1125 Harvard Avenue East

Updated: June 23, 2022

Help us plan and design a new park site!

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is happy to announce we will be starting the public engagement and design process for a new park on Capitol Hill, located at 1125 Harvard Ave E. As we begin this process, we would really like to hear your thoughts and desires.

Please take this online survey at: https://seattle.surveymonkey.com/r/1125HarvardAveE to offer your input. Thank you!

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 June/July 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 the next round of the Seattle Park District funding

We anticipate holding some public engagement events on site, most likely on Wednesday evenings this summer in part to honor Kay’s gathering events.
More to come on this.

    Location

    1125 Harvard Ave E, Seattle 98102

    Budget

    • Funding for development phases may be included in the next 6-year cycle of the Seattle Park District.
    • 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 - June 2022
       •  Concept design meeting – July/August 2022
       •  Concept/early Schematic design meeting – September/October 2022
    *
    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.