We finally found out who Burien’s ‘Peter Western Bridge’ was named after…


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After we posted numerous stories about the closing and demolition of Burien’s Peter Western Bridge, we received a few inquiries asking things like “who the heck was Peter Western?” – so we contacted our friends at the Highline Historical Society, and they did some digging.

The Peter Western Bridge (located in the 2200 block of S. 116th Street) was opened in 1950, and underwent a seismic retrofit in 1996. In Feb., 2017 it was closed due to severe erosion to its structural integrity from stormwater runoff in the ravine below it. It was knocked down on May 19, 2017, and is currently in a two-year process of being rebuilt.

The bridge’s namesake – Peter H. Western (pictured above) – was born in Kent, WA on March 11, 1883, and passed away just a week shy of his 71st birthday on March 4, 1954.

“Peter Western was from a pioneer family who settled in the Duwamish Valley where Peter was born in 1883,” Researcher Karen Portzer said (via Maiya Andrews and Emily Inlow-Hood at the City of Burien). “He died in 1954.”

Western was a farmer, and he also owned a battery repair store in Boulevard Heights. He married Olive Avenell in Nov., 1911, and fathered three children: John Henry Western (1912-1978), Donald Hovel Western (1916-1993), and William Avenell Western (1918-1988).

Western resided at 11837 25th Ave S., and his son Donald appears to have lived at 2400 S. 118th, which is near the bridge.

There is no known record of why the bridge was named after him, and we can only speculate – perhaps the land where the bridge was built was donated by him to the county? Or he was a local hero whose story got lost? Since it was built in 1950 and he didn’t pass away until 1954, it’s hard to know for sure – so if you have any more info, please share in the Comments below!

Here are some relevant photos and documents with more info:

Photo of what would be re-built and re-named the Peter Western Bridge, circa 1932.

So there you have it – long-lost info on the mysterious Peter Western, who like a rebuilt bridge (or a recharged battery), will rise again in B-Town!

And just because we think it’s interesting, here are two videos of the bridge being knocked down on May 19:



SPECIAL THANKS:

  • Cyndi Upthegrove
  • Nancy Salguero McKay
  • Maiya Andrews
  • Emily Inlow-Hood
  • Karen Portzer
  • Janis Landon
  • Jean McCain
  • Katherine Williams
  • Highline Historical Society

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Comments

12 Responses to “We finally found out who Burien’s ‘Peter Western Bridge’ was named after…”
  1. BR says:

    Sure hope the new bridge will retain his name!

  2. tripC says:

    Perhaps it would be nice to honor a more recent (and known) local figure with their name on the bridge?

    • Question Authority says:

      I vote for it being named after Lauren Bezerkoitz in recognition of her outstanding service representing Burien. My next comedy show starts at 11pm for more hilarious jokes.

      • Real Burien says:

        QA, is it really necessary to make every single post about Lauren Berkowitz? It’s really creepy how obsessed you appear to be. I’m starting to understand why she doesn’t want to be seen in public.

        • Question Authority says:

          Actually my opinions openly represent a overwhelming majority of Burien residents who feel the same way about her lack of contributions to the city, I just say it here.

        • Question Authority says:

          Also her reclusive behavior is based on her need to tweet and post freely from home during Council meetings. It’s nothing more than her personal grandstanding for her own Leftist ideals. She chose her own path and surely none of us have anything to do with it.

          • Clean it up! says:

            Have to say QA , as a Democrat , I totally agree with you. Lauren B has shown no respect for her constituency. NONE. She also shows no respect for her fellow council members. NONE.
            In my opinion, she’s not so much ‘a leftist’ as a leftist want-a-be. She’s mostly wasting our time, as well as her own. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who has conned us at every step of her involvement with the Burien council.
            I say this as someone who believes strongly that we must see each other as individuals. As someone who cares deeply about our homeless men, women and children, and our young people dealing with gangs and bullying, and the elderly struggling to stay afloat with an ever increasing cost of living while feeling a loss of safety and security. I care for people of all heritages wondering if they will become a target of hate. I am someone who loves Burien and sees many ways it could be prospering right NOW and instead is caught-up in trivial issues, back biting and lack of leadership. We need council people who will work with us and bring thoughtful leadership, not pranks and tweets.

          • Captain obvious says:

            This takes me back to a time when a person by the name of William Forest had a issue with Gordon Shaw’s new Zealand trips. How William Forest also had issue’s with Shaw wanting annexation of white center.

            Then we found out who William Forest really is a fake name made by a troll on this blog. Trying to sway votes and get there way.

            http://b-townblog.com/2011/10/26/gordon-shaw-says-time-away-from-council-meetings-has-no-impact-on-job/

  3. Paul Donnelly says:

    Donald Western is my dads stepfather.

    In march of 1873 Henry Western (Peters father) homesteaded hundreds of acres in the Duwamish Valley including portions of the Duwamish River. They lived on the portion that is now most of Southern Heights. What is now 116th used to be called Peter Western Rd. as it ran through the middle of his property. While people have long since forgotten that, you will find it in the legal property descriptions for houses in the area.

    I have never taken the time to verify the story but supposedly he owned the property that later the Heath shipyard would build the infamous Red Barn.

  4. NativeNancy says:

    How will that demolition debris get removed from the ravine?

  5. Wayne Roberts says:

    Mostly by the same union guys that broke it in the first place.

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