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.Â HeÂ married Olive Avenell in Nov., 1911, and fathered three children: John Henry Western (1912-1978), Donald Hovel Western (1916-1993), and William Avenell WesternÂ (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 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:
[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/CityofBurien/videos/10155506250408296/” width=”500″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”1″]
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
- Cyndi Upthegrove
- Nancy Salguero McKay
- Maiya Andrews
- Emily Inlow-Hood
- Karen Portzer
- Janis Landon
- Jean McCain
- Katherine Williams
- Highline Historical Society