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A brief history of Heritage Park

The first Master Plan for Washington’s Capitol designed in 1911 included an open space connecting the state capitol buildings with downtown Olympia and Puget Sound. Heritage Park fulfills that vision.

Planning for park development began in 1986, when the City of Olympia commissioned a study on the possibility of creating the space envisioned by capitol architects Walter Wilder and Harry White. The result was a contemporary interpretation of the 1911 design: a public park with a promenade aligned along a north-south axis from the center of the Legislative Building to Puget Sound. Though the park design has evolved considerably from the 1986 study, the historic axis serves as a central design feature of the park today.

Soon after this first study, the Heritage Park Development Association was formed. The association, composed of private citizens from across the state encouraged cooperation between the state and the city to promote continued planning and investment in the park. The group remains active today.

The first state funding for the park was authorized in 1991. It enabled the purchase of critical park property and funded further study. The Heritage Park pre-Design Study was completed in 1992, and serves today as the primary vision guiding ongoing park development.

Subsequent state money paid for the park’s physical formation, infrastructure and initial landscaping.

Possible future park enhancements include:

  • Plazas
  • Additional landscaping
  • A play area
  • A lawn theatre
  • New restroom facility