Yesterday I visited the historic Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens on the lower South Hill of Spokane. The gardens were established by the wealthy Senator George Turner and his wife Bertha. Over the years they terraced and landscaped and planted the steep basalt hillside behind their mansion into the most beautiful and elaborate gardens in the inland northwest. But George Turner died in 1932, the bank foreclosed, the house was eventually demolished and gardens overgrown and forgotten. The city acquired the tract at some point but the land was left vacant--even serving as a dumping site for debris carried away from Havermale Island as it was readied for Expo '74.
Below are the pictures I took--click here to see the full images with captions.
Then things got interesting.
In 1998 an ice storm damaged many of the trees on the site. When the lot was being cleared of downed brush the workers noticed the long-forgotten terraces and stairs. Spokane Parks employees and others researched the history of the site and soon an effort was underway to restore the historic gardens. (The effort was documented in a documentary by local public television station KSPS, "Hidden Garden," briefly mentioned here and partly available on YouTube.)
Today the gardens are magnificently restored to resemble as closely as possible the gardens of a century ago. Working with with the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture and other experts, the restoration team did painstaking research to find period photographs, plant lists, and newspaper information about the gardens and how they were used. It will take a few years for the site to reach its full potential--the rose bushes and climbing vines need time to grow--but the site is already a delightful addition to the city parks. And it may be the only historic garden of its type still in existence in the area. The garden opened to the public in 2007.
To Get There: The Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens are directly adjacent to the Corbin Arts Center at 507 West Seventh Ave (Google map directions). According to the city the gardens "are open to the public weekends in May beginning Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During the summer, June through August, the Gardens will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Monday & Tuesday). For additional information please call the Corbin Art Center at (509) 625-6677."