Mirrormont, nature-loving neighborhood, thrives at 50
January 29, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Issaquah, nestled at the base of Tiger Mountain, sits a neighborhood unlike any other in this community.
Surrounded by decades-old trees in a relatively isolated area along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, the 50-year-old community of Mirrormont is in some ways the epitome of the typical, nature-loving Pacific Northwest.
Long, forested driveways lead to unique houses constructed by different builders over the years, ensuring no two looked the same.
Homes sit on lots with multiple acres, with trees taller than you can imagine, all lending to one of the community’s most desirable qualities — the assurance of privacy.
There are no sidewalks, hardly any streetlights, but what the neighborhood lacks in basic community amenities, it makes up for with its scenic environment and tight-knit neighborhood feel.
‘I like my trees’
The Mirrormont community made its debut on Sept. 22, 1962, thanks in no small part to developers Rod Loveless and Glenn Nordlie.
The community’s name was inspired by the name of a villa in Casablanca, Morocco, where Loveless was stationed during World War II.
Three homes were built in 1962 and 15 more in 1963. Today, there are more than 580 homes in Mirrormont.
By the numbers
Source: Kellie Batali, Windermere Real Estate
On the Web
Learn more about the Mirrormont neighborhood at the Mirrormont Community Association’s website, www.mirrormont.org.
Tom Cole moved to Mirrormont in 1965, in one of the neighborhood’s signature A-frame chalets, and has lived there ever since, making him one of the community’s longest-standing residents.
Coming from the Midwest, Cole said he was eager to join the community in 1965, thanks to Mirrormont’s secluded nature and the more than reasonable price for the home.
“One reason that we did decide to buy it was that it was free,” he said with a laugh. “Things were on hard times around there and we were able to move in without any down payment.”
The reason he stayed, though, like so many of Mirrormont’s residents do, is the trees.
“I like my trees, you know, the 150-160 foot cedars,” he said.
A drive through the Mirrormont neighborhood feels more like a scenic trip through a national park, with towering trees on either side of the roadway.
It’s that opportunity to immerse oneself in nature that attracts many residents to the neighborhood.
“We each have about three quarters of an acre and we have trees, we have really big trees and that’s very hard to find these days,” said Linda Shepherd, a 24-year Mirrormont resident.
A sense of privacy
The colossal trees make it so that neighbors can’t peer into each other’s homes, offering a sense of privacy that is difficult to find in newer suburban neighborhoods.
Yet, the unique nature of Mirrormont is such that the distance between neighbors brings the community together rather than weakens it.
“There’s a combination of independence and interdependence that I like,” Shepherd said. “People are fairly independent and you might not see your neighbors very much, but if there’s a crisis or a problem, the community comes together.”
It was that community interconnectedness that attracted Paul Baer to join the neighborhood in August 2012.
“The people that live there are independent people, but you can be independent and still work well as a community and I think there are a lot of people that are very motivated and driven in their personal lives and they bring that to the sense of community so that Mirrormont is kind of its own place,” he said.
Mirrormont is located in unincorporated King County, and because of its secluded location, the community really is in the strange position where they must rely on each other.
For example, at a recent Mirrormont Community Association meeting, members found out that King County would not provide snow removal services due to budget constraints. The community also has taken it upon itself to institute an active block watch program.
‘Kind of quirky’
In a neighborhood where privacy is a prized tenant, Mirrormont residents still enjoy getting together.
Whether it’s a party at the neighborhood’s 11-acre park, a potluck bringing the Mirrormont Pea Patch gardeners together or a nice summer swim at the Mirrormont Country Club, residents take pride in their close-knit community.
“We’re unique,” said Heidi Kayler, who grew up in Mirrormont and returned several years later to raise her own family. “I would say part of the culture of Mirrormont is we tend to be kind of independent and self-sufficient and nature loving and kind of quirky. We’re quintessential Seattle in some ways, but we still like that sense of belonging and pride in community.”
Mirrormont residents appreciate the relative freedom they enjoy in the neighborhood absent of stringent community association rules.
“The people who live here have a tendency to be more creative and unique,” said Kellie Batali, a Mirrormont community member. “If people have the type of personality that desires more of a cookie-cutter type of neighborhood or home, they typically don’t buy here because it’s just not that type of area.”
In September, the community celebrated its 50th anniversary with a large party that attracted residents from the past and present. Former residents traveled from out of state just to celebrate Mirrormont.
“It’s just such a special place and the cool thing is there are so many other people who feel the same way I do about it,” Kayler said. “It really is exactly where I’m meant to be.”