Building Community

Madrona’s History

For a great introduction to Madrona’s neighborhood history, see the online encyclopedia of Washington State History at

Life-long Madrona resident and local historian Junius Rochester authored a history of the Madrona and Denny Blaine neighborhoods titled, “The Last Electric Trolley“.

The area known as Madrona was first platted in 1889 as the Cascade Addition by realtors who had begun to explore the beach lands around the City of Seattle.  The neighborhood was named by John Ayer after the Madrona (arbutus) trees that were seen (although not as prominent as one would think) in the area along the beach.  A year later in 1890, The Randell family, Georg and Emma were the first to settle in Madrona and make it their home.  They did this near what is now 34th Avenue and Union Street at the highest point in the neighborhood.  The “Randell Additions” became the core of Madrona hill properties.  As real estate in the area began to thrive, realtors came across a common problem-the homes were far from town.  Thus, an idea was inspired to create a sales pitch that could be incorporated into a “Sunday Outing”.  J.D. Lowman decided to develop a park on the lakefront where the real estate tour would end.  In 1890, a private electric trolley line was developed.  It began at 34th and Union, then moved north towards Howell and on through a wooded area to Madrona Park.    As tours continued, Lowman’s company continued to develop the park with a boat dock, benches and paths along the shoreline with a number of “rustic shelters”.    Once the park was completed, a contributing party, J.E. Ayer named the park.  By 1892, a boathouse, hotel and refreshment stand were added to the beach, along with a wharf and warehouse with service tracks for fright cars to make sure the trolley remained profitable during weekdays and winter.  Because the trolley was predominately a real estate venture, it was not well built and the concept of “trolley parks” eventually died off.  In 1908, Madrona Park was sold to the city, which included the trolley wharf and warehouse.    In the early 1900’s, working-class homes were built rapidly.  The first “Great Homes” with lake views were built on the top of Madrona on 35th Avenue, which attracted many “old Seattle” families.

The Madrona News also publishes personal histories about Madrona, titled “I Remember When…”. Recent topics include:

Madrona Today: Neighborhood Appreciation Day

Each year, in conjunction with Neighborhood Appreciation Day, sponsored by the city of Seattle, Madrona takes a moment to honor the most special Madrona neighbors and recognize them for the good things they do. Nominations are made by members of the community and winners selected by the Madrona Community Council.

To nominate someone, simply send a couple of paragraphs about your deserving nominee to the Madrona Community Council president.

The Nora Award

Named in honor of Madrona activist Nora Wood, this award is given to a Madrona resident who, over time and in ways both large and small, has left a personal mark on the community.

  • 2013: Maureen Bekemeyer
  • 2012: Soni Dave-Schock, Nikola Davidson, and
  • Kim Herber
  • 2011: Audrey Seale
  • 2010: Rich Appleton
  • 2009: Carla Caldwell,
  • 2008: Sarah Westneat
  • 2007: Bill Hanson
  • 2006: Walter Bodel
  • 2005: Suzanne Sheppard
  • 2004: John Platt & Paul Butler
  • 2003: Bob Bass
  • 2002: Jim Diers
  • 2001: Mary Holm
  • 2000: Jerry Arbes & Anne Knight
  • 1999:  none
  • 1998: Rev. Samuel B. McKinney
  • 1997: Akiiko “Aki” Kurose
  • 1996: Dorothy Grant & Dee Dee Rainbow

The Local Hero Award

Given to a Madrona resident for an act of heroism, singular kindness or generosity.

  • 2013: Mary Gallwey
  • 2012: Harriett Cody, Shoshona Driver,
  • Jerry Arbes & Anne Knight for Bus2Riders
  • 2011: Barbara Schwartz
  • 2010: Amy Bush
  • 2009: Emma Kearney
  • 2008: Laura Yurdin
  • 2007: Judith Starbuck
  • 2006: Floyd Goffney
  • 2005: Junius Rochester
  • 2004: Anthony Matlock
  • 2003: Sayre Coombs
  • 2002: Girl Scout #2201 & Susan Doederlein
  • 2001: Tom Flood
  • 2000: Kuri Teshome
  • 1999: Charles & Joanne Pope
  • 1998: Michael & Kay Gordon
  • 1997:  Monad Elohim
  • 1996: Jocelyn Owens & Ann Lennartz

The Tyrone Love Unsung Hero Award

Given to a Madrona resident for service to others in the larger community.  Named after community and youth activist and mentor Tyrone Love who dedicated much of his life to the youth of the community.

  • 2013: Deirdre McCrary
  • 2012: Charley Bush
  • 2011: Heather Harris, Gwen Love & Dora Oliveira
  • 2010: Burke Shethar
  • 2009: Tyrone Love
  • 2008: Cecil “Mac” McKenzie,
  • 2007: Frederick B. Strom
  • 2006: Kim Herber
  • 2005: Martha Ortiz-Williams
  • 2004: Julia Berry
  • 2003: Jon Hughes
  • 2002: John Platt & Paul Butler
  • 2001: Marie Doyle & Madrona Playfield
  • 2000: none
  • 1999: Rich Appleton; Charles & Jonis Davis
  • 1998: none
  • 1997: none
  • 1996: Wayne Melonson
  • 1995:  Francois Kissel

The Madrona Resident for Life Award

Bestowed upon a long-time, active resident who has left Madrona but remains dearly missed.

  • 2013: none
  • 2012: none
  • 2011: Julie Guerrero and Carlos Kainz
  • 2010: Joan Scott
  • 2009: none
  • 2008: Henry Kuharic
  • 2007: Shelley Huestis
  • 2006: Jon Hughes
  • 2000: Jill Gordon
  • 1997: Shirley Solomon

Madrona Good Neighbor Award:

  • 1999: Madrona Elementary School
  • 1998: East Cherry YWCA & Tom Thampay and the Madrona Deli and Market
  • 1997: Roger’s Market and Jim Diers and the Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods
  • 1995:  Genesis House