Island Road History | McDonald AvenueFebruary 4th, 2013 by Tad Sooter
Street of the Week: McDonald Avenue
Location: Runs north/south between Eagle Harbor Drive and Old Mill Road
History: Old McDonald had a farm, yes, but on Bainbridge Island he also owned two hotels and a popular community pavilion.
In the early twentieth century, Malcom “Mack” McDonald was one of the largest landowners in all of Kitsap County. As owner of the Port Blakely Hotel and Pleasant Beach Hotel, McDonald was a well-known leader in the island’s community.
McDonald’s Pleasant Beach Hotel featured more than 20 rooms, a bowling alley, a saloon, a swimming pool and a bathhouse.
The posh hotel was, as the name may suggest, adjacent to a rather pleasant beach. The hotel’s large pavilion and picnic grounds covered 30 acres, an expansive property which drew huge crowds throughout the year and particularly during sunny summer months.
Pleasant Beach’s beautiful location, delicious food and wide variety of fun activities contributed to its widespread reputation as the Coney Island of the Puget Sound.
Locals and tourists alike would arrive by boat at the hotel’s lengthy deck. Many traveled across the Sound to see the famed hotel and equally well-known grounds.
Visitors frequently shipped in from Seattle, Port Orchard and even as far south as Tacoma. Crowds of more than 2,000 were known to swing by during the course of a single day.
The Pleasant Beach Hotel’s pavilion was also popular among locals, and it became famous for hosting prize fights. One story about a world championship fight shares the adventure of several ambitious but shortsighted sailors who climbed to the very top of the pavilion. Hoping for a bird’s eye view of the excitement below, they tore shingles off the roof—and promptly fell into the crowd below.
McDonald’s personal home was nearly as impressive as his hotel holdings. The family ranch in Eagledale featured a large house, several barns and many acres under cultivation.
There was even room to spare. In the early 1900s, McDonald
donated part of the land for the amptly named McDonald School. It
was located on the corner of what are now McDonald Avenue and Eagle
The McDonald School was built in 1905 and enlarged a decade later. Generations of children from all over Bainbridge Island received an education at the school until it eventually closed in 1940.
Source: “Bifocals,” Elsie Frankland Marriot, Gateway Printing Col., Seattle, 1941.
This occasional Islander series explores the history of island street names, as compiled by Elinor Ringland and fellow Bainbridge Island Historical Society volunteers. If you have an island road story to share, email Ringland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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