Best-selling Kirkland History Author Signing at Parkplace Books, Dec. 9

The best-selling Kirkland history book, A Look to the Past: Kirkland, by Kirkland-native frequent contributor Matthew W. McCauley, 47, was released this week in its second edition. 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 9th 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the Parkplace Books Ninth Annual Holiday Celebration.

In the second edition, McCauley has added a new chapter based on the 1882 Clark Family Tragedy, from an article which first appeared in his June 11, 2011 ‘A Look to the Past: Kirkland’ column .

The second edition also contains an index, a task undertaken by McCauley’s collaborator Amy Seto Musser, also of Kirkland. Musser has a BFA in Theatre/Stage Management from Millikin University, in Decatur, Illinois and works for both the King County Library Redmond Branch and the Kirkland Performance Center while pursuing her MLS (Masters in Library Science) with Texas Women's University. Musser expended countless hours going through the book, both compiling the index and noting other areas that needed attention. Her enthusiasm for the Kirkland community, for this project and for her keen attention to detail proved an unbeatable combination.

Book description:

Fifty one 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.

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, 13, and Jake, 15. Many members of his extended family remain in the Juanita and Finn Hill communities.

For more information contact Matt McCauley at 425-941-6145 or email at listing info: