At the crest of Capitol Hill, next to the beautiful Volunteer Park, we find historic Lakeview Cemetery. Founded in 1872 as the Seattle Masonic Cemetery, it quickly became the preferred place of interment for Seattle’s most prestigious pioneering families.
Over time the cemetery has grown organically to combine the heritage of different faiths and ethnicities.
Alongside traditional Christian crosses, we find the rigid symmetry of the Chinese.
Simple stone monoliths are accompanied by ornate offerings laden with hidden meaning.
Classic formal designs offset graves with decidedly more iconoclastic representations of the departed.
Even a hoary chestnut of an epitaph finds at least one buyer.
One grave appears to have replicated the deceased’s favorite bathtub. Another represents the great man in his best gardener’s jacket with his favorite tool and best friend.
In a cemetery this old, the vegetation has had time to grow and add distinction to its surroundings. The Phinneys chose a Camperdown Elm to provide a shapely cover over their family plot.
They also appear to have hung a grave for a family member with feathers.
An elegant Japanese maple adds its gnarled feng shui. A Mason sculpts an entire tree trunk and uses its to hang lodge symbols.
A well-placed azalea bush puts Sunday bouquets and plastic flowers to shame.
The statue is an ever-popular element. Some uses them to express religious devotion, however peculiar its manifestation.
As the years pass, erosion and oblivion take hold. The lines blur between celestial madonnas, grieving mothers, and children buried by their parents. Perhaps that line was never actually clear.
Others make simpler statements. This person liked birds.
Two large mausoleums stand as paeans to conformity, thriftiness, or perhaps run of the mill lives ending in 9-5 deaths. Flower receptacles distinguish the remembered from the forgotten. The fountain brings us back to life.
Among the commoners lies buried nobility. A menhir marks the resting place of Princess Angeline, née Kick-is-om-lo. There are many stories here: the daughter of Chief Sealth, friendship with several of the original pioneer families, a devout convert to Christianity, a Seattle resident even after her people were exiled to the reservation, a life in relative poverty, a laundrywoman and weaver of baskets sold on the city streets and eventually in another Seattle landmark, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Eventually a death in her seventies, a funeral with some public fanfare and a last burial near the family plot of Yeslers.
Lakeview Cemetery’s most famous resident, however, can only be found through Jeet Kune Do: flowing like water, plus a bit of luck.
Bruce and his son Brandon are buried side by side, both victims of untimely deaths.
We were surprised to learn that Bruce finished high school in Seattle, and also attended the University of Washington and met his future wife there. It was in Seattle where he opened his first martial arts school and where he famously took down a black-belt karateka in eleven seconds. So while not exactly a native son, he’s more of a Seattleite than most of us.
The complete Flickr set.