History of Clyde Hill

September 29, 1882, Patrick Downey, an Irish immigrant, homesteaded a 160-acre tract of land on the southern slope of Clyde Hill. He was the first known settler in present-day Clyde Hill. Downey's tract was bounded by NE 8th Street on the south, 92nd Avenue NE on the west, NE 16th Street on the north, and 100th Avenue NE on the east. It included the Bellevue residential area now known as Vuecrest. Downey built a log cabin at 100th Avenue NE and NE 12th Street with the help of neighbors. Pat Downey reportedly lived in this cabin for two years before he discovered Meydenbauer Bay. From his cabin he hiked to Houghton (now south Kirkland), and rowed to Seattle when he wanted to go to the city. He remodeled and rebuilt several times and eventually the entire house was destroyed by fire in 1911.

In September 1888, Downey filed his final affidavit for a homestead claim, (SE of Section 30 in Township 25 N of Range 5 E), and described the property as timbered agricultural land. Timber was described as fir and cedar 2nd class. He said that in the process of clearing land, he cut, removed, and sold 296,000 board feet from 20 acres to a Terence O'Brien of Seattle.

By 1888, Downey had built an 18' X 27' log house one story high with shake roof. The house included four rooms and was valued at $300.00. In addition to the house, the Downey estate included a 16' X 22' shake barn, a 10' X 12' shake stable, a 8' X 10' shake hen house and a 8' X 10' shake storehouse. These additional buildings were valued at a combined $185. During this time Downey raised crops on about 11 acres of land for five seasons, including potatoes, oats, wheat and vegetables.

14th street 1961

In 1888, Patrick Downey in his homestead claim cited Peter Buckley, John McRae, John Davis of Bellevue, Washington Territory and W. W. Easter of Seattle, Washington Territory as references for his claim. McRae, 49 years old, lived on nearby property. Peter Buckley, 42 years old, lived about 1/2 mile away and also gave testimony supporting Downey's homestead claim. Also living near Downey were W. E. Conway and Isaac Bechtel.

Downey eventually planted 15 acres of his claim in strawberries. These strawberries brought a premium from wholesalers on Western Avenue in Seattle. A number of farmers in Clyde Hill raised strawberries and the community was well known for that product. Downey would pack a load of strawberries in a wheelbarrow to the foot of Clyde Road (now 92nd Avenue NE) and board a little wood-burning steamer to Leschi in Seattle. There he could take a cable car over the Seattle hills from Leschi to Elliott Bay.

By 1890, about 20 families settled in the Clyde Hill, Medina and the downtown Bellevue area. In June 1900, the Federal Census of Bellevue Precinct, King County, Washington, encompassing about the same area, enumerated a total of 254 persons.

In June 1894, Patrick and wife, Victoria M. Downey, subdivided the north eighty acres of their original claim (from about NE 12th Street to NE 16th Street), most of which lay in present-day Clyde Hill. His plat, of which most of it is still known today, was entitled "Lake Washington Garden Tracts." Most of the subdivision was platted as 5-acre lots. Streets shown in the plat include Hunter Avenue (present 92nd Avenue NE), Bellevue Avenue (Present 100th Avenue NE) and Downey Street (NE 14th Street).

In 1905, early landowners within the present limits of Clyde Hill included:

Jacob Furth,
George B. Shorey,
A. Stewart,
James Wren,
Mr. Mercer,
G. W. R. Pettibone,
D. T. Richards,
G. M. Talmage,
J. H. McDowell,
Soren Sorenson,
William Tukey,
H. M. Leonard,
J. M. Frink,
M. K. Cradelle,
Susan A. Wells,
George A. Emory, and
Patrick Downey.

Special thanks to Dan Bray for his historical information