Purdy is a small unincorporated community north of the city of Gig Harbor, on the northern boundary of Pierce County, Washington. It is located on the shores of Burley Lagoon and Henderson Bay of the Carr Inlet. The two bodies of water are separated by a sandspit and the Purdy Bridge.
In the 1880s, the community was named for a Tacoma, Washington businessman who donated the materials to construct a schoolhouse for the community. Joseph W. Purdy was a grocer by trade. The land upon which the school was built was donated by Horace Knapp. The modern-day Peninsula High School now sits on the hill where this original schoolhouse was built.
The area was settled in the 1880s. Isaac Hawk purchased the land from the Washington Territorial Government. Horace Knapp purchased 19 acres (77,000 m2) of this land from Hawk in 1884 for the price of $23.75. These acres were made into the town of Purdy (with lots and blocks).
In 1885, Josephine Fuller, the first white woman in the area, married Horace Knapp.
A mill was built in 1885 by James Ashton, Joseph Purdy, William Rowland, and Mr. Sherman. It was located on a small inlet off of Burley Lagoon just down the hill from present day Peninsula High School. This small inlet is still referred to by locals as the "Mill Pond".
In 1886, the mill in Purdy secured the first contract to provide lumber for nearby Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. This put Purdy on the map. The U.S. Government needed huge square timbers with one edge beveled in order to build a wooden drydock at Charleston (Bremerton). "All other mills based their costs on four trips of the carriage to remove the slabs, then an extra trip to cut the bevel. A mechanic at the Purdy mill set up an extra saw to cut the bevel on the fourth trip of the carriage, thus enabling the company to outbid all competition. The big cutting contract put Purdy on the map, and it was known as a 'brawling mill town' around 1886."
The mill's success also brought conveniences to the area like a grocery store, and a post office. There was a long chute along present-day 144th Street that brought the logs down the hill to the water.
Oysters and clams have been raised in Purdy for decades.
The Washington Corrections Center for Women, originally named the Purdy Treatment Center, is colloquially referred to as "Purdy", though it has a Gig Harbor address.
- The Tacoma Times, June 11, 1948
- Peninsula Historical Society
- Peninsula Historical Society, and The Tacoma Times, March 16, 1939
- 1974-75 Students of, Goodman Middle School (1979). Along the Waterfront. Clinton Hull Publishing Co., Ltd. p. 80.
- 1974-75 Students of, Goodman Middle School (1979). Along the Waterfront. Clinton Hull Publishing Co., Ltd. p. 81.
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