City of Maple Valley

History of the Lake Wilderness Lodge

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Lake Wilderness Lodge HistoryKing County purchased the historical site of Lake Wilderness Park in 1966. Before joining the King County Park System, the site had been used for a variety of purposes dating back to the 19th century. In the 1890's, one of the largest logging mills in King County was located on the site. In the early 1900's, the Jacobsen family purchased what was then a homestead farm and opened it to hunters and anglers. The farm evolved into two and then three separate resorts in the 1920's. An expanded Gaffney's Grove resort opened in 1939, capable of accommodating 9,000 visitors daily. This premier lake resort featured baseball fields, tennis courts, dance pavilions, a skating rink, and two swimming beaches with slides, trapezes, and diving towers.

The award winning Lake Wilderness Lodge was constructed in the early 1950's, The land was later consolidated under a single ownership and by the 1950's, Gaffney's Resort was an active year-round vacation destination that included boat and swim facilities, airstrip, ballroom, rental accommodations and restaurant. The main Lodge was designed by Seattle architectural firm Young & Richardson & Carlston & Detlie known most recently as, TRA. In 1952, the building received the highly prestigious American Institute of Architecture and Washington State Design Awards. In 1997 it was designated a King County landmark, cited as an excellent example of "post-war, Northwest architecture".

A thirty-three foot tall totem pole, surrounded by a spiral staircase, stretches up to the ceiling is the central feature of this three story, spacious, window-lined lodge. A story in The Renton Chronicle, dated March 1950, shows a photo of the pole being erected. The caption reads, "Thirty-five feet high, and weighing approximately 10 tons, a spectacular Totem pole was erected last Wednesday at Gaffney's Lake Wilderness resort. The resort is currently undergoing a $300,000 expansion program. The pole will serve as a structural column supporting the hotel roof."

The Lodge has been remodeled to expand its use, making the facility more efficient, and adding accessibility options to make it ADA compliant. The building was renamed while a part of King County's operation to the Lake Wilderness Center to reflect the varied use of the building, which included a local service center as well as a rental facility. Renamed in 2003 to the Lake Wilderness Lodge, this new name reflects the current use of a world-class rental facility.

The view has changed over the years and the main Lodge no longer has the once-spectacular view of the Mount Rainier due to the growth of trees, however, it does offer an amazing view of the Lake and a peek-a-boo view of Mount Rainier during the winter. The Conference Center still enjoys an unobstructed view of the mountain (weather permitting).