Set on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, surrounded by low forest and lawns, Saint Edward’s Seminary is not hard to picture as it was in the 1930s, with hundreds of students in residence.
These days, Saint Edward State Park bursts with modern life. Kids enjoy unstructured fun on the grass fields and playground equipment, kayakers cruise Lake Washington and hikers and mountain bikers take to the trails.
Amidst the sprawling grounds, lapping lakeshore and verdant footpaths, you’ll find a place steeped in Northwest history. The large brick building was the first successful Catholic seminary in the Pacific Northwest and the first accredited Catholic seminary university in the United States. Envisioned and financed by Seattle’s first bishop, Edward O’Dea, and designed by famed architect John Graham, the remarkable edifice was constructed in 1931 and served students until 1976.
Take a contemplative stroll to a quiet Grotto, a river-rock alcove that has become a popular wedding spot. If you’re looking for a picnic site close to Seattle, you’re in the right place. Relaxing on the grass or at a picnic table, you’ll be struck by the play of the afternoon light on the classic old building.
Saint Edward State Park is a 326-acre day-use park with 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on Lake Washington. Picnic tables are available first come, first served, and the Grotto and several picnic areas are available for rental. The seminary building is not open for events at this time. There is no boat launch at the park, but paddlers launching from other parts of Lake Washington can bring their kayaks and boards onto the beach.
Automated pay station: This park is equipped with an automated pay station for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass.
Pets in the park: Staff at Saint Edward State Park remind you that dogs are welcome in state parks if they are on leash and under control at all times. We want to provide safety, comfort and enjoyment for all visitors and ensure the protection of wildlife and natural resources in the park. Please keep your dog on leash, and pick up after your pet.
The Carole Ann Wald Memorial Pool is closed indefinitely.
Saint Edward State Park is extremely popular for special events, weddings, and family picnics. To ensure your family or group can have your event or picnic on the date you select, reservations are strongly recommended. Regardless of the size of your group, a Special Activity Recreation Permit may be required. To make a reservation or to obtain a permit for your event, please call (425) 649-4275 ext 105. Even though the park offers first-come, first-served picnic tables, if the park has reached its capacity with reservations, first-come, first-served tables will not be available. Also, because of limited parking and to help save resources, visitors are strongly encouraged to carpool.
The park offers five unsheltered picnic areas for rental to groups. Each site accommodates at least 100 people with picnic tables and stand-up style grills. The east and west picnic sites have a ball field with their areas. The north picnic area has an open play field and horseshoe pits. The south picnic site has a beach-style volleyball area with a net and is very close to the playground. There are 20-by-20-feet and 10-by-20-feet canopies, tables, chairs and portable heater rentals available for outdoor picnics. Extra parking may be set up for events in advance. For more details, call (425) 455-7010 ext. 105.
The Grotto is a secluded garden alcove that lends itself well to intimate ceremonies and services. The capacity is 120 people. Water and electricity are not available at the site. Tables, chairs, outdoor heaters, and 20-by-20-feet or 10-by-20-feet canopies are available to rent for an additional fee. More information about The Grotto at Saint Edward
The Grand Dining Hall
The Grand Dining Hall is unavailable for rental until further notice.
Water activities & features
Personal watercraft use
A big toy playground is popular with kids. The playground was built by the community for the community and completely funded by donations from the community.
Picnicking, hiking, soccer, mountain biking, fishing, bicycling, swimming, bird watching, softball and horse trails are offered in the Holmes Point area.
Access to waterfront from the shore is by trail only. There is no vehicle access to the beach, which is undeveloped and unguarded.
There are many trails open to mountain biking which is a very popular activity within Saint Edward State Park. Remember that several of the trails are open to hiking only and bikes are strictly prohibited on these trails. Check with the park office or kiosk for trail maps and information.
Saint Edward State Park sits on Lake Washington, on the traditional territory of several Native American tribes. The 1830s brought disease to the area and the native population was severely diminished. A canal created between 1911 and 1916 linked Lake Washington to Seattle and Lake Union, causing the lake’s water levels to drop 9 feet, further decimating native populations. The area was used for logging and, after the land had been cleared, for farming.
Saint Edward Seminary was the vision of Seattle’s first bishop, Edward O’Dea, who successfully moved the Northwest’s Catholic Diocese from Vancouver to Seattle. By 1896, the Northwest had 46 Catholic churches and fewer than 20 priests. Recognizing a need, O’Dea dedicated his life and much of his personal wealth to the establishment of a seminary. During the Great Depression, he raised $100,000 to build the seminary, and the diocese secured a loan for $200,000, a remarkable feat at the time. He hired renowned Seattle architect John Graham to design the building and site, which was completed between February and September of 1931. The seminary was blessed by the pope, and it soon grew from a six-year “minor” seminary to a 12-year “major” seminary. Saint Edward was the first fully-accredited seminary in the United States. The school outgrew its capacity and required outbuildings to be constructed over the years.
Saint Edward closed in 1976 due to declining enrollment and State Parks acquired the building and site in 1977. Several of the later buildings were acquired by Bastyr College in 2005. A 2016 agreement between State Parks and Daniels Realty will allow for the seminary building’s restoration.