Denny Park

100 Dexter Avenue N

Denny Park, Seattle, 2015, Couretesy Seattle Municipal Archives (177932)
Denny Park center, Seattle, August 13, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Denny Park from 9th Avenue and John Street, Seattle, August 13, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Aeriel, Denny Park, Seattle, 1950, Seattle Municipal Archives (76154)
Denny Park from Denny School, Seattle, October 7, 1936, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (31478)
Denny Park Prior to Regrade, 9th Avenue
Denny Park Prior to Regrade, Seattle, 1909, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (28963)
David and Louisa Denny with daughers, ca. 1857, Courtesy UW Special Collections (POR870)

Yet another place of change, Denny Park started as a burial ground on property that David and Louisa Denny had donated to the city in 1864. In 1884, the property — minus the burials, which had been moved to what is now Volunteer Park — became Seattle’s first park, known as Seattle Park. Eventually, the city renamed the property Denny Park.

Sixty feet higher than at present, Denny Park was lowered during the final regrade of Denny Hill. Not everyone supported the change. Former mayor George Cotterill called the park “God’s acre” and felt that preserving the original elevation would be a “most beautiful and historic reminder of the pioneer era — the last of Denny Hill.” Despite his protests, the city council decided to lower the land to its present elevation in 1930. Sediment from work on the recently established Aurora Avenue near Green Lake was used to create a better substrate for the lowered Denny Park.

For many years, one of the prominent structures in the park was the 50-foot-tall, 16-ton cupola from Denny School. The school had been built in 1884 between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and Wall and Battery Streets to serve the hundreds of families living on Denny Hill. Workers had razed the school during the Denny Regrade in 1930 but saved the cupola and moved it to the park. It survived until 1950, when its decay led to maintenance employees burning it to the ground.

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