Seattle Now & Then: Good Shepherding

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Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.
Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.
The contemporary repeat was “adjusted” a few yards to the east to take advantage of this preseason practice by members of the Architects and Engineers Volleyball League.  A few of the old orchard’s trees survive along the park’s western border with Meridian Avenue, far right. Paul Dorpat
The contemporary repeat was “adjusted” a few yards to the east to take advantage of this preseason practice by members of the Architects and Engineers Volleyball League. A few of the old orchard’s trees survive along the park’s western border with Meridian Avenue, far right. Paul Dorpat

In 1941 several hundred women attended the Home of Good Shepherd’s annual open house for tea and a tour at the “summit” of Wallingford.  Among the attractions visited were the “well-stocked fruit rooms.”   Much of that fruit, of course, came from the institution’s own orchard, which here, with its gnarled trunks and matted grass, resembles a painting by Vincent Van Gough except that these trees – some of them – still bear apples in Wallingford and not olives in Saint-Remy.

The date for this wild portrait of a temporarily abandoned orchard falls between 1973, when the Home of the Good Shepherd closed and both its sisters and resident girls moved out, and 1981 when the Seattle Park Department turned the orchard into a playfield and park while saving some of the fruit trees.

It might have been used for retail. After closure the first inviting proposal for purchase came quickly to the sisters from a Los Angeles developer who wanted to rework the Good Shepherd campus into a shopping mall.  Concerned Wallingfordians – notably the Wallingford Community Council – just as quickly organized against this offer. For a mall, zoning would have needed to be changed, and the citizens made sure it was not.

The community council next successfully persuaded the city to use 1975 Forward Thrust funds to purchase the 11-acre campus.  A little more than half of it went to the Park Department.  Most of the rest became home for arts and culture non-profits with the non-park properties they used managed by Historic Seattle, the advocate of historic preservation. Urban agriculture – with Tilth and the Wallingford P-Patch – also continues to be part of the nourishing mix at home on the old Good Shepherd Campus.

The look east across the temporarily forsaken orchard towards the Good  Shepherd main campus building.  The photographer's back was to Meridian Avenue.
The look east across the temporarily forsaken orchard towards the Good Shepherd main campus building. The photographer's back was to Meridian Avenue. ca.1978.
An approximate repeat of the ca. 1978 prospect.
An approximate repeat of the ca. 1978 prospect.

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