Monday, March 24, 2014

Kids to Park Day

Friends of Saint Edward State Park will be hosting Kids to Park Day on April 26th from 11am to 3pm.

While national Kids to Parks day is officially recognized on a national level in May, the Friends of Saint Edward State Park has consulted local schedules and will be celebrating a couple of weeks early.

Activities will include a photo scavenger hunt, wildlife seminar, short nature hikes, information on geocaching and more.  Further events and activities will be announced as they are confirmed.

Further information on the National movement can be found at

Kids to Parks Day has been endorsed by America’s State Parks, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Hiking Society, Boy Scouts of America, Children & Nature Network, Children’s National Medical Center, Department of Interior’s Youth in the Great Outdoors, National Education Association, National Environmental Education Foundation, National Geographic Kids, National Parks Hospitality Association, National Recreation and Parks Association, National Wildlife Federation, NFL Players Association, Ready Set Wear It!, US Play Coalition, US Army Corps of Engineers, and officially in support of the First Lady’s Let Move Outside! initiative to get more youth and families to be active and live healthier.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Parks Press Release

Below is the State Parks press release regarding January's public meeting.  The Friends Board of Directors will be in attendance.

1111 Israel Road S.W.     P.O. Box 42650     Olympia, WA 98504-2650     (360) 902-8500

Media contact:
Peter Herzog, (360) 902-8652           
Virginia Painter, (360) 902-8562
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388

State Parks Commission schedules public information meeting on potential new lease at Saint Edward State Park

OLYMPIA – Dec. 20, 2013 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announces a public meeting to discuss a potential new long-term lease arrangement that could help preserve the decaying historic Seminary Building at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Northshore Utility District, 6830 N.E. 185th Street, Kenmore. State Parks will explain the agency’s process for evaluating a long-term lease proposal and solicit input from the public about things the agency should consider in evaluating a long-term proposal. The public comment will be included in a report to the Commission at its regular meeting Jan. 23 in Olympia. The management plan for Saint Edward State Park is available online at Public comment may be provided via e-mail to
Saint Edward State Park is a 316-acre day-use park with expansive, lawns, trails and 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on Lake Washington. In the 1920s, the archbishop of Seattle donated the property to the Diocese of Seattle, and in 1931, the seminary building was constructed. The site was used as a Catholic Seminary by the Sulpician Order of Catholic Priests until 1977, when it was sold to the state. Saint Edward State Park was dedicated in 1978.
The focus of the lease proposal is the site’s unique historic Seminary building, which has an estimated need of $40 million for an appropriate level of stabilization and repair. The Late Romanesque Revival style building was designed by Seattle architect John Graham Sr. and constructed of concrete faced with brick and cast stone. The building has 80,000 square feet and features a bell tower, a grand hall, study hall, library, chapel, classrooms, dormitories, kitchen and former nuns’ quarters above the kitchen. State Parks and others have long been interested in finding a source of financial support to sustain and preserve the  structure. The building and surrounding landscape are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.     
In the summer of 2013, a group of historic preservation, political and community leaders met with the State Parks director and Commission members to reinvigorate the discussion. In early October, neighboring Bastyr University, a participant in the discussion, indicated a renewed interest in use of the building. The City of Kenmore also expressed interest in having the Seminary building saved from further deterioration and activated, while continuing to provide recreation opportunities in the park.  
As a result of this renewed discussion, the State Parks and Recreation Commission in November adopted a resolution and directed staff to explore partnerships to provide for rehabilitation and conservation of the building. Also in November, State Parks was approached by real estate broker Kidder Matthews, expressing an interest on behalf of a client for a long-term lease of the Seminary Building. The firm has not made the client’s name public but has indicated that the client is a locally based software company specializing in cyber security and that the interest in building use is for office space and related functions. 
Last week, State Parks staff organized a meeting with Kidder Mathews and several participants in last summer’s exploratory discussion. As a result of this meeting, State Parks staff determined that the agency should move forward to explore the proposal. While continuing to gather public comment, State Parks intends to pursue two steps: 
·         Short-term agreement: Prepare a temporary right-of-entry agreement authorizing the client’s representatives access to the Seminary Building to make improvements necessary for the client to establish occupancy quickly. Such improvements would bring a small part of the structure up to a secure, usable standard; for example, cleaning and routing utility and communication lines into the building. The intent of the right-of-entry would be to avoid or minimize any changes in public use of the park during the term of the temporary agreement. A draft right-of-entry agreement will be available to the public at the Jan. 14 meeting in Kenmore and will be included in a report to the Commission at its regular meeting Jan. 23 in Olympia.

