Born in England near the Scottish border in 1840, Peter Kirk began to exhibit early business insight by running the family iron business. When the process for manufacturing steel was discovered in 1856, Kirk responded by founding Kirk Bros. and Co. By 1865, Peter was successful enough to build his England estate, Bankfield. In 1884, he patented the first iron (instead of wood) tie for train tracks, known as a “sleeper” and immediately shipped 160,000 of these to Bombay, India.
In 1886, prompted by reports of iron deposits in the Snoqualmie Mountains, Kirk came to Seattle to establish the Great Western Iron & Steel Company. Lime is an essential component in the production of steel, and at the time, most productive lime kilns were located on San Juan Island. Consequently, Peter Kirk’s love affair began with the island. After sending for his wife and eight children, the Kirk’s set up housekeeping at their mansion, Fir Grove, in Kirkland (just east of Seattle). Kirkland, Washington is named after Peter Kirk. They later moved to the islands full-time.
Kirk first built a 500 acre hunting estate called Deer Lodge at the north end of the island. Following the tragic deaths of his daughter and then his beloved wife, Kirk could no longer remain in such a large home. In 1914, he purchased a small, elegant home just outside the growing town of Friday Harbor. It was there, in this peaceful setting, that Kirk spent what he says were the best years of his successful life.
History of the Kirk House
The house was bought in 1992 with the intent of maintaining it as a single family home. Upon consultation with local architect, David Waldron, it was decided that the renovations required to accommodate a family with small children would seriously compromise the historical and architectural integrity of the house. Therefore, it was decided to make the house a bed and breakfast.
The original floor plan was adapted to meet the needs of guests with minimal interruption to the flow pattern. The original kitchen and dining room were converted into deluxe guest rooms. Existing bedrooms had private baths added and Kirk’s office, once a screened porch, became the kitchen.
Every effort was made to retain or incorporate original materials and details into the woodwork, leaded art glass, and fireplaces in the parlor and the Veranda Room (formerly the dining room).
The exterior of the house has seen few revisions. Sitting on two-thirds of an acre, the house was joined by a garage. What was originally a stable or tack room was remodeled to serve as the owner’s residence. The shingles and woodwork were originally brown as depicted in a 1920 photo of the house. Currently, the house colors are two shades of historical green with cream trim and woodwork. The roof-line has a definite Indian Raj influence. A veranda wraps three sides of the house and support pillars with the recurring Indian Raj lines. The foundation of the house is island-quarried granite.