West Seattle treasure for sale: Walker Rock Garden (and home)

January 17, 2011 at 10:34 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

rhondawalkerphoto.jpg

(Photo courtesy of Rhonda Porter)
If you would be interested in living in and caring for what has to be the most unusual home/garden pairing in West Seattle today – Lita has an offer for you. She e-mailed WSB to share the news that the Walker Rock Garden and Home are for sale:

I am the granddaughter of Milton and Florence Walker, the creators of the Walker Rock Garden (located at 5407 37th Ave SW, West Seattle). We (my aunt, cousin, and myself) are placing the Walker Rock Garden and Home for sale as we can longer maintain it. … We’re hoping to drum up interest amongst locals and ultimately find someone whose heart lies in keeping the garden healthy and happy (and hopefully allowing the public to still visit).

The Walker Rock Garden, created by Lita’s grandparents over the span of 20 years, is one of those places you have to see to appreciate. Photos do hint at its memorable sights – here’s a gallery shared by Lita; here’s one by Rhonda “The Mortgage Porter” Porter (WSB sponsor). Others who have written about it include Lori Hinton in “West Seattle 101 and West Seattle-based online entrepreneur/eclectica expert Jerry at JetCityOrange.com (his page about Walker Rock Garden is here).

The site is not an official landmark, so there’s no official guarantee of its protection. Lita shared this official flyer; we asked her a few followup questions such as asking price (not mentioned on the flyer, nor could we find a listing online) and whether they’ll have an open house – we’ll add her answers when they come in.

ADDED 8:50 PM: Lita replied:

The property will be listed on the MLS near the start of February and the price has yet to be determined. However, we wanted to get the word out so anyone interested in preserving can start to look at their finances. Also, because we do not yet know who the next owners will be, this very well could be the last year the garden will be open, so come check it out before it is too late. The hours can be found at walkerrockgarden.net.

She says they will not be requesting an official agreement that the buyer would preserve the rock garden.

21 Comments

  1. Nice

    Comment by Patrick — 12:56 pm January 17, 2011 #

  2. I’ve lived here my entire life and never heard of this until today. I’ll have to check it out. Wish I could afford it.

    Comment by Glenda — 3:27 pm January 17, 2011 #

  3. Someone will love that amazing magical place. If you’ve never seen it, perhaps an Open House will be a good chance before it’s sold.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 3:42 pm January 17, 2011 #

  4. The garden is one of the most charming and unusual spots in all of Seattle – not just West Seattle. I’m sorry the owners are selling, but I thank them for maintaining the garden over all these years. It would be unthinkable for the new owners to mess with it.

    Comment by Sonoma — 5:38 pm January 17, 2011 #

  5. This is an absolutely beautiful place — and has been well maintained. I wish I could buy this home, just wonderful!

    Comment by Kip — 5:55 pm January 17, 2011 #

  6. My parents took me to this garden when I was a kid! You can lose yourself in imagination when you walk through. Hopefully, this place will find owners like the Walkers that will keep the garden alive because it really is a magical place.

    Thanks for keeping us posted, and good luck on finding great owners who deserve a great treasure that this home truly is!

    Comment by Gerrard — 6:06 pm January 17, 2011 #

  7. C’mon DP, if thIs isn’t calling your name, you aren’t listening…

    Comment by JayDee — 6:12 pm January 17, 2011 #

  8. Seems like the perfect spot for the West Seattle Blog to headquarter from….

    Comment by Fiona — 7:27 pm January 17, 2011 #

  9. Beautiful place, but we can’t even find the time to maintain a couple square yards of garden, let alone something like this! The perfect buyer must be out there somewhere … TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:36 pm January 17, 2011 #

  10. Thanks for all the great comments – just a note from Lita, granddaughter of Milton and Florence Walker: I grew up here when I was younger, and have beautiful memories of….PULLING WEEDS of all things! (I pretended I was Cinderella!) For families out there with kids, this is a magical place to grow up; it’s an amazing place to foster a vivid imagination.