·         Long-term lease exploration: Work with the client’s representatives to develop and evaluate a long-term lease proposal. This includes preparing building and site rehabilitation plans and conducting an environmental review process with appropriate public participation, prior to Commission consideration of a lease proposal. Specifics of the process State Parks will follow for this second step will be determined in the coming months.

“We believe we have an obligation as the steward of this significant historic building to explore this lease proposal,” said Director Don Hoch. “It is unlikely that State Parks will receive sufficient capital funds to take care of the building, and the brokerage firm has expressed that its client has the means and willingness to make a significant investment. If we want to keep the proposal alive for further evaluation, we need to allow the client to occupy some part of the building relatively quickly.  So we want to do what we can to make that happen so we can explore the longer term potential.”
Hoch emphasized that all necessary and appropriate planning, permitting, environmental review and public involvement would need to be completed before the Commission could consider a long-term agreement.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at, and Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. Washington State Parks turned 100 years old on March 19, 2013. For information about events and activities, visit
Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Looking Forward

Over the last couple of weeks the focus of park users has shifted from contemplating what the land and buildings used to be into considering the possibilities of the future.  

Articles posted on the Crosscut and Everett Herald discussed State Parks' budgets as well as the possibility of an unnamed business executive expressing interest in funding the Saint Edward State Park seminary building renovations.  

Dan Matthews of Kidder Matthews attended the Friends of Saint Edward State Park (FOSESP) board of directors meeting on December 11th to introduce himself and begin an open dialogue with the community on the needs of park users and how a possible business tenant in the seminary building would affect life for park goers and neighbors.  Matthews asked specifically for a wishlist of what the community wants and needs so his client can include in a proposal.  

Heather Kaminsky, interim President of the FOSESP board of directors has issued a public statement this evening on behalf of the board:

"After meeting with Dan Matthews, the broker for a potential tenant for the seminary building, the Friends of Saint Edward State Park are excited to see what his clients will propose to the state for preservation and development of the building."
As there are no officials proposals submitted, FOSESP will refrain from making further statements for the time being. 

Any proposals given will pay special attention to the Classification and Management Plan (CAMP), a 43 page document finalized in 2008 between State Parks, community members, and city officials.  It concerns the park's management, zoning and boundaries, natural, cultural, and recreational facility resources, and other plans or uses regarding Saint Edward State Park. 
In January an open public meeting will be held at the Northshore Utility District Offices in Kenmore.   The purpose is to bring all stakeholders together to address any proposed use of the seminary building including community input.
5:00 pm to 8:00pm 

At this time, the expected time and location are:
Northshore Utility District
6830 NE 185th St
Kenmore, WA 98028

If time or locations change, we will update accordingly

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Interim President Heather Kaminsky

The next Friends of Saint Edward State Park board member to be highlighted is the Interim President Heather Kaminksy.

Heather's background in aquatics brought her to Saint Edward State Park for the first time in 2006 as a manager for the Carol Anne Wald Memorial Pool.  Her first memory is still vivid in her mind, "I will never forget the first time I drove down the driveway into the secluded world that is the park. It was like I was stepping back in time when things were slower and less hectic."

While Heather would say that she's an advocate for all recreation though her passion is fully experienced when there's a hint of chlorine in the air. She ran the pool and gym for both Northwest Center and West Coast Aquatics, as well as helped Advantage Basketball begin it's tenure using the gym facilities.   

Heather stepped into the President role this past summer, and her passion and enthusiasm is palpable at the board meetings.  She has helped push forward and finalize months worth of research by other board and community members into three new signs that will be placed soon in the park.  This project has been funded by 4Culture, an organization that allocates funds to groups who are working to preserve the history and culture of King County.

She's always quick to bring a smile and laugh to those who speak with her and is determined in her goals to make sure Saint Edward State Park is loved by all those who visit.  She will gladly talk til the cows come home about the parks' current projects, including the above mentioned signs, the new roofs being installed on a few of the bathroom facilities on the trails, and finding ways to acknowledge the endless work of the Park Rangers.

If you asked Heather what her favorite memories of the park are, she would hem and haw about how she can create a new favorite memory with each visit.  While that can't be doubted, a bit more prodding will get you a few more specific examples: Heather loves a good party!  She's hosted and attended many events on the Great Lawn including private weddings, several of the WABL BrewFestivals before they moved to Marymoore Park, as well almost every Concert in the Park this past summer.

Heather's main goal in her role of Interim President is to help park visitors realize just how many ways the park can be used and to encourage creative use of this beautiful secluded piece of land.  If you see her face at the park (you will often), conversation and questions are always welcome!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blog Introductions

Welcome to the Friends of Saint Edward State Park blog.

