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A raceway, Navy base depot and airport

Come and learn more about the history of Lakewood Industrial Park

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Reusing and not abusing space is not anything new in business, but there is one specific industrial area in the city of Lakewood, which currently employs more than 1,500 people in the same buildings that were used by the U.S. Navy back in World War II. 

Through the decades, Lakewood Industrial Park has been an ever-changing staple in Pierce County's history, the state of Washington and even the entire country. 

Lakewood Industrial Park's history includes a role as a WWII supply depot. 

"In 1944 during World War II when the war ended in Europe and switched to the Pacific, the 320-acre site began operating as the Naval Advance Base Depot until 1958," said Lakewood Historical Society past president Becky Huber.  "Miles and miles of track were laid to move equipment and building materials that would supply the Navy at its planted bases on islands in the Pacific theater." 

During the Lakewood Industrial Park Free Public Program, Tuesday, May 22, the Lakewood Industrial Park general property & asset manager Tim Puryear will present a slide show of photos taken of the build-out of the Naval Base Depot in 1944.

With more than 100 years of history and still going strong, Lakewood Industrial Park includes numerous impactful makeovers throughout the decades: (bullets provided by the Lakewood Historical Society)

  • The area was originally prairie until the Tacoma Speedway, a two-mile oval track, was built on the northeast corner along Steilacoom Blvd. and Lakeview Dr., operated from 1912-1922. Over 30,000 people would descend upon the area during the week surrounding the July 4 holiday.
  • Rudy Mueller and Leo Harkins, owners of a Buick dealership in Tacoma, who opened an airfield in 1922 for private planes, then purchased the land. Airmail service then began back in 1926. It became a municipal airfield in 1928 with a 9,500-foot-long runway on the 164-acre site. Many men and women learned to fly or took sightseeing tours of the area. The M-H Hangar was built in 1929 and remains as the residential building construction classroom for Clover Park Technical College (CPTC). 
  • Buildings on the northern section of the property began being used by the Clover Park School District starting in 1951, then also began being used for aviation in 1954, and became part of the district in 1958. The college (then known as Clover Park Vocational Institute) separated from the school district in 1991. Now home to CPTC.
  • The warehouse areas, comprising of seven original buildings from the Naval Depot, became the Lakewood Industrial Park in 1966.
  • The Industrial Park now comprises 27 buildings with over 2.4 million square feet and 63 tenants on 160 acres. 

"It is very important that a community member take every opportunity to learn the history of their city," said Huber. "Not only do you obtain interesting insights, it makes you appreciate and gain perspective of where we have been and where we are going in our future."

As Pierce County's fourth largest for-profit employer, with more than 1,500 people and 63 companies currently occupying the Lakewood Industrial Park, the Lakewood Historical Society along with Puryear are asking the general public to come and learn more about the past, present and future of one of Washington State's most historic piece of land. 

The Lakewood Industrial Park Free Public Program, 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 22, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 10630 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW

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