Special Reports

Pride's preserves spread beyond kitchen

Some businesses make a name for themselves because they've been around forever. Others base their success on innovation. Mrs. Pride of Bellingham simply made unbelievably delicious preserves.

Undoubtedly, friends made excuses to drop by the Silver Beach home of Mae Pride and her husband, William Homer Pride, when berries were in season. There, they would find the mister in the backyard tending his fruit trees, the special hybrids he was so fond of creating, and the missus, concocting the best darn jam in town.

From that two-room house tucked between Toad Lake and Lake Whatcom, Mr. and Mrs. Pride began what would one day become a million-dollar business, W. H. Pride & Co. They quickly grew out of Mae Pride's kitchen and, in 1917, moved into their new, two-square-block factory at Moore and Connecticut streets.

Three years into their operation, the Prides received an order from the government. Seems the men building the Alaska railroad were hungry and wanted some jam. As the company grew, the Prides added a variety of crops to their repertoire, including berries, mincemeat and green beans.

Eventually, the canning company bought seven farms throughout the county. In 1920, the factory produced 60,000 cases of canned goods. At its peak, the factory employed close to 600 people.

The Prides sold their company in 1923, six years before William Pride died. The company remained a profitable business until the advent of technology for freezing fruits and vegetables. Mae Pride died in 1981. She was 102