1125 Harvard Avenue East

Updated: April 30, 2024

Spring 2024

The site, including the house, was designated a city landmark in July 2023. Currently, SPR is negotiating with the Landmarks Preservation Board to determine which site or house elements are specifically protected or exempted, also known as “Controls and Incentives”. The controls will directly affect how the site and house may be renovated for future uses.

Thank you to everyone who has provided input on this project and joined us at our third public meeting on January 17, 2024. In case you were unable to attend or would like more information on the project, please view the video presentation below. 

The meeting and presentation provides a high-level walkthrough of the future buildout for the park site as well as the interim plan for opening a portion of the site to the public until additional funding becomes available. .

Based on Seattle Park District funding plans, 2029 is the earliest funding may be allocated for the full design and development of the entire site at 1125 Harvard Ave E.  In the interim, we want to provide meaningful access for the public to enjoy part of the park.

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

In the mid-1930 the property at 1125 Harvard Ave E. was donated 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 and it was designated a life estate.

Kay Bullitt continued to live 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.

SPR hired Karen Kiest Landscape Architecture to lead the community engagement, visioning, and design process for the new park.


Several park sites across the city have been on hold while development funding was obtained and are higher up in the SPR project queue. 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.

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 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 donated 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 Volunteer Park in the 1930s. 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 a neighbor, Prentice Bloedel, who then sold it to Stimson Bullitt.

Stimson Bullitt (1919-2009) was an attorney, real estate developer, and the son of A. Scott Bullitt and media pioneer, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt. The parcel was not developed until Bullitt divorced and married his second wife, Katherine (Kay) Muller, The couple had local architect Fred Bassetti design a modern A-frame house for their growing family. The landscape architecture firm, Eckbo, Royston, and Williams, designed the large yard, with 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 polycarbonate skylights along the ridgeline, canted windows to let in the light, and an open 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 donated their 1.6-acre property to the City of Seattle, to be eventually developed into a public park.

Toward the end of Kay’s life, she and her daughters invited Plant Amnesty, a nonprofit group dedicated to proper vegetation pruning, to help maintain areas on the property. Plant Amnesty has been working on the property designing small garden spaces.

Plant Amnesty became an official ‘Friends of Group’ with SPR 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

Public Meeting #3 - 1/17/24

Thank you to everyone who has provided input on this project and joined us at our third public meeting on January 17, 2024. In case you were unable to attend or would like more information on the project, please view the video presentation below. 

May 2022 Online Survey Results Including Comments

Public Meeting and Open House 8/3/2022

Public Design Meeting #2  10/15/2022

Parks and Recreation

AP Diaz, Superintendent
Mailing Address: 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109
Phone: (206) 684-4075
Fax: (206) 615-1813

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