The Discovery and Development of Lakewold
Emma transferred her lakeside property to her son, Hubbard Foster (H.F.) Alexander, and his wife, Ruth, in 1918. A shipping magnate, H.F. was president of Admiral Lines, one of America's largest passenger steamship companies. He and Ruth had a home in Tacoma at 5th and Yakima and used the house at Gravelly Lake as a country retreat. The Alexanders bought an adjoining 5-acre lot, creating the 10 acres that Lakewold enjoys today, and hired designers to lay out the home and gardens to capture views of Gravelly Lake and Mount Rainier. Ruth named the estate "Inglewood," and the family entertained at the lakeside estate with lawn parties and family weddings. An active garden club member in Tacoma, Ruth had a rose named for her, the climbing "Ruth Alexander."
A Country Retreat
In 1908, Emma Alexander knew a good piece of property when she saw it. Streetcars provided easier access to the Lakes District, and when Interlaaken was platted, Emma bought Lot 23 and built a small summer cabin on the property between 1910 and 1912. By 1913, the gardens were already locally famous, as the Tacoma Daily Register headlined "Nature-loving Tacomans Make Modern Arcady of Gravelly Lake's Shores" (11/30/1913).
The Olmsteds, one of America's most prestigious landscape design teams, developed many projects in the Seattle-Tacoma area in the early 1900s. It is believed that the Olmsted brothers influenced the design of the perimeter fence, gate (built between 1914 and 1918) and brick walkway. The wrought iron entrance gate, flanked by an eagle with wings spread on each gatepost, continues to welcome visitors today.
In 1925, Major Everett Griggs and his wife, Grace, purchased the property and renamed it "Lakewold," a Middle English term meaning "lake-woods."
The Making of a Horticulture Haven
In 1938, the Griggs sold Lakewold to George Corydon and Eulalie Wagner. The son of a prominent Tacoma physician, Everett was both the vice president and treasurer of the St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company, and president of the C.W. Griggs Investment Company and the Wilkeson Company, which was in coal production. Grace was the daughter of a prominent Seattle lumber family, the Merrills, and is well remembered for her dedication and her contributions to the practice of landscape gardening, epitomized by Lakewold Gardens. Corydon and Eulalie both loved being outdoors in the garden, and neighbors and family enjoyed parties at Lakewold.
In 1958 Thomas Church, one of America's finest landscape architects, came to Lakewold on his first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Church returned regularly to suggest refinements to the garden design, always stressing the importance of drawing people into the garden.
Mrs. Wagner continued to live at Lakewold after the death of her husband in 1978. Then in 1987, she donated the entire estate to a new non-profit organization, The Friends of Lakewold, with the stipulation that an endowment fund be raised to assure the continuing care of the gardens.
Lakewold Gardens officially opened on May 7, 1989. Mrs. Wagner stated her motivation clearly:
"As we become more and more city creatures, living in manmade surroundings, perhaps gardens will become even more precious to us, letting us remember that we began in the garden."
Eulalie Wagner died in 1991, but her dream remains with us at Lakewold Gardens.
Lakewold Gardens | 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest, Lakewood, WA 98499
Mailing Address | Post Office Box 39780, Lakewood, WA 98496
Phone | 253-584-4106
Spring/Summer/Fall Hours | 10 am to 5 pm Wed - Sun
Winter Hours (Nov - Mar) | 10 am to 4 pm Fri - Sun
This page is made possible, in part, by a City of Lakewood Lodging Tax Grant.