Burke Memorial

Judge Thomas Burke Memorial, 2007. Courtesy Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks.
Seattle Art Museum and Vurke Memorial, Volunteer Park, Seattle
Judge Thomas Burke, 1890. Courtesy Volunteer Park Trust.

Judge Thomas Burke was an important civic leader in Seattle. He was a lawyer and judge, played an important role in the development of the Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern Railroad, helped bring the Great Northern Railroad’s terminus to Seattle in 1893, and stood up for the right of Chinese immigrants to due process when the Anti-Chinese Riots broke out in Seattle in 1886. After his death in 1925, his friends and admirers raised $50,000 to commission a monument to be placed in Volunteer Park. Sculptor Herman A. McNeil traveled to Bavaria, acquired a block of granite, and carved a bas-relief monument that was shipped to Seattle. While the sculpture was being created, Seattle architect Carl Gould, who would soon design the Seattle Asian Art Museum, designed a base with benches for the monument.

The memorial is one of many in Volunteer Park. Others include the plaque for water department superintendent L.B. Youngs on the water tower, another for the troops that served in the Spanish-American War, a rock placed just north of the museum in honor of Edward O. Schwagerl, a park superintendent, and a plaque at the base of a blue Atlas cedar on the north side of the reservoir recognizing the work of Rotary International.

Return to the Lily Pond and turn right. Walk up the steps, across the circular drive and up the path to the door at the base of the Water Tower.

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