The Magnuson Community Garden
At the Warren G. Magnuson Park
Seattle Parks and Recreation
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About the Arbor

Visitors approaching the Community Garden will immediately notice the addition of an arbor just above the amphitheater. It is 154 feet long and 14 feet high, and serves as the back drop for the four tiered amphitheatr immediately east of the Brig. But where did it come from? How did it get there?

Completed Arbor

The arbor was not part of the original plan, but was actually the idea of the contractor, Jon Ruhnke Landscaping, hired to construct paths and sculpt the slopes of the community garden. The contractor spent many hours turning a muddy parking lot into the contoured hills of the garden. During these hours he visualized the grassy tiers of the finished amphitheater and imagined how beautiful they would be framed by a wooden arbor covered with fragrant wisteria on a warm summer evening.

Jon Ruhnke presented design drawings and virtual arbor photos to Eric Friedli, who was Director of Operations at Magnuson Park at the time. The idea of the arbor was approved, but the arbor project needed to be funded. About this time, the University Lion's Club approached Eric Friedli with an offer to fund a project that would represent their ideas and goals. Eric suggested the arbor and the Lion's Club most graciously and generously agreed to fund the arbor. The preliminary design was fine tuned and engineered and Jon Ruhnke was given the go ahead.

The arbor, beautiful in its apparent simplicity, was actually a complex project involving approximately 65 hours of design and materials research/acquisition time and approximately 300 hours of actual fabrication and erection time. A key element of this arbor design was the use of salvaged pilings from the Navy's dock on south Lake Union. This plan significantly reduced the overall cost of the arbor project and made use of rare and beautiful old growth cedar logs that had been destined to become wheel stops for cars at the park. Logs, from the stack of old pilings, were carefully selected and custom milled on site.   The wood was carefully coated in a wood preservative approved by the EPA and USDA for food crating products. This particular preservative was chosen, after much research, because of arbor's proximity to the P-Patch and in recognition of their diligent effort to remain organic and chemical free.

After two weeks in the commissary, the posts and cross arms were ready to be bolted into place. But first, Jon Ruhnke and Tim Harmon, of Harmon Carpentry & Remodel, painstakingly laid out the plan on the actual site, working to ensure that the custom made brackets cast into the concrete were perfectly level and that each post face was square and plumb to the hub  in the middle. 

Partially Processed Logs
Column being put in position

The wood posts were spaced to create the feel of an ancient coliseum, but were left in their rough cut natural state to preserve the character of a Pacific Northwest Garden.

 The arbor is a beautiful addition to the beautifully evolving garden at Magnuson and a fine example of what a community working together can accomplish.

See  the Amphitheater page to view  pictures of the Arbor dedication.

Magnuson Community Garden, Warren G. Magnuson Park - 6344 N.E. 74th St., Suite 104 - Seattle, WA 98115