Seattle Now & Then: Kinnear Park

(click to enlarge photos) 

THEN: For his May Day, 1901 portrait of the Seattle City Council, the photographer, Anders Wilse, planted them, like additions to the landscape, on the lawn somewhere in the upper part of Kinnear Park. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
THEN: For his May Day, 1900 portrait of the Seattle City Council, the photographer, Anders Wilse, planted them, like additions to the landscape, on the lawn somewhere in the upper part of Kinnear Park. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

NOW: Sitting among the VIPs attending the recent April 26th “Grand Opening” of Lower Kinnear Park’s restoration is HBB Landscape Architect Aaron Luoma and his son Owen.  It was HBB that guided the design and work involved, including the paths, the 1947 tennis court, seen here, and the park’s new and popular Off-Leash Area for dogs.  Dean Koonts, also of HBB, notes that the two trees “posing” upper-right are both included in the list of Seattle’s “Exceptional Trees.” The closer one with silver bark is a Copper Beach, and behind it stands a European Hornbeam.
NOW: Sitting among the VIPs attending the recent April 26th “Grand Opening” of Lower Kinnear Park’s restoration is HBB Landscape Architect Aaron Luoma and his son Owen. It was HBB that guided the design and work involved, including the paths, the 1947 tennis court, seen here, and the park’s new and popular Off-Leash Area for dogs. Dean Koonts, also of HBB, notes that the two trees “posing” upper-right are both included in the list of Seattle’s “Exceptional Trees.” The closer one with silver bark is a Copper Beach, and behind it stands a European Hornbeam.  [ Marga Rose Hancock’s full list for Jean’s repeat reads,  “Front Row: Brian Yee (FOLKpark), Acting Superintendent of Parks Christopher Williams,  Deputy Mayor Andrea Riniker, Kay Knapton (FOLKpark), Deborah Frausto (FOLKpark), Jean Sundborg (Uptown Alliance), Karen O’Conner (Seattle Park staff), Ian Gerrard (with French horn), slamandir (trombone and no last name, no upper case letters) – Top Row:  Matt Mulder and doggie Sam (FOLKpark), Michael Herschensohn (Queen Anne Historical Society), Seattle Councilmember Jean Godden, Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshow, Kim Baldwin (Seattle Parks staff), State Senator Jeane Kohl-Wells, Aaron Luoma and son Owen (HBB Landscape Architects), Christa Dumpys (Dept. of Neighborhoods), Laurie Ames (Dept. of Neighborhoods), Marga Rose Hancock.)
On Christmas Day 1894, a landslide dropped a 150-foot swath off the bluff between the lower and upper parts of Kinnear Park into Elliott Bay.  Seattle’s third park sits on the southwest brow of Queen Anne Hill.  From its northern border on West Olympic Place, it nearly plunges 250 feet in elevation to the waterfront.

KINNEAR-color-Gowey--w-interbay-cars--WEB

For the Seattle Park Board, the slide of ’94 was encore to a swan dive taken a year earlier by the city treasury with the economic Panic of 1893.  The board decreed that “the limited funds at disposal” be used only on the “upper portion of this park, which is upon the solid bluff.”   When Angie and George Kinnear gave the park to the city for one dollar in the fall of 1887, the beach, backed by ancient Douglas Firs, was already a poplar retreat for those who could reach it. Its open view to the Olympics was blocked earlier that summer of ‘87 by the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad, the first of three off-shore trestles to run between the beach and the bay.

A crude copy of Parks Dept.'s engineer-historian Don Sherwood's map of Kinnear Park included in his magnus opus handwritten coverage of the history of all Seattle Parks. Note colored in red the "viewpoint" comfort station hand-colored in red on the map above and reflecting a sunset in Lawton Gowey's side below.
A crude copy of Parks Dept.’s engineer-historian Don Sherwood’s map of Kinnear Park included in his magnus opus handwritten coverage of the history of all Seattle Parks. Note the “viewpoint” comfort station hand-colored in red on the map above and reflecting a sunset  in Lawton Gowey’s side below.  The map, above, and also outlined in red, are the tennis courts in Lower Kinnear Park that are shown, in part, in Jean’s repeat.

