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After more than 140 years of burials, Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery needs a new wall

Lake View still has room (Images: CHS)

Last week, CHS reported on Recompose, the Capitol Hill-birthed startup dedicated to rethinking what happens to our bodies after we die. As if Lake View Cemetery needed something else to worry about, the 147-year-old burial grounds are also in need of some costly repair.

The City of Seattle is reviewing a $1.5 million plan to replace the Capitol Hill cemetery’s dilapidated western retaining wall according to permit documents filed by the nonprofit association that runs the private grounds just north of Volunteer Park.

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The old brick wall runs north-south along 11th Ave E between E Howe and E Blaine. Elsewhere, the cemetery’s western edge meets the yards of neighboring homes, separated by a chain-link fence and plenty of landscaping.

“The existing wall seems likely to have been constructed when the roadway was constructed for 11th Avenue E. Previous field notes and plan and profile sheets show that the grades along 11th Ave E and E Howe Street were lowered in the early 1900’s,” a geotechnical report on the project reads. “We could find no record of when the wall was constructed but the 1/16th section corner is noted as located ‘under the brick wall’ in a field book dating back to 1907.”

Large trees including elm and maples and a copper beech are believed to be contributing to the failure of the old wall. Most will be removed as part of the installation of the new wall — their roots won’t be able to take the damage, according to an arborist’s report on the project. The project is being designed to minimize damage to other nearby trees including “adjacent Lawson Cypress trees” along E Howe.

“Tree #327, a Bigleaf Maple at the south end of the existing wall, exhibits signs of major vascular tissue death and decay on the south side of the trunk. Sounding with a hammer revealed a hollow trunk for approximately 150 degrees of the lower trunk face,” the arborist reports. “A mushroom fruiting body was discovered growing three feet above ground surface in this hollow sounding area, indicating internal decay. Dead upper branches in the south half of the canopy also indicates a problem with the condition. If the tree were to be retained, further hazard investigation is recommended.”

For some, as with others among Lake View’s 40,000 or so residents, it is simply time to go.

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4 thoughts on “After more than 140 years of burials, Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery needs a new wall

  1. Let’s see. First, the dead have to pay for it. Then if the dead balk we need to shut down the city government until the council approves the wall. Or maybe a fence would be OK. You can call it whatever you want.

    BUILD THE WALL! BUILD THE WALL! Who’s gonna pay for it? THE DEAD!

    • That would be housing discrimination… always putting the affordable stuff on busy streets and ancient burial grounds and all.. How do you expect poor people to ever be able to better their situation with all the noisy poltergeist activity they’ll have to endure. Not to mention they’d be living in a 2 foot wide apartment – unless you want to displace the dead. Sheesh…