Reginald Parsons House – 618 W Highland Drive

Parsons House
Parsons House

This Dutch colonial house with stucco exterior and slate roof was built in 1905 from plans by W. Marbury Sommervell.  The house has a fireplace in every bedroom, a gymnasium on the third floor, a huge library, a tile-floored conservatory, and a large sunroom.  The beautiful grounds originally included Parsons Memorial Garden on the west and a rose garden on the east side.  The house was designated a Seattle landmark in 1979.

Its original owner, Reginald H. Parsons (1873-1955) was born in Flushing, Long Island, New York.  After living in Colorado and California, he came to Seattle in 1904 with his wife Maude Bemis Parsons (1874-1955) to open a branch of the Bemis Bros. Bag Co.  Over his career he gave generously of himself as a businessman, philanthropist, and civic leader.  He was particularly fond of the Boy Scouts of America, and served as president of the Seattle Council of Boy Scouts as well as a member of the executive board of the national Boy Scouts.  He also donated the land for Camp Parsons on Hood Canal.  Parsons served as director and president of many organizations and was a member of most of Seattle’s social clubs.

Among his many civic functions, Parsons served as president of the Community Chest, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber of Commerce.  He was a director of the Arboretum Association and president of the Japan Society.

Parsons also was a director of both the United States Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Commerce, and an honorary president of the Family Society of Seattle.   He was a founder of the Pinel Foundation and of Lakeside School.

He attended Colorado College, the University of California, and Whitman College.

Parsons was a member of the Episcopal Church.  His club affiliations included the University, Rainier, Arctic, College and Washington Athletic Clubs.

Parsons was in the mining business in Colorado.   Some of the companies with which he was associated included the Hillcrest Orchard Co., Rogue River Valley; the Methow Valley Livestock Co., and the Mountcrest Ranch, Siskiyou County, California.  He also was president of the Northwest Fruit Exchange.

Parsons also was associated with the Parsons Investment Co. and the Pinnacle Packing Co., and was a director of banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.

He died in Seattle on June 9, 1955.

Read more about the Parsons house at

The adjacent Parsons Gardens was given to the City of Seattle for use as a public park in 1956 by the children of Parsons in memory of their parents.  The park occupies approximately one-third of an acre.

March 27, 2020:  “Parsons Garden and Betty Bowen Viewpoint honor important women in Seattle art history
February 3, 2021:  Tour of Parsons House featured on KING5 Evening

Sources:  Bob Frazier, “Parsons House” in the Queen Anne Historical Society archives; The Seattle Times June 9, 1955 obituary; and Landmark Nomination October 8, 1979.