Gowey--color-slide-of-upper-Kinnear-WEB

From the upper park the views across Puget Sound were transcendent, (still are) and it was there that the Seattle City Council relaxed on the afternoon of its May 1, 1900 “official inspection tour.” City Engineer Reginald Thomson, sitting here directly behind the councilman on the far left, led the May Day tour that was primarily of the reservoirs and standpipes being then completed for the anticipated delivery by gravity of cool and pure Cedar River water in abundance. For his “repeat” one hundred and fourteen years later, Jean Sherrard took the freshly restored but still steep path down the bluff to record the Park Department’s and FOLKpark’s Grand Opening of the restored park on Saturday, April 26, last.

We take a chance this is part of the original park department path that linked the lower and upper parts of Kinnear.  We remember reading "Kinnear Park" written on the original slide . . . we think.
We take a chance that this is part of the original park department path that linked the lower and upper parts of Kinnear. We remember reading “Kinnear Park” written on the original slide . . . we think.

FOLKpark stands for Friends of Lower Kinnear Park.  For this Sunday’s feature the most important member among them is Marga Rose Hancock.  A neighbor of the park, she first suggested this “now and then,” and then, out of respect to the dress code of the city council in 1900, pulled from her large collection of purple hats, covers for the heads of those posing now, including one of a FOLKpark member’s dog named Sam. Jean’s “now” is a sampler of both happy and concerned citizens.  It includes the department of park’s acting superintendent, the deputy mayor, several more members of FOLKpark, two council members, a Washington State senator, the director of the Queen Anne Historical Society, and a representative of the neighborhood’s Uptown Alliance.

Also posing are two members of the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band, which played for the dedication ceremony.  Marga Rose is found, all in purple, behind the band’s trombonist named salamander.  It is a moniker that by request includes no caps or first name.

Kinnear Park Playground, June 1913.  (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
Kinnear Park Playground, June 1913. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
Five blocks east of the park, the Kinnear mansion kept its own surrounding park until replaced by the Bayview Manor.
Five blocks east of the park, the Kinnear mansion kept its own surrounding park until replaced by the Bayview Manor.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?   We hope to – Ron and I.  There are former features from this blog that have parts relevant to this southwest corner of Queen Anne Hill.   Included are the blog features titled “The Whilhelmina / Winona;”   “Smith Cover Glass Works,” published April 28, 2012; and “Testing Cedar River Water,” that appeared here on Jan 2, 2010.    And there are others, as you will find if you use the KEY WORD approach offered above, and type there either “Kinnear” or “Queen Anne.”  We sincerely hope to also put up actual links to some of these by the time the sun rises, illuminating the paper routes to your front doors.

THEN:Carolyn Marr, Museum of History and Industry librarian and Anders Wilse expert, answers the joking caption on Councilman Reinhard’s pant leg with another example. “Wilse had a wry sense of humor. In one photo he took during the Great Northern Railroad construction project, a group of 4 men sit around a table playing cards with revolvers and glasses of liquid. He wrote on the photo ‘A Merry Christmas.’”  (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

The bust of R.H. Thomson looks down at the Headworks, which is the dam, for the city's gravity system.  It is still being constructed here.  The date is Nov. 14,1999 and A. Wilse was the photographer, as we was for many of the subjects included below.  His negative number for this is "48x".

