Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery

EVERGREEN-WASHELLI

From its first inhumation in 1884 to the present day, Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery has been a fixture in the Haller Lake area, even though its present name has not. At the time of the removal of most of the graves in Seattle’s original cemetery, presently the site of Denny Park on Denny Way and Dexter Avenue, to what is today Volunteer Park, David and Louisa Denny decided to move the body of their infant son to property which they owned. Thus the eastern portion of the Evergreen-Washelli graveyard originated as Oak Lake Cemetery, named after a body of water formerly in the vicinity of N. 107th St. and Midvale Ave N. Other Dennys followed, as did many of the bodies which had been interred at the original Washelli Cemetery at the present site of Volunteer Park. Not to be confused with the present Lake View Cemetery, which was established by Freemasons, the first Washelli Cemetery was municipally owned and was discontinued in 1887.

The Dennys operated Oak Lake Cemetery until David’s son, Victor, sold it in 1913 for $27,500. Its eventual owner, the American Necropolis Corporation, resurrected the Washelli name, a Makah Indian word meaning “west wind.” The company created an endowment fund from the sale of plots to facilitate maintenance of the cemetery. The Evergreen Cemetery Company took this idea a step further when it purchased land on the other side of the Pacific Highway in 1920 on property originally designated for housing development by ensuring that its endowment money would be used for cemetery maintenance after its graveyard had filled to capacity. The wrought iron fence which delineates its western boundary is a legacy of the Seattle-Everett Interurban which ran alongside. The former Interurban stop known as Groveland lined up with the turnstile still standing today situated in a break in the fence. Evergreen purchased Washelli in 1922, and the two cemeteries have been managed by one entity ever since.

Walking through Evergreen-Washelli, one notices a Veterans Memorial Cemetery which commenced in 1927, and various graveyards separated according to religion, ethnic group, and fraternal organization. A portion containing the remains of police officers and firefighters who have lost their lives heroically constitutes a civic memorial section. In 1998, Evergreen-Washelli received and re-dedicated the statue of the World War I doughboy which had been erected on the grounds of the Civic Auditorium seventy years before.