The Harper Brick and Tile Factory pictured above was a huge boon to industry in the local area. Below, is a tired but historical building once used as a “hotel and boarding house” for local workers, mostly those who worked in the factory. In later years it served as a brush plant, where decorative trees and flowers were processed and packaged for florists. Photos provided by AK Kuppler.
Allen “AK” Kuppler, whose family has visited and lived in the Harper area virtually all of his life, brought us a wealth of new documents relating to the Port Orchard Brick and Tile Factory and drawbridge that once existed along the shoreline between South Colby and Southworth. He has even found what he believes are the original central pulleys for the drawbridge mechanism.
We will add more details to all of this later, but for the time being we will share just a few of the dramatic historical documents he has provided.
Above are photos of the work crews about 1920 and 1935-ish.
AK (who has a gift for artistic expression) has given us this enhanced view of the current landscape around his house and the nearby estuary, including Harper Hill Road, Southworth Road, the Boat Ramp, and the surrounding neighborhood at the point. The main current road is along the bottom of the photograph, with dotted lines showing the location of the drawbridge. The Port Orchard Tile and Brick Factory was located in the lower righthand corner, where a baseball field is located today.
The second rendering (below) shows the region as it would have appeared about 1930, showing both the bridge and the roadway. Note the apparently active road along the beachfront, left, and the more extensive salt and freshwater marshes. Originally, AK reports, the only north-south route was across the drawbridge, as the road south from Colby was dedicated to the Brick Factory, lower right. A “hotel and boarding house” was also located along the present Southworth Road, at the bottom of this picture. Also, AK has noted the location of portions of a barge that has been found near the northern entrance to the drawbridge structure.
These renderings were provided and created by Allen Kuppler, using local historical sources and his own surveys of the Harper Bridge site adjacent to the property on which he currently resides.
I was wondering more about the history of where the brick factory used to be located….When was the brick factory built, when was it removed from the parcel, when did Kitsap County Parks take it over?
Can anyone help or tell me where to find that information?
I like this website, my family grew up in Home, Washingtion out in Key Peninsula – from all the pictures it looks very similar to Harper community back in the day. Its nice being able to view all the old photos.
Thanks so much for giving us what use to be in photos and prose, We bought near where Harper Pier started its long reach over Puget Sound. Just having the 1919 Harper pier in our view I figured added 20K to our property. Please forgive me for putting in monetary value to that view.
So many people that care have contributed old photos and stories. Those same people, along with thousands of others, have worked to get a new pier to mark this historic spot of many memories.
I watched it happen and in no time, Harper Pier became a pile of old pilings and boards. Now there is just the changing tides of the Puget Sound, Strangers who have been away ask, “Where’s the pier?”
My great great grandfather, Frederick Crane Harper, was one of the establishing partners in the Harper Brick Factory and it’s namesake. My family and I truly appreciate all of the information and pictures that you have gathered here. My uncle was named after Frederick and my father’s middle name is Harper. Both were raised and still live and work in the area.
In the pictures of the workmen, one name is listed as “? Christianson”
I’m pretty certain that the image is of my grandfather Halfdan Christensen who worked there many years, according to family legend. His daughter Vivian purchased a home in Harper in the late 1930’s 100 feet or so south of the Harper Dock. As a boy, I spent many days exploring the area and imagining the commerce and busyness of the brickmaking efforts.
I am curious as to where all these bricks went and which buildings were built with them. Did they supply all the bricks for Tacoma and Seattle buildings that were build during its time?
Also you can sign up to follow the Harper Estuary restoration on the Kitsap County Home page, blue tab. Harper Estuary Restoration.