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William Grose Park is a modest little park dedicated to a truly great individual. Tucked away between in the Madison Valley neighborhood of Seattle, it is located near the corner of 30th ave and Howell St. The park is less popular than the nearby water catchment park, but still has its fair share of visitors. The park contains a few trees, a sizeable area of grass and weeds, a few garbage cans, picnic tables, and benches, along with a winding cement path through the center. Beside the path, there is a plaque honoring William Grose. It reads: “1835- 1898, William Grose, sailor - farmer - goldminer - hotelier - restaurateur - early supporter of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. The first person of African descent to own property in East Madison / Seattle - 1882. Dedication 1983.”


  • William Grose
  • William Grose's House

William Grose was born and raised in Washington D.C., he left home at the age of 18 to join the Navy, where he traveled the world in service of the country. From an early age, Grose saw the wrongs being done to African-Americans and decided to take action. After his honorable discharge from the military, he took up work on a farm in California, where he helped illegally enslaved African-Americans escape. Grose had many interesting exploits while assisting illegally enslaved people escape their bonds, among these is when he traveled all the way to Panama to prevent the deportation of slaves back to the United States.

While working as a steward on a ship, Grose met the governor of Washington, Isaac Stevens, whom he impressed by finding and keeping safe a watch belonging to Stevens. The governor appreciated Grose’s actions and believed that Seattle could use more caring and generous people. Grose did move to Seattle, picking up work as a cook, which made him the second black settler in the then small city of Seattle. After working as a cook, Grose opened his own restaurant and hotel, called “Our House”, located in Pioneer square. In 1882, Grose bought 12 acres of land in the East Madison area of Seattle to move into with his wife of 3 years, Sarah.

Grose was a very generous man; for instance, after he sold his hotel, it burnt down in the Great Seattle Fire. Rather than keeping the money, Grose went to the buyer and refunded him the full amount. Grose also sold property in the Central District at reasonable prices to other African Americans looking to live in Seattle. This allowed people to avoid the racist property ownership laws in Seattle at the time and allowed the African American community to grow in the area. These actions by Grose are one of the main reasons why the Central District is a historically black area of Seattle. Throughout the rest of his life, Grose supported many other causes to help African Americans in the Seattle area and throughout the country. Grose died in 1898, leaving his impact on the rest of the world.

The park that is now dedicated to William Grose was originally named “30th ave. mini-park” when it was acquired in 1970, but in 1983, after some changes, it was dedicated to William Grose.

William Grose Park, Seattle Parks and Recreation. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/william-grose-park.

Henry, Mary. Grose, William, History Link. November 27th 1998. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/393.

Jones, Jae. William Grose: One of the Wealthiest Black Businessmen in Seattle During the 19th Century, Black Then. February 6th 2019. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://blackthen.com/william-grose-one-wealthiest-black-businessmen-seattle-19th-century/.

Tamblyn, George. William Grose, Black Past. January 26th 2007. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/grose-william-1835-1898/.

William Grose home, Seattle, ca. 1975, Black Heritage Society. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/imlsblackhs/id/91/.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Jones, Jae. William Grose: One of the Wealthiest Black Businessmen in Seattle During the 19th Century, Black Then. February 6th 2019. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://blackthen.com/william-grose-one-wealthiest-black-businessmen-seattle-19th-century/.

William Grose home, Seattle, ca. 1975, Black Heritage Society. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/imlsblackhs/id/91/.

Jaxon Gordon

Jaxon Gordon