We have more details on the mystery of the huge metal exhibit panel that went missing from Volunteer Park’s water tower last summer only to be found in a flower bed in the park this winter. Seattle Parks made e-mails available to CHS describing how city gardener Nancy Cifuentes made the surprising discovery. Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from Cifuentes describing the moment she encountered the lost Olmsted panel:
It was just a lucky fluke, finding it. I have so many groupings of fancy daffodils, hyacinths and narcissi in that bed, remnants of past Conservatory displays. And I have gotten increasingly grouchy that such a thick blanket of leaves has built up over them, that I decided to clean it out. As I removed the top layer of leaves I began to see a large metal thing. I called to my volunteer ”Hey, Chuck, can you help me, I think there is a part of a washing machine here!” But when we raised it up from its bed of muck, chips and leaves I could not believe what it was..And in nearly perfect condition! A small dent where they pried it off the wall, otherwise nearly perfect. I now have it in the office, all cleaned up and awaiting instructions.
Cifuentes said she was “grubbing in a shrub bed at the Anne Herrmann Memorial Garden” when she discovered the panel. According to the mail, the panel was found on the morning of February 4th. It was stolen from the water tower in June.
In another e-mail, Cifuentes hypothesized about why the panel had been removed in the first place. She believes somebody was using it as a bed:
As best I can reconstruct its fate someone laid it down and put newspapers and chips over it, then after sleeping on it for a time abandoned the site, deep inside some Viburnums. Then the leaves fell and it was covered over where it sat all year.
According to a Parks spokesperson, the panel has not yet been restored to the water tower exhibit.