The Volunteer Park Amphitheater Project received a powerful jump-start with the confirmation of major funding from multiple sources. Read more on our Amphitheater Project page.
We are proud of our Amphitheater Project accomplishments to date, with thanks to funding from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods:
- 2015 – Hired project leads ORA Architects and Walker Macy Landscape Architects and completed the Feasibility Study & Design Program with extensive outreach to neighbors, park users, the general public, and over 30 performance and community groups.
- 2016 – Completed the conceptual schematic designs for new Amphitheater.
- 2017 – Completed initial schematic design for the new Amphitheater approved by community groups, performance companies, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board.
- 2018 – Awarded $900,000 from Seattle Parks District’s Major Projects Challenge Fund and began preparations for a $2.7 million capital campaign.
With its broad lawns, historic buildings, central location, and ample parking, Volunteer Park is a city-wide destination for gatherings, concerts, rallies, and celebrations. The new Amphitheater will support a wide range of performances including plays, concerts, classical music, spoken word — and it will be the only public outdoor venue in Seattle with a roof, and the only public outdoor venue in Seattle to support dance.
The Coalition is comprised of Volunteer Park Trust, the Friends of the Conservatory, and Seattle Asian Art Museum. Its mission is to make the infrastructure of the Park and its institutions more efficient and environmentally sound. The Sustainability Coalition works closely with Seattle Parks & Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities, and conservation groups to make Volunteer Park a standard for the intelligent and cost effective use of resources.
The Coalition commissioned Young Architects LLC to draft a Park Sustainability Improvement Measures study. This study examines existing infrastructure in the park and identifies potential improvements in water and energy use that will make the Park more sustainable, reduce long term costs, and improve environmental impacts.
Volunteer Park Sustainability Improvement Measures Report
Young | Architecture LLC PDF Document – 1,108 KB
In 2016, the Volunteer Park Sustainability Coalition was awarded a $25,000 Small and Simple Neighborhood Matching Fund Grant by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The funds paid for a park-wide water capture and reuse feasibility study as the first facet of implementation of the Improvement Measures Study.
The feasibility study built on water-usage-related areas in the preliminary report including:
- Storm water management
- Water efficient landscaping
- Innovative waste water technologies
- Water use reduction
- Rain water harvesting
- Gray water re-use: potentially using water from the wading pool for irrigating the grounds
Read the full 81-page report here: VPSC-Feasibility-Study-2017-02-24-Final
In November 2018, the Volunteer Park Sustainability Coalition has announced a project to design and construct an up-to-date water filtration and treatment system for the Volunteer Park wading pool, as well as rain gardens and other “rainwater retention devices” for the park.
They are now seeking grant resources to pay for the estimated $1.8 million in costs. Read their full announcement.
We plan to undertake a series of restoration and replanting projects throughout Volunteer Park in the years ahead based on the original Olmsted Brothers’ planting plans. Thanks to grants from Seattle Garden Club, the Peach Foundation, and Wyman Youth Trust, we’ve already completed the projects below. Now we are already well under way in restoring the terraced lawns facing Volunteer Park’s western views and continue the work around both eastern shoulders of the reservoir.
Lily Pond Fencing Project
COMPLETED! Volunteer Park Trust has replaced the wire fencing around the North and South Lily Ponds with safe, permanent, thoughtfully designed metal rails. Stop by the park to see in person how beautiful the new fencing looks!
In October, 2018, the new wrought iron fencing around both Lily Ponds in Volunteer Park was installed. The crew at Ace Iron Works did a top notch job of hand-forging the iron railings, assembling the fencing sections, and installing them around both ponds. Their craftmanship in creating the gates that blend so seamlessly with the fencing is remarkable.
Our design, based on current and historical fencing in Olmsted parks, successfully passed reviews by the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and its Architectural Review Committee, and was approved by Seattle Parks and Recreation.
Our Public Presentation of Design occurred on July 19 from 6-8 PM at Summer Picnic in Volunteer Park. The public was able to visit our Design Booth at this fun community-wide event, ask questions, and see the final construction drawings for the fencing.
Volunteer Park Trust was awarded a $46,500 Neighborhood Matching Funds grant to help fund this project from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The grant requires a match of $23,250 in cash, volunteer time, and donated professional services.
Associated Recreation Council donated $2,826 towards our match and thanks to generous individual donors we met our match requirements!
Previous Conditions: The previous barrier surrounding both ponds was made of insubstantial, low-quality, 27″ tall wire fencing which had been badly battered over time. This barrier was more decorative than useful; it was easily stepped on and stepped over, and readily pulled up out of the ground.
A Beautiful Replacement: The Trust replaced this with a thoughtfully designed, 28″ high, permanent, metal fencing running around the circumference of both ponds.
Safety First: The new fencing will help to protect all people, but we are particularly concerned about keeping children safe. Both ponds, with their beautiful water plants, swimming goldfish, blooming water lilies, and nesting ducks are a delightful and powerful attraction for children of all ages. Safety issues for children at the Lily Ponds go back over a hundred years:
- Read the 1910 letter from Seattle Board of Park Commissioners discussing their concerns.
