Day Island: Yesterday and Today

Although not technically an island that is surrounded by water on all sides, Day Island comes close. A thin sand spit is all that connects this small community to the “mainland” of University Place. Yet in many ways, it remains a remote and charming reminder of simpler times.

The rustic cabins that dotted its shoreline when it was first settled in the late 1800s have given way to larger waterfront homes, but some things have not changed. The Day Island Reading Club, which was established in 1921 by local housewives who gathered every Monday (after the wash was hung) to discuss the newest literary hits, still meets today. The Day Island Club House remains the focal point of community activities, just as it did in the early 20th century island when residents would gather for socials, dances and even performances by the Day Island Orchestra.

Marcia Tucker grew up on Day Island and remembers an idyllic youth filled with children’s parades around the island and swimming in the lagoon that is now home to the Day Island Yacht Club. Days were spent paddling out to Fox and McNeil islands, where an occasional whale spotting was not unusual, nor were “rescues” by the Willits Brothers, who with their hand-made canoes, became somewhat of a two-man coast guard that would rescue those who ventured too far from home.

To learn more about this special part of University Place history, catch the short video about Day Island on our YouTube or channel on the City’s television channel (Click! 12 or Comcast 21) as a part of the most recent Rainier Country program.