The Depression Era was a time where cooperation was necessary to get by, where community became something more than a place. The Kirkland Cannery exemplifies one of our region’s cooperative efforts to build community and to place food on the table of those in need.
In 1935, construction of the Kirkland Cannery, then known as the King County Food Processing Plant, began under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Completed by the fall of 1936, the building served as a home for cooperation. Families enduring economic hardship, often times surviving on less then $100 per month, could bring in home grown fruits and vegetables to be canned. In return for the canning services, families would contribute one-third of their canned goods to support state and county institutions. During the season of 1938, the cannery produced 400,000 cans of food for more than 10,000 families.
Cannery production began to slow as Kirkland’s economy recovered and more people went back to work. In 1946, Washington State sold the cannery to the City of Kirkland. By June of 1947, it became privately operated by the Pound and Maddox families. In 1950, Charles and Helen Maddox sold their portion to the Pounds, who still own the cannery building (the Pounds rented the building space until 1974 when they purchased it).
Now working under the name Kirkland Custom Cannery, fruit and vegetable canning continued from 1947 to 1964. In 1964, the Pound Family began to can salmon that sports fisherman brought in. The salmon canning business became so successful that in 1967 the cannery began to exclusively can commercial seafood under their Thunderbird Brand. This business thrived, and many area residents remember coming to the cannery to buy seafood products for family holiday gifts. In 2001 Thad Pound, son of the prior owners Harvey and Ruth Pound, sold the canning operations and retired. The Pounds have maintained the building ever since.
On June 1, 2006 the Kirkland Cultural Council and the Pound family held an open house at the cannery to explore new uses for the historically rich building. The focus of the event included how the building could again serve its community.