    Comment by Lita — 8:53 pm January 17, 2011 #

  11. Make it a public “pocket park”?

    Comment by AJP — 9:07 pm January 17, 2011 #

  12. i sure hope i can get to see it before it changes hands. i have always meant to stop by. it would be beyond sad if appropriate owners can’t be found. There is a similar home in Tuscon that a rockhound spent decades building up. when he died, i believe he left it to the botanical gardens and they will maintain it (also had lots of cool cactus growing among the rocks).

    Comment by B-squared — 7:43 am January 18, 2011 #

  13. I never even knew this place existed… where have I been? It is awesome! I’ve been to a few of the West Seattle Garden Tours and this place would have been a nice addition to it. We’ll be sure to take a tour before it’s sold. I hope the new owners plan to maintain it or better yet, expand upon it. Simply fabulous!

    Comment by sun*e — 9:24 am January 18, 2011 #

  14. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    this is such a wonderful labor of love to tour. I took my Mom there for Mother’s Day and we enjoyed it. I hope that maybe it will be open a little earlier this year so us diehards can enjoy it one last time.

    Comment by renaissancered — 10:37 am January 18, 2011 #

  15. This is right down the street from our house. I would LOVE to own this place. It’s my dream. I don’t think it’s possible, but I’m willing to look into it. Here’s a post I did on it in ’09 with a lot of photos if you’re interested:
    http://www.shelterrific.com/2009/06/29/backyard-travels-the-walker-rock-garden/

    Comment by Mary T — 11:57 am January 18, 2011 #

  16. @B-Squared, from the looks of things and from what we were able to find out from chatting with the tenant (not sure he’s still there), no one was really maintaining the place. I believe for liability issues they had to dissolve whatever group was involved in keeping it up, and obviously unless you have a real love for gardening LIKE ME ME ME it would be a chore. There’s also a section that was closed to the public that looked like a steep hill.

    Comment by Mary T — 11:58 am January 18, 2011 #

  17. Agree with AJP that Walker Rock Garden would make a nice “pocket park.” Only problem with that is there’d be a risk of vandalism if it was totally open to the public.
    .
    It would be even better if the City could buy it and protect it as a landmark, like they did with Kubota Gardens. Open to the public for tours, maybe.
    .
    Speaking of . . . my mom sent me a card on my 50th birthday that said:
    .
    Congratulations! You have just been designated by Congress as a NATIONAL TREASURE.
    .
    (Unfortunately, no funds have been allocated for your maintenance.)

    Comment by DP — 12:34 pm January 18, 2011 #

  18. The Walker Rock Garden for many years used to be a scheduled event for West Seattle Hi-Yu royalty during their summer festival. I am sorry to hear it is being sold, but hopefully the new owners will have the time/passion/$$ to maintain the garden and add to it. If you have a chance to go visit – DO! It is amazing.

    Comment by DS — 9:33 am January 20, 2011 #

  19. The daughter of the creator has been caring for the garden the last several years. But they don’t live in the city and with age, its been harder for her to care for it. Its been rented to tennants in the past who helped with some of the up keep. But mostly its been a labor of love for the family. Sadly, that time is coming to an end. And with a lovely double lot, some developer for sure will come in and demo the place to make money.

    Comment by geroge — 1:25 pm January 20, 2011 #

  20. @ george – This is exactly what we hope does not happen. It would truly break our hearts. We’ve been receiving promising interest by fellow garden & rock lovers, so hopefully the stars will all align and we’ll find the perfect next-owners & caretakers for this treasure. If you are correct in your prediction, it would be a piece of culture Seattle would really miss.

    Comment by Lita — 10:42 am January 21, 2011 #

  21. Seattle jewelry artist Nancy Worden and a group of other interested individuals, responded to Florence Walker’s request for assistance back in the mid-90′s and a group formed, with a lot of work and expense, to become “Friends of the Walker Rock Garden”.

    I don’t recall all the details, but remember that Florence and others in her family, resented the group and somehow got it in their minds that this non-profit organization was out to “steal” the rock garden.

    At her request, this fundraising, preservation and advocacy group was disbanded.

    I have some photos and an old video taken a few years ago for Unusual Life

    Comment by Marlow Harris — 4:16 pm January 22, 2011 #

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