Residents are invited to celebrate Kirkland’s past, present and future at a celebratory event from 6-9 p.m. on July 12 at Fire Station 22. It will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the merger between Houghton and Kirkland, which occurred on Aug. 1, 1968.
Lisa McConnell of the Central Houghton Neighborhood Association said the event will provide an opportunity to learn local history and meet neighbors, old and new. Organizers are soliciting photos of Houghton and Kirkland history, especially from 1965-1970, to create a “now and then” display.
“The main focus is to get people together and share photos and memories of 1968, when we came together,” she said.
McConnell has already collected a few images of historical Houghton. Many remember the old Seahawks training facility at Carillon Point, the drive-in movie theater and the sporting goods store, to name a few.
There will be a scanner at the party to copy and archive photos brought by community members. There will be also cake, of course, along with games, snow cones and a possible walking tour.
A display by the Bank of America in Houghton Center details the history of the merger and annexation, with images and articles from the East Side Journal.
A transition ceremony was held at the Kirkland Fire Station on July 31, 1968, when the new city council took office and the first Houghton Community Council (HCC) was seated. The consolidation had been approved by voters months before, on April 30.
According to the newspaper, many jokes were exchanged between city and community council members that night, and “just the right amount of levity was injected into the historical meeting to set a pleasant tone which bids well for the new city.” Though the two communities had their differences, consolidation gave them a chance to “finally shake hands and make up.”
In 1967, a change in state law allowed for the smaller of two merging cities to form its own community council. A key aspect of the merger was that the HCC would have veto power over land-use regulations within the boundaries of the former city of Houghton.
“The result has been that civic history is being written here tonight to implement the decision of the voters of the two communities to become one dynamic city,” according to the East Side Journal.
Several local leaders started their political careers on the HCC, including state Rep. Joan McBride. McBride will be at the July celebration, along with Mayor Amy Walen and other elected officials, McConnell said.
The event is also a chance for Houghton neighbors to reconnect with the city following the contentious Houghton Everest Neighborhood Center debate, McConnell said. Ultimately, the process resulted in a good compromise on zoning, building height and housing diversity and density, she said, though there were some bumps along the way.
“We’re going to remember why we’re here, why we’re part of Kirkland,” she said.
While looking at the issues facing Kirkland in 1968 — including traffic, parking and housing — McConnell noticed that “it’s not old history, but history repeating itself,” though the city has grown dramatically since then.
“It’s the same problems, but on a different scale,” she said.
See www.houghtonlives.com for more.