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Address: 1247 15th Ave E
Volunteer Park Information: (206)684-4555
Volunteer Park Conservatory:
Seattle Asian Art MuseumThis link will take you off the City of Seattle web site.: (206) 654-3100

In 1876 the City purchased 40 acres for $2,000 from a sawmill engineer, J. M. Colman (Colman Park) without specifying purpose other than "municipal".

Ordinance 642 in 1885 defined the purpose as "Washelli Cemetery" but two years later it was changed to "Lake View Park" and gravesites were ordered removed. By 1893, the Department had cleared about six acres of timber and planted a nursery supplemented with a greenhouse and hotbed.

Between 1887 and 1904 the park was improved with paths, lawns, beds of flowers, settees and tables for picnickers, and children’s swings, together with native growth, the only greenhouse in the system, and the high pressure reservoir. 1904-1909 the Olmsted Brothers prepared formal plans - gardens system of macadam drives, lily ponds, children’s wading pool and shelter, combination pergola, music pavilion and comfort station, and conservatory building - all completed by 1912.

Volunteer Park in 1912
Outstanding display of flowering plants from all areas of the world, notable orchid collection began as gift from Anna H. Clise in 1919; 600 varieties. conservatory built in 1912.
> View the Conservatory

Water Tower:
Volunteer Park in 1912
Volunteer Park
Water Tower in 1912
Photograph courtesy
Seattle Municipal Archives.
Built by Water Department 1906, reservoir in 1901. 106 steps to observation deck. 75 1/2’ above road pavement at base (top elevation 520;) (Space Needle top elevation 725’); pavement at elevation 444.5’ is high point of Capitol Hill. Medallion on north side honors L.B. Youngs, first Superintendent of Water Department (1895-1923) and Superintendent of Light Department (1094-1010); bronze by VT Goumas.

Volunteer Monument:
ordinance in 1901 changed the name from "City Park" to Volunteer Park to honor the volunteers of the Spanish-American War (1898-1902). The granite boulder was erected in 1952, promoted by J. Willis Sayre, editor, concert and theatre manager, historian and veteran, through the United Spanish War Veterans (designed by Cassius Beardsley).

Seward Sculpture and pedestal by Richard Brooks of New York honors William Seward who was instrumental in purchase of Alaska in 1867. Statue was a feature of the 1909 AYP Exposition held on the US grounds; moved to this location in 1910 (Bailey Peninsula was purchased in 1911 - later named Seward Park). Sculpture financed by public subscription, sponsored by GG Beninghauser (jeweler), Meany, McGraw, etal.

Burke Monument:
bas relief by Herman McNeil, pedestal-bench-plaza by CF Gould, architect. Dedicated in 1930 to honor pioneer Judge Thomas Burke (1849-1925) - "patriot, jurist, orator, friend, patron of education", promoter of Pacific Rim harmony and trade; instrumental in bringing transcontinental railroad to Seattle. $50,000; memorial contributed by admirers of Judge Burke.

"Block" Playsculpture by Chas, Smith, UW sculptor, 1962. Honors Dorothy W. Block (1926-1961) for her interest in and activities with children; Park Commissioner 1959-1961. Sculpture sponsored by Block foundation.

Music in Parks began in pioneer days in Pioneer Square, became a feature of the 1909 AYP Exposition; the Olmsteds included a bandstand in their design of this park and concerts have been a feature here since then.

More Park history is now available from the files of Don Sherwood, 1916-1981, Park Historian > View the Don Sherwood History Files
Updated July 28, 2004
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