The Turner-Koepf house, otherwise known as the “Garden House” or the Jefferson Park Ladies Improvement Club, is a historic Victorian in Beacon Hill. Built in 1883, it’s possible it’s the first home built in the neighborhood—and certainly one of the oldest in Seattle. It’s not just the house, either; the home’s grounds, which cover three lots, have some of the oldest pear trees in the state.
The house is currently embroiled in a historic-preservation effort led by Beacon Arts. While the house has been found to have historic significance by the city—and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places—there’s fear that in a rapidly changing city, it could be redeveloped without a city landmark designation. (Properties on the federal register can be torn down by private owners.) The goal is to get the whole property preserved; not just the house, but the surrounding orchards and gardens.
Most recently, the house has served as a clubhouse for the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs (WSFGC), which rents the building out for events like weddings and reunions. (The group voted to sell the property back in June.) But the home was originally built to resemble an Italian villa for judge and real estate mogul E. A. Turner. When Turner died in 1898, Frederick Koepf, the chief draftsman in the city engineer’s office at the time, bought the home remodeled it into the Queen Anne style, which was fashionable at the time. This is how it gained the more traditional hallmarks of the Victorian era: a turret, leaded-glass windows, and fish-scale shingles.
In 1927, the Jefferson Park Ladies Improvement Club transformed the space into a community center—then, in 1977, it was bequeathed to the garden club.
Last week, the home was officially listed, so while neighborhood groups struggle for a landmark designation, the home is available for purchase. “We are doing our best to sell the property to someone who will love the history of this special icon,” said listing agent Courtney Cooper in an email to Curbed Seattle.
Listing photos show a lovingly preserved home, surrounded by the gardens that gave it its nickname. The grounds, which can be viewed from a wraparound porch, contain the famous orchard, lawns, and many carefully curated pockets of plants surrounding benches and, of course, a gazebo.
Inside, the grand, formal gathering spaces of yesteryear make for stunning, well-preserved event spaces, decorated in a period style with wallpaper, accented boxbeam ceilings, and wainscoting. The kitchen, despite being modified slightly for catering, still maintains vintage built-in cabinetry with leaded glass cabinets.
A classic, banister staircase, accented by a stained-glass window, leads upstairs, where bedrooms currently serve as office space—sans the bland remodel that can so often accompany those kinds of conversions—and a getting-ready room.
Although the King County Assessor values the land at $1.98 million, the listing price for this historic property is a little less than that: $1.75 million.
- 2336 15th Ave S Seattle, WA 98144 [Cooper Jacobs]
- 2336 15th Ave [DON]
- Seattle Neighborhoods: Beacon Hill [History Link]
- Turner-Koepf House [NPS]
- Save Garden House! [Beacon Arts]