Seattle's Denny Hotel Cemetery

  • By Laura Angotti
  • Posted 11/02/1998
  • Essay 2044
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Seattle's first cemetery was located on what became the grounds of the Denny Hotel in downtown Seattle at 2nd Avenue and Stewart Street. The first burial took place in 1853 and the last probably in 1860. Burials were made informally without charge for land or any other thing. About 20 bodies were buried here, and most were later removed to the Seattle cemetery, a municipal cemetery located on the present site of Denny Park, just east of the Space Needle.

Because of its location on the future site of the Denny Hotel, it is called the Denny Hotel Cemetery although of course it was not called that at the time.

In 1898, workers at the Denny Hotel uncovered two Indian graves, recognizable as such by the burial goods with the bodies. This discovery created a rush of treasure hunters to plunder whatever remained in the graves.

In response to an inquiry from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1898, the Seattle pioneer Arthur Denny (1822-1899) recalled that "Seattle's first burying ground for the whites was located on the Denny Hotel grounds, about where Stewart Street crosses Second Avenue. We buried there for several years, and also during the Indian War. Burials there were commenced as early as 1853 and continued as late as 1860."

Mr. Denny added that the graves of the settlers were removed when the graveyard was abandoned, but many of the graves had been neglected and some were not found at the time of the removals. He expected that those would still be there. Mr. Denny indicated that he had no knowledge of Indian graves at the site.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a number of businesses occupy the site of the Denny Hotel, including the historic Moore Theater and the Josephinium Residence, formerly the Josephinium Hotel.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 8, 1898; Thomas Prosch, "A Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897" (typescript dated 1900-1901), Northwest Collection, University of Washington Library, 154; Editors Black Book Seattle Directory 1876.

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