Matt McCauley, author of "A Look to the Past: Kirkland" book signing at Park Place Books Dec. 10

A Look to the Past: Kirkland, by Kirkland-native Matthew W. McCauley, 46, was released this week as a joint effort by the Kirkland Heritage Society (KHS) and McCauley, a KHS director. It is the first major work since 1975 to look at Kirkland's origins and early years and is now available for 24.95 at Parkplace Books, 348 Parkplace Center. Along with other Northwest authors, McCauley will also be signing books on Friday, Dec 10th 7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Parkplace Books Eighth Annual Holiday Celebration.

Book description:

Fifty of the best of Matt McCauley's "A Look to the Past: Kirkland" newspaper columns, edited to present new information and many photos from the prized collection of the Kirkland Heritage Society.

In 1870 two teenage boys claim homesteads on Juanita Bay, and to pay for improvements on their homesteads, struggle for the rest of their short lives logging timber on Lake Washington’s eastern shore. In 1872 a couple and their 22-year-old son stake claims at Houghton, carving homes out of dark, dense, first-growth timber. Other pioneers arrive and claim homesteads on the eastern shore. In 1887 a flamboyant young newspaper publisher convinces an even-tempered English steel manufacturer to locate a new, world-class steel mill on a tiny lake between Houghton and Juanita, and to plat a town site on Lake Washington’s shore, which will become Kirkland. Their vision is big. They want to create nothing less than a “Pittsburgh of the Pacific,” but reality intervenes. The speculative bubble bursts and fortunes are lost, lives are broken, and in the shambles of their dreams the scrappy pioneers refuse to quit. They build their town anyway. Kirkland’s past reads like a great western novel, peopled as it is by pioneer settlers, land speculators, loggers, stump ranchers, land developers, steam boatmen, boat builders, WWII Rosie-the-riveters, finally, the suburbanites of post-WWII and beyond.

Kirkland native Matthew W. McCauley wrote a popular newspaper column, “A Look to the Past,” in the 1990s in which he tells these stories. Here are 50 of the best, updated with new research, and accompanied by many of images from the Kirkland Heritage Society’s prized collection.

"It is a pleasure having Matt McCauley’s A Look to the Past articles finally gathered together in one volume. When they were first published in the Kirkland Courier two decades ago, they were such a joy to read that I saved most of them in my clippings file. I say “most” because I now see that I missed a few, and I was delighted to read some “new” ones after all these years. What a treat!" — Alan Stein, Author of five books on Pacific Northwest History and Staff Historian,

"Matt is ... an old soul. As a young boy he seemed to show wisdom only seen in older people. Matt always loved older people and their stories. Today, Kirkland is the beneficiary of his interest in the people and history of Kirkland. Matt is a stickler for detail and accuracy. He wants people remembered and respected." — Loita Hawkinson, Kirkland Heritage Society

Author's Biography:

Matt McCauley’s family built a house on Juanita’s Little Finn Hill in 1963, the year before his birth. His parents, great aunt and uncle, grandparents, and aunt and uncle purchased several acres of land from Charles and Helma Fowler, who had resided there since the early 1930s. After clearing the land themselves, with chain saws and bulldozers, family members built, one after another, four homes, in which they lived for years. Their land was part of Juanita’s first land plat, which was filed in February, 1912 by Charles B. Harris as Harris Juanita Acres. When Matt was a young boy, Juanita was part of unincorporated King County and it still had a rural sensibility. In his early years he was surrounded by woods, undeveloped wetlands, livestock grazing in pastures, dirt roads with wheel ruts, and a scattering of neighbors, most of whom knew one another. He attended A.G. Bell Elementary from 1969 until 1976, where he played soccer and baseball. As a child the stories of old Kirkland that he heard from community elders fascinated him and inspired his searches in old barns and pastures for 'treasures'. Matt moved to Mercer Island in 1976 and graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1982. He learned to SCUBA dive in 1978, and that enabled a lifelong fascination with exploration of Lake Washington and Puget Sound, most especially vessel and aircraft wrecks, and other points of historic interest. He received considerable media attention in 1984-85 when he and high school friend, Jeff Hummel, were sued by the US Navy for salvaging a World War II naval dive bomber from the lake. The two won the suit and went on to recover four other World War II military aircraft in 1987. He returned to Kirkland in 1988 and participated in the Kirkland Heritage Society’s 1993 resurrection. He was the founding editor of its award-winning newsletter, Blackberry Preserves. That year he began publishing his popular “A Look to the Past” history columns in The Kirkland Courier. McCauley is an alumnus of both Seattle University, where he majored in journalism, and Seattle University School of Law. He lived on the east coast for 13 years, where he owned a business comprising 20 espresso cafes and a commercial coffee roasting plant. He returned to Kirkland in 2010 and lives in Juanita with his sons, Cam, 12, and Jake, 14. Many members of his extended family remain in the Juanita and Finn Hill communities. His father, writer William McCauley, edited this book. He resides in Auburn. For more information contact Matt McCauley at 425-894-6145 or email at listing info:

[box]Matt writes a column for Kirkland Views which you can find at[/box]