School children name Seattle's Powell Barnett Park in 1969.

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 8/22/2001
  • Essay 3505
See Additional Media

In 1969, the children at the Leschi Elementary School name Powell Barnett Park, located in Seattle on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between E Jefferson and E Alder streets. The park is named for Powell Barnett (1883-1971), the organizer, community leader, and first president of the Leschi Improvement Council.

The 4.4-acre park was originally chosen by the City Planning Commission as the East Junior High School Site. It was developed as a running track and athletic field for Garfield High School.

In 1962, Garfield had obtained a track closer to the school and in 1966 the property was sold to the Park Department. Playground improvements were made through the Central Area Motivation Project in 1967, based upon a design by landscape architect William Talley.

Park visitors and motorists driving along the busy arterial adjacent to it will notice first the unusual castle structure that houses the restrooms near the colorful climbers and sandlot on the southwest corner. The contoured grassy grounds are shaded by pine, oak, and maple trees. A long, circling path awaits walkers in search of quiet relaxation. The hilltop on the southeast corner offers benches and a lovely view.

Between May 12 and May 16, 2006, hundreds of community volunteers and volunteers from Starbucks contributed to a massive makeover of the Powell Barnett Park. In work that under ordinary circumstances would have taken months to complete, a new play area was installed and paths, entryways, the playfield, the restroom, and the basketball court were renovated. Plazas were installed with benches, BBQ areas, and gaming tables.

For this project the Pro Parks Levy Opportunity Fund provided $250,000 and the Starbucks Parks Fund provided $550,000.


Mary T. Henry, Tribute; Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997); "Powell Barnett Park," Seattle Parks and Recreation website accessed on February 1, 2007 (
Note: This essay was updated on February 1, 2007.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You