Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park

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Judge Thomas Burke Monument at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park

Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park originated in 1885.[1] It is located on both sides of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, Washington, and occupies roughly 144 acres (58 ha). It is the largest cemetery in Seattle.


At the time of its inception, the area was known as Oak Lake, a full day's carriage ride from downtown via Ballard, Seattle, Washington. David Denny owned land by the lake, and when the old Seattle Cemetery was to become Denny Park he moved the remains of his infant son from there to his property at Oak Lake.

David Denny
David Denny, one of the founders of Seattle

In 1887, David Denny’s cousin Henry Levi Denny moved his family's plot from Capitol Hill to the new burial ground, and over time the number of burials increased, usually by family members and associates of the Denny Party.

In 1903, the property, known as Oaklake Cemetery,[2] was inherited by David's son, Victor Denny. Victor sold the property in 1914 to the American Necropolis Association, a St. Louis-based company that owned cemetery properties in several states. The ANA gave the cemetery the name "Washelli" (a Makah word meaning "westerly wind"), which had been the name of a central Seattle cemetery disestablished in 1887. In 1919, the Evergreen Cemetery Company started a competing cemetery on the western side of Aurora Avenue, directly opposite Washelli Cemetery. In 1922, Evergreen Cemetery purchased Washelli from the ANA, although the merger did not become final until 1928. By 1952, Evergreen had taken over the mausolea, crematory and columbarium. The cemetery changed its name to Evergreen Washelli in 1962.

The Evergreen Washelli cemetery was started as an "endowment care" cemetery, therefore a portion of the cost of a grave is designated into a trust fund for maintenance of the grounds. This allows for a cemetery to remain as a perpetual landmark. The Evergreen Washelli funeral home was started in 1972 in response to public demand. It quickly outgrew its offices on the eastern side of Washelli, and in 1994, moved into larger premises on the Evergreen side of the property, west of Aurora Avenue. Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park consists of the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home, Crematory, and Cemetery, Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Bothell Funeral Home, and Abbey View Cemetery in Brier, Washington.

Veterans Memorial Cemetery[edit]

Veterans Memorial Cemetery

The Veterans Memorial Cemetery was started in 1927, and contains over 5,000 white marble headstones. It also hosts two carronades from the frigate USS Constitution (known as "Old Ironsides"), and a 65-foot-tall (20 m) Chimes Tower.

Construction of the Chimes Tower began in 1950 and the tower was built in part with contributions from local veterans groups. The octagonal tower of amber glass and concrete bears the emblems of the contributing veterans organizations on many of its windows. The chimes carillon, which was installed in 1965, used to play patriotic tunes every hour, but was later silenced and remained still for many years. Today, the chimes sound at noon and 4:30 p.m. daily, in addition to special occasions such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. It stands as a permanent memorial to veterans who were buried elsewhere, but who are remembered by friends and relatives.

Buried here are several Medal of Honor recipients.

Doughboy statue[edit]

The Doughboy Statue at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery

In 1921, famous Seattle sculptor Alonzo Victor Lewis was commissioned to create a temporary plaster figure to commemorate the Seattle reunion of the 91st Division. Working mainly from his modest studio on Eastlake Avenue, Lewis used three soldiers from Fort Lawton as models and cast his plaster soldier to portray American patriotism, later stating that he envisioned the young soldier as "just returning from a victory — mud-covered and with a grim smile on his face."

In 1998, the "Doughboy" statue (cast in 1928) was moved from the Seattle Center to the Veterans Cemetery, and was re-dedicated there on November 11, 1998. Memorial Day Services have been held in the cemetery annually since 1927. Similar Spirit of the American Doughboy statues exist across the United States.

Washelli Columbarium[edit]

East of Aurora Avenue stands the Washelli columbarium, which holds the cremated remains of approximately 30,000 persons. Among these persons are the notable individuals Ben Fey, Leo Lassen, Ben Paris, and Stephen B. Packard.

Totem pole[edit]

The totem pole which weighs 800 pounds (360 kg) and stands 16 feet (4.9 m) high, had been carved in the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia and was shipped across Puget Sound to Thomas Kelley on Bainbridge Island. In the early 1930s, Kelley gave the pole to his next-door neighbor Clinton S. Harley, then General Manager of Evergreen Washelli, who had the indigenous art erected in the cemetery.

Haida Totem Pole

According to Haida legend, the totem tells the story of Genanasimgat[3] and his wife, who was the daughter of a powerful chief. Having heard that some hunters had spotted a rare white sea-otter, the mother of his bride asked Genanasimgat to kill the otter for its beautiful white fur, which he did. While the mother was skinning the otter, some blood got on the fur, so she asked her daughter to wash it in the sea, which her dutiful daughter did, but somehow the fur escaped her grasp and drifted into deeper water. During her pursuit of the fur, two orca whales kidnapped her. Genanasimgat, who loved his wife with all his heart, followed her to the bottom of the sea, where he met a crane, who hid him from the orcas under her breast feathers. After a number of other suspenseful adventures, Genanasimgat finally rescued his beloved wife and escaped home with her.

Bothell Funeral Home and Abbey View Memorial Park[edit]

Abbey View Memorial Park in Brier, Washington was founded by the Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in 1953 and covers 85 acres (34 ha). The Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home at Bothell, Washington was purchased in 1999, and provides preparation, cremation, memorialization, as well as chapel services.

Notable burials[edit]

Cheshiahud and Wife


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°42′34″N 122°20′44″W / 47.7095°N 122.3456°W / 47.7095; -122.3456