BY KATIE KNIGHT PRUIT & TERRY PRUIT.
In October, we know Maple Park Avenue as a go to place in the neighborhood to take in some fall color. A little gem among the city’s green spaces year-round, for a few weeks each year the tree lined parkway becomes a local mecca for folks seeking to capture a moment of fall brilliance. We know Maple Park, but why do we have this lovely little space?
In 1871, Hazard Stevens platted the Maple Park Addition to the City of Olympia. The centerpiece of the plat was its namesake, a 76 foot wide by 1140 long maple lined park. After his service in the Civil War and completing the first documented summit of Mount Rainier in 1870, Stevens returned to Olympia where he had lived when his father Isaac Stevens was the controversial first governor of the Washington Territory. As part of the deal to create the park, the City committed to pay for the planting of 100 maple trees, which Stevens planted in the park himself. For a hundred years the park retained its platted dimensions which created an ideal spot for a few holes of golf. And in 1899, it briefly became the home of Olympia’s first golf course. Later in the early part of the 20th century, the park hosted summer concerts at a bandstand in the park. By the 1920’s Maple Park had become a popular residential street with homes lining the park on both sides.
As the east capitol campus developed in the late 1950’s, all the homes located on the north side of the park were demolished or moved. The state took over management of Maple Park in the late 1960’s and the roads surrounding the park were expanded to make way for street parking and campus traffic flow. Tragic to the many, the beloved maples were cut in the early 1970’s, but replanted for us all to enjoy today 50 years later. The state continues to manage the park, maintaining the lawns, the beautiful maples, and creating the best fall leaf piles in all Olympia.
If you have stories about Maple Park’s history. We’d love to hear them!