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Brief History of Redmond

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HistoryLink.org Essay 304
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Redmond, Washington, is known worldwide as a center for high technology. The town's fame has come about only in recent times. For more than a century, Redmond was seen as just another small settlement that grew into suburbia.
McRedmond and Perrigo Arrive

The first settlers in the Redmond area were Luke McRedmond (1820?-1898) and Warren Perrigo (1836-?). Arriving in the area in 1871, McRedmond took up a claim along the Sammamish River, while Perrigo took up land just east of him.

In 1850, McRedmond left Ireland during the potato famine, and immigrated to the United States. He traveled across the country, and settled at Port Madison in Kitsap County. There, he took up service as county commissioner and sheriff. Perrigo, a Civil War veteran, and his wife Laura, had traveled around Cape Horn from New England in 1866 and, like McRedmond, also settled in Kitsap County.

Both men had wanted to homestead. After visiting areas east of Seattle, they decided to file claims in the Sammamish Valley where the soil was rich and the waters bountiful. Immediately after filing claims they started to clear their land.

From Salmonburg to Melrose to Redmond

Realizing that many travelers and hunters would be soon be passing through the region, the Perrigos built a house that could also be used as an inn. They named it Melrose House after Perrigo's hometown in Massachusetts, and many early pioneers stayed there while scouting out claims. Perrigo also blazed many early trails and roads, creating a network among the other fledgling communities in the region, with his inn at the center. It is no surprise that he also became the foremost trader in the region.

Meanwhile, Luke McRedmond had started creating a village. Originally named Salmonburg after the abundance of dog salmon in the rivers and streams, it was later changed to Melrose due to the popularity of Melrose House. When McRedmond became postmaster in 1882, he officially changed the name to Redmond. This caused bitterness between the Perrigo and McRedmond families for years to come.

A Small Town Prospers

For the other pioneers, the name mattered little. They had come to make a living, and that they did. The foothills of the Cascade Mountains were to the east, which provided jobs for loggers. To the south, Lake Sammamish was perfect for fishermen and hunters. The bustling town of Kirkland to the west had easy ferry service to Seattle for those wishing to buy and sell their goods. Rail service came to Redmond in 1889, when the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad was built through town.

Redmond began to prosper. The first school was built in 1897. Lumber mills and shingle mills dotted the countryside. Warren Perrigo became a leader in the fight for good roads. As the century turned, the population of Redmond was 271, and the town was home to both laborers and merchants.

Clise Eyes Redmond

Around this time, prominent Seattle banker and businessman, James Clise visited the area and liked what he saw. In 1904, he bought 78 acres of land south of town and built an elegant summer home for his family. The Clises liked visiting it so much, they moved out of their mansion in Seattle to their new home, which they called Willowmoor.

They expanded the lodge into a 28-room Tudor mansion and Clise turned the surrounding land into a profitable farm. Later, his wife, Anna, would become instrumental in the foundation of Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle. Many benefits were held at Willowmoor for the well to do to get away from it all and to donate money to a worthy cause. Years later, the mansion became home of the Marymoor Museum of Eastside History, but in 2003 the King County Department of Parks and Recreation took it over for use as an event facility.

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