Lynn Mandyke, Friends of Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens Volunteer, No Phone Number Available
Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9 a.m.
One of the primary reasons many of us live in Spokane is the wide variety of weekly events and activities throughout the region.
One special annual event of interest to gardeners and history buffs alike takes place Thur., Sept. 26, with the Friends of the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens fundraiser, “Help Put the Gardens to Bed.”
This event is a fundraiser for the Friends group and as an opportunity for everyone to take an end-of-season stroll through these wonderful Gardens.
The Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens, located adjacent to Edwidge Woldson Park on Spokane’s near South Hill, were established in 1889 and maintained until 1932 as residential gardens by the Moore and Turner families.
In 1889 Frank Rockwood Moore (1852-1895) and his wife Sarah Frances Sherlock Moore purchased a section of the South Hill’s wooded hillside, 525 West Seventh Avenue, and hired Kirtland Cutter to design their home. Drawn to Seventh Avenue’s panoramic views of Spokane, the Moore’s prominent two-and-one-half story home was a combination of architectural styles and featured a sweeping front lawn and drive. During the construction of the home – the future site of the Heritage Gardens – the north-facing hillside was cleared and then replanted with young trees.
Before his death in 1895, Mr. Moore served as the first president of Washington Water Power Company, held investments in Idaho mines and Spokane area real estate, and with James Glover, established the First National Bank. Mr. Moore is attributed with constructing the series of hillside terraces, basalt rock retaining walls, and well house.
U.S. Senator George Turner (1850-1932) and his wife Bertha Dreher Turner took possession of the house and its grounds in 1896. A prominent political figure, Judge Turner (as he wished to be called) was a member of the state’s Constitutional Convention of 1889, served as a Washington State Supreme Court Justice, was appointed an international arbiter by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, and in his private law practice was an authority on corporation and mining law. In 1895, Judge Turner added to his real estate and mining investments a partnership in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The Turners hired Portland landscape architect Hugh Bryan in 1911 to make improvements to the gardens. Prominent structures and features in the arts-and-crafts style of garden design were added to the original Victorian-influenced garden. The two-tiered pergola, arbor, tea house, and water features as well as the conservatory and greenhouses were incorporated into the basalt-faced terraces and staircases. Headlines from an Oct. 20, 1911 Spokane Daily Chronicle article described that carloads of flowers, bushes, shrubbery, and trees were planted and noted the perennial garden as the largest in the northwest.
Over the years the Gardens served as a spectacular location for summer parties and events that flourished until Judge Turner’s death in 1932. Coinciding with the Depression of the 1930’s, the property was acquired by the bank holding the Turner’s outstanding mortgage. After unsuccessful attempts to sell and auction the home, it was demolished in 1940.
Untended for 58 years, the Gardens were reclaimed by nature. They were “re-discovery” in 1998 during the massive cleanup following Ice Storm. The subsequent removal of hundreds of downed trees and brush exposed cultivated plants and a variety of stone architectural elements on the site.
Using these clues, Parks and Recreation staff did extensive research and led a community master planning process to restore the Gardens. With grant funding and community donations, the initial restoration process began in April 2005 to rescue the rose arbor and perennial garden staircases. Myrtle Woldson funded the remaining restoration of the Gardens on Dec. 29, 2005 in honor of her mother, Edwidge Woldson.
Today, the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens are owned and operated by the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department. The adjoining Daniel Chase Corbin property to the east and the Moore-Turner property were purchased by the Spokane Park Board in 1945 to form Pioneer Park, which was renamed Edwidge Woldson Park in 2010. The Heritage Gardens are listed on the local and state historic registers and situated in the Marycliff/Cliff Park Historic District.
The event: Thursday, Sept. 26, 5 – 8 p.m., Corbin Art Center - 507 W. 7th Avenue and the adjacent Gardens. Members $5, non-members $10.