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Prohibition and a new school come to Redmond (1921-1930)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

On January 17, 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution went into effect that out-lawed the sale, manufacture and distribution of alcohol throughout the United States. It was a “Noble Experiment” that began as a Christian movement to bring morality and civility to American life. The Prohibitionists argued that alcohol led to all sorts of vice and violence, and that every penny spent on liquor was a waste. While Prohibition began with the loftiest of ideals, it soon became apparent to all that enforcing the ban would be next to impossible. With thousands of miles of quiet coastline, and lack-luster enthusiasm from law enforcement, hundreds of thousands of gallons of alcohol quietly slipped in along America’s border with Canada. Even Redmond had its share of Speakeasy’s, the slang term for the underground bars that quickly popped up everywhere to satisfy Americas thirst. The Bill Brown Building, now the Matador, once housed a speakeasy. The respectable undertaker’s business out front, masked the saloon inside, and patrons came to get a drink.

In order to combat public drunkenness in and around Redmond, the county established a “Lazy Husbands Ranch” to dry out ne’er do-wells. The farm started in 1918, to address a 1913 law against “Lazy Husbands,” men who left their families, as well as men who had committed non-violent crimes. The county purchased the 400 acre off Willow Road, for rehabilitating drunk drivers and habitual drunks, rum runners and men who had deserted their families or beat their wives, and those who “refused to work.” The men worked by day in the fields growing their own food, and selling the surplus to help the poor. The farm became notorious when it was discovered that the residents had several stills in the woods, and in 1924, the county came in and busted up the stills they could find, which put a temporary end to the moonshine, but the stills were back within a short time. The farm closed in 1932 at the end of Prohibition, and because of its’ failure to rehabilitate any of the residents.

One success of the town was that its’ population was beginning to grow, and more kids were coming to school. There was a school in what is now Anderson Park, but it was too small for the number of kids in town, and in 1922, the town began building a new brick schoolhouse-what is now the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center. The school housed all grades. The large brick building was the largest in town, and clearly the pride of the little community. In 1925, the school at Anderson Park burned down, so this was the only school in town, and kids came from all over to attend. This remained the only school until Redmond merged with Kirkland to create the Lake Washington School district, and a new high school was built in 1940’s to house the expanding number of students in the Kirkland-Redmond area. Each year students proudly gathered on the front steps for their class pictures, and many residents today still proudly remember going to school here in this building. It remained open until 1997, when the school district closed it, and the City of Redmond leased it as a community center. It reopened in 2000 as a community center, and still has lots of activities going on six days a week.

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