information about the families that once resided there. The Kent Historical Museum (located at Bereiter House, 855 E Smith Street in Kent) will serve as the starting point for the tours and interested participants can pick up a map of the homes that are highlighted. Concurrently, the museum will host an ice cream social during the tour, and there will be a reception following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. All are welcome!