Martha Washington School

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 3/21/2001
  • Essay 3117
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From 1900 to 1971, the Martha Washington School for Girls provided resident supervision for delinquent girls, first on Queen Anne Hill, then on Mercer Island, and finally on property at Brighton Beach on Lake Washington originally owned by Juvenile Court Judge Everett T. Smith (1862-1933). The state of Washington assumed control of the school in 1957 and operated it until 1971, when it closed. The site is now the Martha Washington Park.

The school site was originally the home of Judge Smith who built "Morningside" on five acres he had purchased from John Wilson in 1889. Wilson received the property from Asa Mercer (1839-1917) in 1867 as payment for a $1500 loan that Wilson made to Mercer in 1863 when Mercer was stranded in San Francisco with his cargo of Mercer Girls. Smith built a home with a nursery and a boat house. He also built a hollow stairway to an enormous Madrona tree on the property.

In 1900, Maj. Cicero Newell, his wife Emma Cicero (d.1916), and the Woman's Century Club founded the Parental School for Boys and Girls in the Queen Anne area. The institution served as a reform school. The school moved to Mercer Island in 1903, then back to Seattle in 1914.

Judge Smith sold the property to the Seattle School District in 1920 for the Martha Washington School for girls. Smith had been active on and off the bench as an advocate for troubled youth. The school built a classroom and dorm building in 1921 and added a dorm and a gymnasium in 1930. The school kept the Morningside greenhouse, boathouse, and caretaker's residence.

In 1957, the state of Washington assumed control of the school and operated it until 1971, when it closed. The property was sold to the City of Seattle in 1972. Seattle maintains the site as the Martha Washington Park. It is located at 6612 57th Avenue S.


Don Sherwood, "M. Washington School Site," Interpretive Essays on the History of Seattle Parks, Handwritten bound manuscript dated 1977, Seattle Room, Seattle Public Library; Paul Dorpat, "Morningside," Seattle Now and Then, Vol. I (Seattle: Tartu Publications, 1984); "Martha Washington Park," Seattle Parks and Recreation Website, (; "Woman's Century Club," Metropedia Library, (

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