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Weekly Art Hit: ‘Governor John Harte McGraw’ by Richard Brooks

In this election season, with an upcoming vote for this state’s governor, we thought we’d feature a public artwork created in honor of the second governor of Washington state, Governor John Harte McGraw.

The full-length, historic, bronze statue stands in McGraw Place near Westlake Center, bordered by Stewart Street, Fifth Avenue and Westlake Avenue. Artist Richard Brooks was commissioned to create the sculpture shortly after the death of the governor in 1910.  The bronze features McGraw in a suit, cane and overcoat in hand, staring determinedly into the distance.

McGraw was governor from 1893 to 1897 and was instrumental in the creation of the Lake Washington Ship Canal which, through a series of manmade cuts, connects Lake Washington with Puget Sound through several preexisting bodies of water, including Union Bay, Portage Bay, Lake Union, Salmon Bay and Shilshole Bay.

Earlier, as King County sheriff, McGraw was a major figure in keeping the peace during disturbances against Chinese laborers in the late 1880s. In February 1886, he repelled vigilantes who were trying to round up Chinese Americans in Seattle and send them back to China. McGraw deputized 400 Seattle citizens to protect the Chinese. He also protected property during the Seattle fire in 1889.

The statue is part of the city’s permanent public art collection and was funded by Seattle Chamber of Commerce and gifted to the city of Seattle.

Image: Governor John Harte McGraw, 1912. Photo by Spike Mafford.

– Tamara Gill, Community Development & Outreach