During a past walk to Mathison Park, Burien resident Eric Mathison gave the walkers a guided tour of his family’s former home and property.
Burien local, Eric Mathison, grew up in the house and yard that is now called “Mathison Park.”
Here’s a map of the Mathison Park walking Route:
(Click on the map for a larger view, and please print it out to have a map as you walk.)
Brief history of the Park
This five-acre park was dedicated on September 15, 2006. Most of the land was donated by Ted Mathison in 1999. On April 16, 2003, two sisters, Eleanor Carver Nelson and Dorothy C. Carver, donated a key parcel allowing the park to connect between South 146th and 148th Street. They gifted their property to the Burien Parks Department in memory of their grandfather, Herman Nickolas Peters, who homesteaded in Sunnydale in 1889.
Peters was born in Germany on February 21st, 1868 and came to Minneapolis when he was 14. He arrived in Seattle in 1889, just after the great fire. After buying a small paint store in Seattle, he purchased 10 acres in Sunnydale. He later bought another five acres. He lived on his homestead property until his death in 1949.
Peters operated a large chicken ranch and orchard between 5th Ave. South and 8th Ave. South, and South 148th and South 150th. He built several houses on 6th Ave. South, most of which were paved over by State Highway 518.
Patrons of the Park: The Mathison Family
In the summer of 2006, the Mathison siblings – Don, Phil, Eric, Stephen, and Susan – cut the ribbon to open Burien’s newest neighborhood park and playground. They grew up on the property, raised by their parents Ted and Bernadine Mathison.
Eric Mathison, a writer for the Highline Times, noted the irony in Burien Plaza Starbucks adopting the park: his mom and dad didn’t drink coffee. His late father had written that “it is highly recommended that the property remain heavily wooded (my wife Bernadine loved trees).” With “great pleasure and trepidation” he turned over to the city of Burien what had been the family home since 1944.
The Mathisons bought the five acres “in the country” from the Sunnydale Goat Dairy for $1,600 in August, 1942. Ted Mathison laid 10 or 12 cinder blocks a day, after work, in building their house. The children had many adventures on the property – climbing trees, building forts, and picking fruit from their gardens. “Just because we lived on five acres on the top of a hill, I don’t want you to think we were rich snobs,” Eric said. “My dad was a Boeing middle manager. My mom took care of five kids and volunteered in the community. My parents were into voluntary simplicity before voluntary simplicity was cool.
“I want Burien officials and park patrons to know how important the place is to my family and me. The benefits we received as kids (wooded trails with views of Mt. Rainier, the airport, and Puget Sound) we want to pass on to succeeding generations of children and adults.”
Additional history of the Park
Check out our tip sheet: “Start Walking for Health and Well-Being”.
Intentions for Burien’s Weekday Walks:
- “Encourage active living to support physical and mental health.” (Part of Burien’s “Vision”).
- Initiate conversation between friends and neighbors, new and old.
For further information, please jot us a note: [email protected]
(Photos by Maureen Hoffmann, Künstdame • Burien WA)