Ever since moving to Vashon Island we have been obsessed with learning about this place’s history and culture. In particular, the history of Wingehaven Park…home to what Matt calls our “sunrise beach”. It is a beautiful waterfront park that is a 20 minute walk from our house. Facing East with a dramatic view of Mt. Rainer it is the perfect place to watch a spectacular Pacific Northwest sunrise.
Wingehaven was not always a park. There are old abandoned cement pools and remnants of fountains…and a cool balustrade overlooking the water. Clearly whatever used to be here was epic and glamorous, but we could not find anything on it’s history.
As luck would have it we made friends with Mr. Vashon History himself, a sweet old guy named Mike. He is 3rd generation Vashonian and his grandparents owned the local paper way back in the day. He is constantly bombarding facebook with posts of old scanned articles with interesting island tid-bits, and so we mentioned our interest in Wingehaven. He investigated and found a ton of cool stuff that he posted this week:
April 9, 1931 (Vashon Island News-Record)
Island Concerned Publishes Catalog – An industry, much out of the ordinary, is being developed on the North End of the Island at the Twickenham Estate. It is the commercial rearing of gold fish, the outgrowth of a beginning made four years ago in the lily ponds developed by Mr. E.H. Moy for his own pleasure. His success along these lines caused his friends to urge him to go into raising gold fish on a larger scale, and now the plant that has been developed consists of twenty-five ponds, varying in size from 500 gallon concrete ponds to natural pools of about two acres, also concrete pools under glass, aquariums and other up-to-date equipment for handling gold fish and supplies. Recently a catalog was published which is supposedly the only exclusive gold fish catalog ever published. It not only contains lists and prices of the many varieties of fish for sale, but it contains also many illustrations, both in color and in black and white, as well as information concerning water plants, aquariums, ornaments and supplies which the Twickenham Estate Water Gardens offer for sale. Twickenham Estate, since becoming the property of Mr. Moy has been developed until it is one of the beauty spots of the Island. Since coming to the Island he has made an investment of about $100,000 in his various branches which embrace fox pens, pigeon lofts, fish ponds, etc., on a large scale, as well as a well equipped printing plant which takes care of the large business of the Reliance Printing Company.
November 3, 1932 • Receives Mammoth Goldfish Shipment – On Tuesday, of this week, the largest shipment of goldfish ever to arrive on the Pacific Coast was received from Japan by E.J. Moy, of the Twickenham Estate Water Gardens at Vashon Heights. It required five trucks to haul the 1,653 tubs of fish to the Island. It is estimated that there were at least a million fish in the shipment, ranging is size from 1-2 inch to 18 inches in length, and in value from a few cents to 10 or 15 dollars each in value. Twickenham Estate Water Gardens has grown from an experiment started by Mr. Moy about four years ago. From a few private pools his plant has grown until it is the largest of its kind within several thousand miles. It now consists of more than forty pools and ponds and 100 large storage tanks. Mr. Moy has an office in Kobe, and a representative who buys from the largest hatcheries in Japan.
So cool! We as if this were not interesting enough, Mike passed along a detailed history report that someone wrote on the estate that detailed more about it and the island community it operated in. More coolness! I was curious about this statement:
One of the neighbors at Dolphin Point was the author, Betty MacDonald, who wrote The Egg and I, which was made into a popular movie and translated into more than a dozen languages. Another of her popular books, Onions in the Stew, was written about life on Vashon while she was living at Dolphin Point in the 1940‘s.
Curious about this book (because I of course immediately wanted to buy a copy and read it) I looked it up on Amazon. Guess who Betty MacDonald was? The author of some of my most beloved children’s books: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle! And those were written while she lived on Vashon!
I was elated. Glowing. Dancing around the house. This small fact, and uncovering the story of Wingehaven made my day. We are so in love with our island home.
And yes, I ordered a copy of Onions in the Stew, The Egg and I and the DVD of the film. Reviews to come.