Dunn Gardens,
Seattle, WA
Dunn Gardens
Seattle, Washington
USA

The grounds of the Dunn family’s summer estate were designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in 1916. 

Dunn Gardens, situated just north of Seattle, was originally the country estate of Arthur and Jeannette Dunn. 

While the Olmsted Brothers firm was working on public projects in Seattle, many wealthy businessmen hired the well-known firm to design the grounds of their private estates. In 1914, salmon cannery owner Arthur G. Dunn and his wife Jeanette purchased 10-acres of land in what is now the Broadview neighborhood. The following year, the Dunns hired Olmsted Brothers to locate a cottage and develop a landscape plan to surround their future summer home.

In the 1916 plan, firm member James Frederick Dawson embraced the beauty of the place, creating a landscape that offered curving paths and incredible views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Native conifers and eastern hardwoods, coupled with sweeping lawns, embodied the Olmsted philosophy of designing with nature. Born and raised on the East Coast, Dunn loved the East Coast hardwoods and asked that they be worked into the garden’s design and plant mix. A hundred years later, most of his favorite hardwoods still create focal points and visual structures in the gardens. 

Dunn’s death in 1945 spurred a series of changes. This included the removal and replacement of the original summer house and the development of a two-and-a-half-acre woodland garden designed by son Edward Bernard Dunn. Ed Dunn also converted the garage into a cottage, where he lived until his death in 1992. Despite these changes, the Olmsted landscape remains intact. 

In 1993, the E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust was created to open the place up for public enjoyment. The property is a Washington State Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. 

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    Ed's Cottage in September. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Wisteria, Ed's Cottage in May. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Alternate plan for driveway turnaround. Image courtesy of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

    Early house designs for Dunn Gardens. Image courtesy of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

    Stone steps in the Dunn Garden. Photo by Anne Knight.

    Summer from Dorothy's Border. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Great Lawn in August. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Design variations for Dunn Gardens. Image courtesy of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

    Hydrageneas on Tennis Green in July. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Magnolia Kobus Heather Bank in March. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Fir Islands on Great Lawn in July. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Early plantings plan for Dunn Gardens. Image courtesy of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

    Pacific Coast Iris Hybrids. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

    Autumn in the Woodland Glen. Photo courtesy of Dunn Gardens.

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Shared Spaces

Visit Dunn Gardens

Join the Olmsted Network for tour and lunch at the historic Dunn Gardens in Seattle, WA. We’ll explore the magnificent grounds together— with history and horticulture experts leading the way— before gathering for a boxed lunch and conversation.
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