========

The Kinnear Park Mushroom with the southern head of Magnolia showing through the screen of park trees on the far west side of Smith Cove.  (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
The Kinnear Park Mushroom with the southern head of Magnolia showing through the screen of park trees on the far west side of Smith Cove. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

THE KINNEAR PAR MUSHROOM AKA UMBRELLA

Seattle’s earliest parks from the 1880s and 1890s were rusticated with park benches shaped from unhewn tree limbs, trestles, pergolas and gates that one might imagine were handmade by forest nymphs.  Judging by the number of photographs that survive, one of the more popular examples was Kinnear Park’s romantic mushroom  – or umbrella or parachute.

Kinnear-Park-'Mushroom-WEB'

A “rustic parachute trellis seat” is what the Seattle Park Department’s annual report for 1892 calls it.  Also that  year a “rustic bluff barrier rail” was completed along the exposed edge of the upper level of Kinnear Park.    Thee improvements were made two year after the Kinnear family’s gift to the city was cleared of underbrush.  Beds of flowers and hrub were donated by neighbors and arranged by the park’s gardener.  In 1894 a “picturesque pavilion” wa added atop a knoll and connected to the park by “rustic bridge.”

Picturesque-Pavilion-hand-colored-Kinnear-Pk.-Web

The Seattle Park Department’s archival “Sherwood Files – named for Don Sherwood and searchable on the park department’s web page – do not reveal when the umbrella was removed.  Ultimately these rustic structures were too delicate – too organic — to survive the wear of admiring park visitors.  And on occasions this narrow strip along the southwest slope of Queen Anne Hill was quite busy.  For instance, the crowds attending the Tuesday evening concerts in the park during the summer of 1910 averaged more than 2,500.

This snow covered mushroom comes from a collection of glass negatives photographed by the Queen Anne Duffy family in the first years of the 20th Century.  Consequently, this is most likely not the Big Snow of 1916.
This snow covered mushroom comes from a collection of glass negatives photographed by the Queen Anne Duffy family in the first years of the 20th Century. Consequently, this is most likely not the Big Snow of 1916.

Through the summer of 1936, Kinnear Park was used for Sunday forums on such uplifting topics as “How Cooperatives Help Our City” and “Are We Getting Better or Worse?,” and six-minute talks on “Why I am a Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Prohibitionist.”  These assemblies concluded with community sing-alongs which, The Seattle Times reported, send the crowds home with their faces “wreathed in smiles.”

Another early-century snowscape in Kinnear Park.
Another early-century snowscape in Kinnear Park.
Most likely this is another slide by Queen Anne resident Lawton Gowey.
Most likely this look west from Kinnear Park and over Puget Sound is another slide by the helpful Queen Anne resident, Lawton Gowey.
Another photo opportunity for the council member and by A. Wilse on the first day of May, 1900.  (Courtesy Municipal Archive)
Another photo opportunity for the council member and by A. Wilse on the first day of May, 1900. (Courtesy Municipal Archive)

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Kinnear Park”

  1. Greetings, I assume I’m address Jean Sherrard, maybe Paul Dorpat too. I grew up until I was in my teens in the large brown house right next to the Kinnear mansion on the same property. My great uncle Charles owned the mansion then, and I used to visit him and his wife Lena in their sitting room on the second floor. I often played in Kinnear Park which was probably about a quarter mile from my house, and my maternal grandmother lived in an apartment just beyond the west end of the Park. I thought you would enjoy a wonderful picture that came down to me of the mansion on a snow-covered day. It’s on the cover of my book, “My Father’s House”, which you can find on the Amazon website, either by searching the title or my name, Cal Kinnear. My full name is George Calvert Kinnear (Middle name is my mother’s family name; her father was Frank Calvert, a cartoonist and one of the founders of Beaux Arts Village). My father’s full name was George Cosgrove Kinnear, and of course great grandfather’s name was also George Kinnear.

    I was delighted by this article about the Park, as I have been for many years by the photos and remarks Paul Dorpat has run in the Times. My thanks for the fine, enduring work.

    Cal Kinnear
    PO Box 13064
    Burton, WA 98013
    (Vashon Island)
    calkinnear@gmail.com

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