1125 Harvard Avenue East

Updated: October 25, 2022

Fall 2022

A big thank you from Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) for such a great turn out at the second public meeting for the new park, located at 1125 Harvard Ave E. Over 100 of you came out on Saturday morning to review the vision, design concept and proposed elements for the new park. Seattle Asian Art Museum graciously donated their meeting room for the public meeting, which was held on October 15. If you were not able to attend, please don’t despair, we have placed a pre-recording (video) of the presentation and the presentation boards below.

We would like to extend a big thank you to the 200 neighbors, community members and folks from Plant Amnesty that came out for our first Open House/Meet-n-Greet in August! A great turn out on a lovely summer’s night. We appreciate your time, comments, and interest in the project. The August presentation boards, and the May 2022 online survey results, can be found below.

Please view this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document if you have questions

In the mid-1930’s the property at 1125 Harvard Ave E. was given to the City of Seattle by the Henry family for a future library. At that time the City did not want a library at this location, so the City demolished the original Henry house and sold the property to the Bloedel family who lived next door. Mr. Henry’s art collection, stored above the garage, was donated to the University of Washington, and now comprises the Henry Art Gallery.

In the early-1950’s the property was purchased from the Bloedel family by the Bullitt family, and became the future home for newlyweds, Stimson and Katharine (Kay) Bullitt. Over the years, Kay was known for inviting the community into her garden for Wednesday night picnics and hosted many day camps for children from all walks of life. In 1972, Stimson and Kay Bullitt generously gave the 1.6 acre property to the City of Seattle for a future park.

Kay Bullitt continued to live her life in the house until passing away on August 22, 2021.

Community Engagement and Concept/Early Design Process

Seattle Parks and Recreation would like to acknowledge that this is a unique opportunity for SPR as an agency and for the community. As we move forward with bringing this site into SPR’s inventory, we recognize that there are key factors in transitioning from being a private yard and garden to being under public ownership.

Please join us as we launch a full, inclusive public engagement process and conversation about the future park design and intent.

SPR has hired Karen Kiest Landscape Architecture to lead the community engagement, visioning, and design process for the new park. The first phase of this project includes engaging with the community in developing concept level/early design plans for the public park.

We anticipate public engagement starting in May/June of 2022.
Final product of this initial phase will include:

  • Establishing a vision for the park
  • Concept/early schematic design for the park
  • Rough order of magnitude cost estimate for possible inclusion in future rounds of Metropolitan Park District funding

Location

1125 Harvard Ave E, Seattle 98102

Budget

  • The City has several park sites that have been waiting for development funding and are higher up in the que. Current funding cycle projections have this park being funded through the Metropolitan Park District (MPD) in 8-16 years.
  • The City is focusing on prioritizing funding for projects that are located in communities of need, while also strongly focusing on contracting Women or Minority owned businesses (WMBE) where and whenever possible.
  • The firm selected for the public engagement and early design phase of the project is a WMBE Landscape Architecture firm.

Schedule

Planning:

  • Initial Survey launch – May/June 2022
  • Open House/Meet-n-Greet meeting #1– August 3, 2022
  • Vision and concept design meeting #2 – October 15, 2022
  • Early Schematic design meeting #3 – February/March 2023

* Please note that public meetings may be held in a virtual form depending on health restrictions. 
Design:
To be determined
Construction: To be determined

Site History

Horace Chapin (H. C.) Henry (1844-1928) was a prominent railroad builder, financier, and philanthropist. He was known for, among other things, constructing the Northern Pacific Railroad around Lake Washington, the Great Northern through the Cascade Mountains, and 450 miles of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul. Henry and his wife Susan Elizabeth Johnson arrived in Seattle in 1890. In 1901, the couple built a grand Elizabethan mansion at today’s 1125 Harvard Avenue E, and with it, an impressive gallery for Henry’s art collection, which was opened to the public on weekends. Henry passed the collection, and $100,000 for the new Henry Art Gallery, to the University of Washington in 1926, and died in 1928. The gallery, with its extensively landscaped grounds, would serve as the Seattle Art Institute until a new museum was built at nearby Volunteer Park in the 1930’s. In 1935, Henry’s sons donated the house and grounds to the City of Seattle as a public library site and the house was demolished. When the City chose a different location for its new library, the property was acquired by neighbor, Prentice Bloedel, who then sold it to Stimson Bullitt, with the agreement that only one house would be placed on the lot, although it was zoned for as many as 13.

Stimson Bullitt (1919-2009) was an attorney, real estate developer, and the son of A. Scott Bullitt and media pioneer, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt. He initially requested that prominent architect Paul Thiry build a house for him and his first wife. However, the parcel was not developed until Bullitt divorced and married his second wife, Katherine (Kay) Squire Muller, a Radcliffe alum and activist. Married in 1954, the couple had local architect Fred Bassetti build a Modern A-frame for their growing family. The San Francisco landscape architects, Eckbo, Royston, and Williams, designed the large yard, keeping a remnant from the Henry era, an elaborate staircase to Boylston Avenue. The Modern house, contrasting with the older and grander homes on Capitol Hill, was completed in 1955, and included plexiglass skylights along the ridgeline, canted windows to let in the light, and an open, airy floor plan anchored by a massive stone fireplace. The Bullitts regularly opened their house and yard for events, for children’s day camps, and for neighborhood picnics in the summer. In 1972, they graciously donated their 1.6 acre property to the City of Seattle, to be used in the future as a public park.

Toward the end of Kay’s life, she and her daughters invited Plant Amnesty, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to proper pruning, to come and garden areas on her property. Plant Amnesty has been working on the property designing small garden spaces over the last few years. We want to thank them for their stewardship and look forward to their involvement during the public process.

Plant Amnesty has now become an official ‘Friends of Group’ with Seattle Parks and Recreation for the care and maintenance of plant areas within the new park site. If you are interested in joining a volunteer work party or finding out more information, please go to SPR’s Volunteer website at: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/volunteer

Although the Bullitts would later divorce, Kay Bullitt remained at 1125 Harvard Ave E until her death in August 2021, after which, the house and grounds passed to Seattle Parks and Recreation.  

Community Participation

May 2022 Online Survey Results Including Comments

Public Meeting and Open House 8/3/2022

Public Design Meeting #2  10/15/2022