Dunn Gardens

This is the seventh of an eight-part series on our blog, highlighting Historic Seattle’s 2015 Preservation Award recipients. The awards were presented at our 7th Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony on May 12, 2015, at the Good Shepherd Center.

Preserving Historic Landscapes

Dunn Gardens
13533 Northshire Road NW

Photo courtesy of E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust.

Photo courtesy of E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust.

The Preserving Historic Landscapes Award went to E. B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust for its respectful preservation stewardship of the work of the Olmsted Brothers, America’s leading landscape firm.

In 1914, Arthur Dunn purchased 10 acres of undeveloped rural land in what is now Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood and commissioned the renowned Olmsted Brothers to design a master plan for the family’s summer “country place.” The plan retained and enhanced many of the site’s natural features, and added new elements such as a curvilinear drive and foot paths; naturalistic groupings of deciduous trees and spring-flowering shrubs; large drifts of bulbs; a Great Lawn; and woodland walks.

Dunn, an avid gardener, took great pride in his garden, continually refining the plant list to suit his own style until his death in 1945. He passed on his love of gardening to his children. Edward B. Dunn, his second child, spent nearly 45 years turning a 2.7-acre site into a woodland haven.

When Ed Dunn died in 1991, he left an endowment for the garden’s preservation. Established in 1993, the E. B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust is a non-profit dedicated to conserving the Dunn Gardens, along with other historically and horticulturally significant Northwest gardens. The gardens opened to the public in 1994 and were listed on the National Register.

For over two decades, the Trust has worked to rehabilitate and conserve the Olmsted plantings. Charles Price and Glenn Withey, prominent garden designers, serve as resident curators. Mindful of the Dunn legacy, only subtle changes are made to the property. In 1993, the local landscape architecture firm, Portico Group, developed a master plan to guide the garden’s renovation.

Celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2015, the vision of the Gardens “as a place of timeless grace” has been realized. The Trust hopes to continue its stewardship of these remarkable gardens so they can be enjoyed for another century.

Supporting Partners: E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust; Doug Bayley; Charles Price and Glenn Withey; Portico Group.