Community Post

CD Rewind: Collins Field House

Vintage Seattle had a cool post today that asked about the location and history of Collins Field House. One of their commenters provided the answer: it was in the CD.

The building and its playfields took up the entire 2 blocks bordered by 14th & 16th and S. Washington St. & S. Main St. The property is now owned by the adjacent Seattle Buddhist Church, and King County’s online records don’t go back far enough to say when it was sold to them. The mind boggles at why the city would ever sell such a huge tract of park land to someone else.

As for the building itself, there’s still a bit of a mystery.  A photo below shows it still on the park property in 1965. The Seattle archives has another photo that mentions “Field House Moved to Garfield upon construction of Recreation Center.” (Note: YeslerWay points out below that the photo is of an older & smaller structure that predated the later Collins Field House)Assuming that means the Garfield school campus, does anyone know where it went and what became of it?

This shot from 1917 shows the field house with “Mr. Ben Evans’ first car” parked in front:

This 1949 photo of kids playing shows how diverse the CD has always been:

And here’s a birds-eye view of the park and surrounding area, supposedly from 1965:

A commenter at Vintage Seattle also dug up a hand-written map that describes the park, field house, and some local history of its namesake.  Here’s a transcript:


Playground named for John Collins, pioneer & mayor, who in 1845 came to Maine from Ireland at age 10, to work in Pope & Talbot mills there.  Transferring their operations to Puget Sound, Collins became manager of Port Gamble Mill in 1857.   Also became manager of company hotel, the Teekelet.  

Bought into the “Seattle (Occidental) Hotel” (adjacent to Pioneer Square) in 1867, became sole owner by 1882, rebuilt it into town’s leading hotel & center of festivities as well as stronghold against Anti-Chinese rioters; rebuilt after 1889 Fire to decline upon shift of city center northward; final razing in 1960 for parking garage.

Collins invested in newspaper, Leary-Collins Land Co. (Duwamish Tidal flats), Peoples’ Savings Bank, Denny-Renton Clay & Coal Co, first Gas plant -1874- (near King St. & 4th Ave S.) to replace kerosene lights & fish oil.  Upon organization of City government in 1869 was elected to City Council remaining for 3 terms, then elected Mayor in 1877; created city Water Works; member of Territ. Legisl. 1883-4.  Helped fund Territ. Univ. 


  • L.I.D. 1929: $843.
  • Wading pool 1931: gift of Mrs. Collins (Replaced exit. pool.) $1,250
  • 1 Belly bar
  • 1 Miracle Whirl
  • 1 Parallel Bar
  • 1 Hoizontal Bar
  • 18 Swings
  • 2 Tetherball
  • 1 Sand Box


Washington St. named by “Doc” Maynard in honor of George Washington.

Main St. named by Maynard because he intended it to be the main street on his plot.


  • Purch. in 1905 (G.F. $22,000).  3.1 Acres.  212-16th Ave So. 
  • Was first supervised playground in city 1907 by J. Howard Stine who became 1st Director of Recreation (No playgrounds prior to 1900). 
  • Was first Library station in P.G-1909 (Children’s Extension Service)
  • Recreation Center constr. 1912 – “A – 3rd in city $27,000 ’10 BF
  • Bym (+ stage): 50’x70′ = 500 persons.  showers/lockers
  • Club Rm. 2@ 14’x22′  2@22’x27′

0 thoughts on “CD Rewind: Collins Field House

  1. Hey Scott, I did not find the 1965 aerial shot you got when I researched for my postings on Vintage Seattle, so cool find on that one. I never even knew there had been a park in that location. Maybe we should see if the city would purchase it back for a new Dog Park in the area!

    I think the field house in the other link (dated 1908) you found was a smaller structure that pre-dated the recreation center that was built in 1912. If it was moved to the Garfield HS campus it likely may have been demolished when Garfield HS was built in 1920. The other possibility is it might have been on what is now the Barnett Park site (MLK & Jefferson/Alder) because I read at one time that park used to the be the Track and Field for Garfield HS before becoming Barnett Park.

  2. Good catch on the older photo. I didn’t notice the mismatch in dates.

    Another commenter at Vintage Seattle says that the Collins playfield was let go after Forward Thrust funded Pratt Park a few blocks east of there. God forbid if the CD had two big parks close to eachother…

  3. You mention the diversity of the CD. Has anyone ever read any of Mary Bards books?

    She was the sister of Betty MacDonald, and she raised her family in the CD in the 40’s with her doctor husband. In one of her books – I think it was called “Just Be Yourself” – she talks about having the first integrated Brownie troop in Seattle, and the demographics of the neighborhood at the time. Very fun reading.

  4. Hello Darsie,

    I guess you are Betty MacDonald’s and Mary Bard’s nephew.
    Did you know that there is a Betty MacDonald Fan Club with many international members?
    Youngest sister Alison Bard tells the most delightful stories about family life in Seattle in a Cd & DVD interview.
    There are very interesting biographical books and stories written by author Wolfgang Hampel. Wolfgang Hampel describes CD and Mary Bard’s experiences there.