My name is Elizabeth Rutherford, and as of this summer, I have taken on the responsibilities of the Friends’ social media presence.  I had a bit of a crazy summer, and so while I have been posting for Facebook for some time this is my first blog post.

I figured I would start with a less formal self introduction, and over the next few weeks include highlights of other board members, featured projects, and other interest pieces as they come along.

Saint Edward State Park is one of my favorite places in the world.  It has been a place of employment: I was a lifeguard at the Carol Anne Wald Memorial Pool before it closed for good in 2009.  It has been a place to meet friends and reconnect, and most recently the place where I got married.  

I love to hike the trails with my husband and dog.  I love the concerts and festivals that I've attended on the Great Lawn.  I love the beautiful and religiously historical building.  

I am always in an internal struggle of wanting to talk non stop of the park, and keep it completely to myself.  Apparently I’ve given in, and I’ll be the voice behind most of the social media posts moving forward.  

I can be contacted via as well as through the Friends’ or my personal Facebook accounts.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Great Lawn

The Great Lawn is one of the original landscape features designed by architect John Graham. Located to the west of the main seminary building, it is maintained today as an area for public events and gatherings. Some of the best description of the area is contained in a report compiled by the National Park Service in 2006, Saint Edward Seminary Cultural Landscape Inventory Saint Edward State Park. Excerpts from this report follow.

Map showing the location of the Great Lawn

View of the Great Lawn from the main seminary building tower as seen today

"The great lawn area between the front of the main seminary building and the
slope to the lake was an area designed for very large gatherings and events. The May Day celebration brought hundreds of visitors to the property for services and oratory. 

May Day Celebration

The lawn, as described in the “spatial organization” section, was also a transition zone between the formal seminary area and the informal forest. It was used for passive recreation and circulation access to the trails of the forested slope. Circa 1960, a baseball diamond was sited on the Great lawn for more organized recreational activities."

View north along entry drive

"The great lawn area today well represents the historic character from the period of
significance. It is still used as a transitional walking area between the seminary building and the sloped forest and for other types of passive recreation including Tai-Chi, Frisbee, and other exercises and games. The establishment of the baseball diamond occurred after the period of significance, and is a compatible use. The groupings of trees have been converted to picnic areas including the addition of concrete slabs for immovable tables. Other, movable tables are scattered around the great lawn for flexible seating and dining arrangements. During the summer, a stage is set up next to one of the tree groupings for concerts and other events. Overall, the land use of the great lawn area retains integrity."

Great Lawn Panorama

"Informal style plantings in the great lawn area historically created shady areas and
emphasized the grand, picturesque character of the lawn space. Near the edge of the lawn, informal style plantings broke up the line of the forest edge and provide texture, merging the great lawn with the natural environment. Today, these informal groupings define a backdrop for the seasonal stage on the lawn and for the baseball diamond. Picnic tables and horseshoe pits have been placed in the shade of the tree groupings on the northwestern edge of the lawn."

Digital copies of this NPS report and others are available upon request.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Grand Dining Hall

One of the few remaining rooms within the seminary building that are still open for public use is the refectory.  Used as a dining hall during seminary days the room is currently maintained for public use. It may be rented by contacting the Park Manager.

The most current description of the room comes from an architectural report conducted by Bassetti Architects in 2007. 

"The dining room, north of the stair hall: The dining room, once known as the refectory, is a large room, approximately eighty by thirty feet, with concrete beams, decorative corbels and striking bronze chandeliers. Architecturally, it is defined by its scale and regular rhythm of large steel arched top windows on three sides. The floor and base are terrazzo, the walls plaster with a textured paint. A dais on the east side was the location of the priests’ tables. This may be a replacement, as it looks different from the original design (a thirty-five by twelve foot platform with steps at the corners and finished with a wood fascia, wood flooring and a wood base along the wall. A lectern (no longer there) on the west side was used for readings during meals. Student publications indicate that this room, as well as the recreation room below, was probably used for theatrical presentations and other activities."
                                     Source: Historic Structure Report, Bassetti Architects, 2007

Additional information is published in the park's brochure:

"Saint Edward Grand dining Hall is a large, graceful hall with polished tile floors, original chandeliers and arched windows, lending a felling of elegance to events such as weddings, receptions and reunions. The floor may be used for dancing, and there's a performance riser available. Event clients must provide their own catering, servers, linens, china and glassware. Chairs, tables and outdoor canopies are available for rent. The dining room has a maximum capacity of 50 people."
     Source: Your guide to Saint Edward State Park, (Brochure), P&R 45-87000-1 (07/12)

Dining Hall on left side of building.  View from the west.