Martha Washington Park & the School for Girls

Posted by blogger in Seattle Ghost Tours
Martha Washington Park & the School for Girls - Photo

Martha Washington Park is a quaint park on the Lake Washington shore. It’s a nice place to have a picnic, go for a jog, or take your dog on a walk. The trees offer a lovely shade as the cool breeze from the lake washes over your skin. But once the sun sets on Martha Washington Park, it’s time to go. The park is one of the most haunted places in Seattle, and it gets really spooky after nightfall. The park was home to the infamous Martha Washington School for Girls, where young women who were considered delinquent were sent to continue their studies. Like any other insane asylum in the 20th century, the patients, or students, of Martha Washington were likely subject to cruel and unusual experiments and punishments. There have been tales at the school involving allegations of murder, suicide, rape, and violence. After the school was shut down in the 1980s, it was abandoned, attracting vagrants, vandals, and satanic cults who used the space to perform their bloody rituals. The abandoned school was demolished in 1989, and the area was transformed into Martha Washington Park. People who straddle into the park at night report phantom footsteps, disembodied voices, and the apparitions of young girls spying on them from behind the trees or bushes. Adults who have abused young girls often receive the most intense haunts, while teenage girls are often comforted by the spirits in the park. Interestingly enough, long before the School for Girls was erected, the Indigenous Duwamish tribe used the area to fish, play games, and bury their dead. The construction damaged the remains of the deceased, stirring up their spirits. Some of the ghosts at the park are Native in origin. Some say the bad energy that lingered over the school was due to the anger from the Native spirits after their resting place was desecrated.

Early History: Duwamish Burial & Fishing Grounds

Long before the European colonizers arrived in Seattle, the Duwamish inhabited the lands. They often camped onshore and fished along Lake Washington, including the area now known as Martha Washington Park. The area was used for fishing, playing games, and was also used as a burial site. After the Europeans moved in, they had little regard for the land. Construction shuffled the bones around, damaging the human remains. According to mediums in the area, the spirits are angry at the destruction of their burial site. They attribute the dark aura at the Martha Washington School for Girls to stem from the angry spirits of the Duwamish.

The Martha Washington School for Girls

The Martha Washington School for Girls was initially located in Queen Anne. Called the Parental School for Boys and Girls, the institution was coed at the time. The faculty quickly realized the problems that arose when housing troubled boys and girls in the same building, so they separated the two. The Girls School was moved to Mercer Island, while the Queen Anne location became boys-only. In 1920, Seattle area judge Everett T. Smith sold his property on Lake Washington to the Seattle School District, who then used the building to house the girls’ school.

In the coming years, the School Board added a gymnasium, classrooms, and dorms. They kept the greenhouse, boathouse, and the caretaker’s residence. The girls ranged in age from 10 to 16. They were educated in traditional housekeeping activities, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and gardening. Many of the trees that now populate Martha Washington Park were planted by the students of the Girls School. There were never many students at the school; attendance ranged from 30 to 80 girls, and there were never more than 10 teachers.

Rumors swirled about all sorts of horrifying acts at the Girls School. Murder, rape, violence, and suicide were all said to have taken place at the school. There were even allegations of human experimentation. Many of these tales remain unconfirmed due to the lack of any formal records. The girls at Martha Washington were considered to be the “bad kids.” They were sent to the Girls School because they couldn’t fit in anywhere else. They were regarded as subjects of the State of Washington, and the way they were treated had parallels with patients at mental institutions. Many of these incidents were likely covered up or simply unreported. Since society had already deemed these children troublemakers, abusive adults likely took advantage of them, knowing they could get away with it. Some stories do survive, though. A janitor reportedly raped and murdered one of the students at the Girls School. Her body was found hung from a tree the next day.

The Martha Washington School for Girls remained open until 1965. The building was used for other educational purposes until 1983. The building was abandoned shortly afterward. It became a haven for vagrants, graffiti artists, and drug addicts. The building also attracted satanic cults who used the building for their dark rituals. The Satanists gained quite some notoriety in the neighborhood. The residents of Brighton Beach weren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of animal sacrifices taking place near their home. They petitioned to have the buildings demolished. The city listened, and the buildings were knocked down in 1989.

The Ghosts at Martha Washington Park

The city turned the area into a park, now known as Martha Washington Park. A few remnants of the building remain, like the hollow staircase leading to the Madrona trees, which some people say is a portal to the past. The arch at the school entrance was preserved and memorialized at Green Lake Park. During the day, the park attracts routine visitors. People go to the park to sit by the lake, meditate, or read a book. The trees at the park offer a lovely shade, and many of them were planted by former students. But after dark, Martha Washington Park becomes a place where ghosts and spirits come back to life.

Some of the students of Martha Washington haven’t left; they still roam the grounds of their old school. They tend to hide among the vegetation, making themselves known only to certain passersby. The apparition of a translucent young girl in a nightgown is the most seen spirit. She is said to walk along with those who are taking a stroll. Sometimes she’s noticed. Sometimes she isn’t. She’s given quite a few people a good scare and has sent packs of people running out of the park. She’s more likely to appear when there’s an odd number of people in the group. After dark, those who go to Martha Washington have reported phantom footsteps, disembodied voices, bloodcurdling screams in the distance, and the feeling of being watched or followed. Many also claim to feel a strong sense of uneasiness if they’re in the park during sunset.

Troubled teenage girls who end up walking through the park are often comforted by the spirits. The former students sympathize with the strenuous modern-day lifestyles facing teens today. Even though the students of the Girls School had it way harder, they still lend a shoulder. Some teens have said they came out of the park feeling at ease. On the other hand, abusers have been tormented while strolling through the park. The ghosts are said to harass those who have abused and taken advantage of young girls, scaring them off and sometimes even following them home.

Martha Washington Park is also an Indigenous burial ground for the Duwamish tribe. The spirits have been angry for quite some time, as modern-day construction has stirred up the earth and damaged the remains of their ancestors. Many have seen apparitions of the Natives fishing or holding athletic competitions. Some have also seen the residuals from their ceremonies, catching glimpses of the elders wearing their traditional headdresses. Their spiritual presence is stronger near the water and around the caretaker’s house. Some speculate that the tribes used that particular location to clean and butcher their game, or even kill prisoners of war. According to local mediums, the Indigenous spirits have a forcefield around the area, presumably to ward off or close in a much more evil spirit. Perhaps an evil energy created by the horrible events at the Girls School, or even raised from hell by the satanic cult.

Learn more about the haunted history of Seattle!

Seattle is the city of the future. From the tech companies driving technology forward to the social movements fighting for Civil Rights, the city is a haven for forward-thinking people. Still, the ghosts of the past are alive and well in the Emerald City. Check out the haunts of the Seattle Underground! A subterranean brothel is home to droves of ghostly sex workers. Grab a drink at Re-Bar. This downtown dive bar helped kicked Nirvana, and grunge, into the spotlight. It’s also home to the ghost of a kinky leather daddy from another dimension. Spend a night at the Mayflower Park Hotel! Two old ghosts haunt the building, and although they try to be friendly, they end up scaring away a few of the guests. Wanna take a road trip around the Evergreen State? Read up on the top ten most haunted spots in Washington!