Home of Future Landscaping Improvements


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 a grant from the Peach Foundation we are already underway, beginning with the beds at the east end of the reservoir, including those surrounding the lily ponds and the terraced lawns facing the western views. This project will serve as a demonstration of the Olmsteds' style of planting. We will continue this work around both eastern shoulders of the reservoir, replanting the formal center of Volunteer Park and leading to our next project.


Reservoir Plan Sketch


As part of the restoration of core features of John Charles Olmsted’s1908-09 park design, a high priority is to re-landscape degraded areas surrounding the reservoir.  The original design featured an unobstructed axial view from the central concourse west toward the city, Sound and Olympic Mountains. This will again become the “Sunset Promenade” and recapture the experience enjoyed by city residents who took the 15th Avenue trolley uphill to Volunteer Park to hear music in the bandstand, walk around the reservoir, and view the sunset from benches arrayed along its west edge. Like us, they enjoyed panoramas across the great reservoir reflecting pool, unmarred by chain link fence, graffiti, overgrown shrubs and weedy trees. We intend to bring back this magnificent space for the pleasure of today’s park users.

The Water Tower


A key project is restoration of Volunteer Park’s iconic Water Tower, which includes restoring framed vistas in all directions from the observation deck and improving plantings at the base after lead-tainted soil is replaced. Through careful tree management, the Trust aims to recapture lost views from what was at one time the best viewpoint in Seattle, with its magnificent panorama of downtown, Lake Union, Lake Washington, Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains from the very heart of the city. We will also work with Seattle Parks and Recreation to replant the lush gardens surrounding the Water Tower. Visitors who have braved the 105 steps to the top know the tower itself also needs attention, including improved lighting to make it a safer, more welcoming beacon to the city.

Safety & Lighting


To help visitors feel safe and welcome in Volunteer Park we will look at ways to open lines of sight and improve illumination. We will address ambient lighting throughout the park, while being sensitive to history and how new lighting impacts the neighborhood.

In addition, we will review ways to open and improve park green spaces. Part of this plan is to restore the lawns and greenswards – a famous feature of all Olmsted landscapes. This includes restoring the flow of lawns around the bandstand down to green strolling areas along the western border of the park. We will address areas that are over-grown (often with invasive plants) and support extensive tree restoration as well as large shrub borders that create a safe yet airy evergreen retreat from city life, allowing everyone to experience the restoring effects of nature.

Performance Space

performance space Redesign:

We have received a grant to help us kick off a project to replace Volunteer Park’s aging stage with a new performance space. The money will go to the development of a conceptual design for a new performance space to replace the masonry stage that has served the parks since the early ’70s.

Learn more about the project >
Read more about our grant announcement on the Capitol Hill Blog >