O.O. Denny Park and The New Deal

O.O. Denny Park and The New Deal

In 1922, the Denny family donated their summer estate on Lake Washington, now known as O.O. Denny Park, to the City of Seattle for a public park.  For several years, local residents tried to get Seattle to provide some improvements, but little was done.  In 1926, the Navy decided to develop an air station on what is now known as Sandpoint.  At that time, the area was called Carkeek Park and housed a City Park Department overnight camp, however, the Navy purchased a replacement site for the camp on Puget Sound. The City did not want a camp on tidal water, so they moved all their buildings, facilities and the camp across the lake to O.O. Denny Park.

As part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civil Conservation Corps was formed in 1933.  One of the first units, Company 935 (State Parks #6), was composed of 188 local youths who reported in at Fort Lawton.  Their first assignment was to improve the new Carkeek Park on Puget Sound.  They were young men, 18-24 years old, whose parents were on relief.  They were paid $30 per month.  Of the $30, the youths had to send home $25 for the family.  Other CCC units, which were formed later, consisted of veterans from World War I.  Some of the CCC youths from Company 935 were moved to O.O. Denny Park to form what they called a “spike camp.”  Here they lived and worked for several months.  They cleared land and built trails and bridges throughout the park.

Another program of Roosevelt’s New Deal was the WPA (Works Progress Administration, later called  the Works Projects Administration).  Under this program, money was provided for work on public facilities. The program required that over 90% of the workers must be taken from the unemployment roles to work on the project.  In 1936, under this program, the log seawall and log bridge were built.  Also a wooden frame restroom and a stone cook stove covered by a roof were constructed and several other existing structures were restored.  This construction came to an end with the advent of World War II.

Source: From the Archives of George Ploudre

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Photos of Camp Denny structures in the park, ostensibly taken in 1936.

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Camp Denny just visible through the trees.

This map shows the placement of camp grounds and structures in the park.  At the top of this map, but not included, it reads: “In 1936 WPA built trails, seawall, log barn & picnic shelter. (Shelter removed in 1970).”

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