- Read the 1911 Letter from James Dawson expressing his concerns for the pond safety.
- Read the 1912 Field Note detailing two children who fell over the pond edge.
Ducks & Ducklings: The new fencing will have no impact on ducks in the lily ponds. Seattle Parks and Recreation will continue their practice of providing seasonal ramps for ducklings. The fence design allows ducklings to easily pass through the bars.
Our new fencing provides a proper, sturdy safety barrier and enhances the refined beauty of our park for everyone to enjoy.
Volunteer Park Lighting Improvement Project
COMPLETED! Volunteer Park Trust worked in partnership with Seattle Parks & Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities to improve the lighting throughout Volunteer Park.
Dim & Damaged: Until recently, Volunteer Park’s 40 street lamps used inefficient sodium bulbs. Their decades-old lamp globes were dirty, damaged, and blocked too much light.
A Bright Solution: Now all the park’s street lamps have been replaced with modern, brighter, energy efficient, LED bulbs, broken lamp globes have been replaced, and the dirty globes cleaned. We now have a brighter, safer park after sunset.
The paint on all 30 metal light poles throughout the park was weather beaten, peeling, and unsightly. Volunteer Park Trust and Seattle Parks and Recreation contracted New Finishes, Inc. to complete new, electrostatic painting of the poles, including:
- Moss removal and sanding
- Iron phosphate treatment on any rust
- Electrostatic epoxy primer
- Electrostatic 2-component urethane topcoat
Completed in October 2018, this $35,000 painting project was funded entirely by Volunteer Park Trust thanks to our many donors. The poles are now painted a uniform color that is based on the past paint color. As a “maintenance” project, the pole repainting did not require Seattle Landmarks Board review.
The newly painted light poles help bring Volunteer Park back to the level of stateliness and elegance intended by its original designers, the Olmsted Brothers.
In 2015, Volunteer Park Trust received a grant from Seattle Garden Club to restore a major bed in Volunteer Park that had been long overgrown and neglected. Now we are proud to announce the completion of the Seattle Garden Club Garden!
The project location, southeast of the South Lily Pond, is a large landmarked planting with established spruce and cedar trees and native ground cover. Our goal for the grant funds was to reshape the beds to the original Olmsted plan and cultivate the open areas. We planted compact Forsythia, roses, Cotoneaster, Daphne, Hypericum and Potentilla, echoing the yellow palette called for by the 1910 Olmsted planting plan. To complete this major project, we had to:
- Create a formal, approved planting plan working in concert with Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, Seattle Landmarks Board, and Seattle Parks & Recreation.
- Remove invasive plants and remove, prune, and reposition overgrown plants.
- Install the basic irrigation framework and make sure that irrigation heads cover specific plants.
- Prepare the planting soil, obtain and install new plants, and mulch the planted beds.
- Develop and implement a long-term maintenance plan for managing the bed into the future.
During the Volunteer Park Trust 2016 Spring Restoration Day, we removed major overgrown rhododendrons and did intensive pruning, weeding and soil preparation. At our 2016 Fall Restoration Day and at an additional work day with Microsoft volunteers, we completed the final weeding and edging, and planted over 100 new plants.
Now in springtime the Seattle Garden Club Garden will bloom into the blazing field of yellow that the Olmsted Brothers intended.
In June of 2015, Volunteer Park Trust received a grant from the Peach Foundation to design and install the second part of the Peach Garden. The garden is located northwest of the north Lily Pond on the main concourse of Volunteer Park.
Over the next two years, Volunteer Park Trust:
- Prepared scaled drawings of existing plants, soil type, and light exposures. We have located and consulted with the original planting designs from 1910.
- Consulted with Seattle Parks and Recreation landscape design review board regarding existing trees and shrubs; appropriate shrubs for planting that are similar to the original Olmsted design but requiring less sun; as well as the shape of the planting beds.
- Organized volunteer clean up events to clear and prepare the site and, working with Seattle Parks staff, cleared the area of invasive plants, mulched, and prepared the bed for planting.
- Commissioned an irrigation review and plan to assure sufficient watering of the garden.
- Completed irrigation upgrades
- Planted the bed
The bed is now fully installed and Volunteer Park Trust is dedicated to weeding and maintaining the park’s newest fully restored garden bed!
Irrigation Project Completed!
Thanks to a grant from the Pendleton & Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation, our first irrigation repair and extension project was completed in late 2015 near the Watertower. Gone are the leaky pipes at the south end of the park, and the long-dry garden beds now have water piped to them. As we add new beds and improve plantings in Volunteer Park, irrigation upgrades and expansion will be a continual part of our ongoing projects.
A big thank you goes to those who have and are contributing to these projects!
For information on the Reservoir, Water Tower, and more, see our Future Projects page.