Established in 1927, Kerry Park is a Seattle landmark that offers its visitors a breathtaking view of the infamous Seattle skyline and sometimes even Mount Rainier. Kerry Park was formed when community leader Albert S. Kerry and his wife Katherine A. Kerry donated their land, “... so that all who stop here may enjoy [its] view.” Later, in 1971, the Kerrys’ children commissioned an artist to make a sculpture for the park, which has since become a popular play area. Since its creation in 1927, Kerry Park has served as a staple in the Queen Anne neighborhood and greater Seattle that provides a place to meet, relax, and enjoy a captivating view.
Backstory and Context
Kerry Park is named after Albert S. Kerry, a leader who strongly impacted the Seattle community. Kerry was born on April 14, 1866, in Kingston, Ontario. When he was a child, he and his thirteen-member family moved to Michigan, where he attended school and college. It was not until 1886, when Kerry was 20, that he moved to Seattle. Immediately, Kerry went to work as a lumberman. Kerry worked for a year as a tallyman (he recorded the sizes of the pieces of cut lumber), until the mill foreman quit and he was promoted to that position. Three years later, in 1890, Kerry married Mary Ellen Monroe and became a manager for a different lumber company. In 1892, when that company went under, Kerry took over leasing their sawmill himself. Four years after that, Kerry and two of his brothers founded the Kerry Lumber Company. Unfortunately, it was not long before a fire destroyed the company mill. Soon after that, in early 1898, Kerry left Seattle due to an incorrect diagnosis of tuberculosis from his doctor, who recommended he travel North for a cure.
Coincidentally, as Kerry’s doctor advised him to head North, the Klondike Gold Rush was taking place. Kerry decided to participate, although nothing major came of it. Kerry came back to Seattle near the end of 1899 and re-established the Kerry Lumber Company, although a fire once again destroyed the company’s mill in 1901 a day after the death of Kerry’s wife. A year later, Kerry married Katherine Amelia Glen. Soon after that, Kerry bought his family home at 421 W Highland Drive, land which would eventually become Kerry Park. Finally, Kerry got into local politics.
Kerry’s political career started slowly. In 1904 he helped make the Rainier Club building, and later became the club’s president. In 1909, he served as the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition’s vice president, and also as a member of the executive committee of that fair. Later, his political career sped up. He served as president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce in 1923, then as president of the Community Hotel Corporation in 1924, for which the hotel later made a bronze statue of him. Kerry also served as president of the Seattle Park Board, president of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, and several other positions that benefitted his community. People tried to get Kerry to pursue higher politics, but he refused to run for Senate, saying that he wanted to benefit his local community directly.
Benefit his local community directly is exactly what Kerry did when he and his wife donated their land to the City in 1927. The couple donated their land “... so that all who stop here may enjoy [its] view,” and thus, Kerry Park was born. Since then, the 1.26-acre park has freely provided its iconic view to local Queen Anne and Seattle residents and tourists from all over the world alike. Additionally, Kerry’s children commissioned an artist to make a sculpture in the middle of the park with donations in 1971. It has since become a popular area for children to play. Kerry Park has provided its community with a quality place to meet and hang out for nearly 100 years due to the generosity and donations of the Kerry family.
Buildings. “Kerry, A.S., Sr., House, Queen Anne, Seattle, WA (1902-1903).” Pacific Coast Architecture Database. Accessed May 28, 2020. http://pcad.lib.washington.edu/building/12992/.
Dougherty, Phil. “Kerry, Albert Sperry (1866-1939).” History Link. Accessed May 21, 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/8856.
Parks, Recreation and Attractions. “Kerry Park (Franklin Place).” Seattle Parks and Recreation. Accessed May 21, 2020. https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/kerry-park.
Places. “Albert S Kerry House – 421 W Highland Dr.” Queen Anne Historical Society. Accessed May 27, 2020. https://qahistory.org/kerry-house/.