Longtime Edmonds resident bequeaths her property to metropolis for group backyard


The property was bequeathed by Shirley Johnson to the Metropolis of Edmonds to be used as a group park.

Edmonds resident Shirley Johnson lived alone for a few years within the house she liked. Her husband and son had been each lengthy deceased, and for years she lived a principally solitary life in her 1925-vintage home at 9309 Bowdoin Approach. Regardless of the house being badly in want of restore, Johnson merely couldn’t carry herself to reside wherever else, preferring to get pleasure from what some would possibly describe as a pioneer life amongst the fruit bushes and blackberry vines that grew on her one-acre property.

The 83-year-old Johnson handed away in January of this yr.

Having no important heirs, Johnson determined in 2018 to will her house and property to the group she liked. It was her approach to make sure that issues she treasured be retained and never enable the property to be bulldozed and developed into one thing unrecognizable.

Accordingly, her will stipulates that her property be bequeathed to the Metropolis of Edmonds “particularly for the needs of getting used as a park and/or group backyard web site and/or to domesticate and develop crops, fruits, greens and different associated issues all for the Metropolis of Edmonds and for the residents of Edmonds and the area people because the Metropolis of Edmonds deems greatest of their discretion.”

Longtime neighbor, Metropolis Councilmember Kristiana Johnson (no relation), remembers Shirley effectively.

Shirley Johnson attended college in Edmonds, and is seen on this circa 1950 photograph with the sixth-grade band. In accordance with Edmonds Historic Museum Director Katie Kelly, Johnson is within the center row, third from the suitable with the French horn.

“She attended the previous Edmonds Excessive College on the present ECA (Edmonds Middle for the Arts) web site,” she recalled. “Her house was proper subsequent to ours on the time, however in the present day there are a couple of dozen homes between us. Shirley’s mother raised chickens and offered eggs, and my mom would usually ship me over to seize some eggs for breakfast. I’d attain proper beneath the chickens to get them, and I let you know, a few of them didn’t like giving up their eggs!”

Johnson went on to narrate that Shirley was an solely baby, and that her mom, husband and son had all handed on earlier than the flip of the century. Whereas not shut as kids, Kristiana and Shirley got here to know one another higher lately.

“In the future she was lamenting to me about how she liked her property and was questioning how to reserve it since she had no heirs,” Johnson defined. “Shirley was an actual character, however she knew what she needed.”

In response, Johnson put Shirley in touch with then-Metropolis Councilmember Tom Mesaros and then-Parks, Recreation and Cultural Companies Director Carrie Hite to speak about how keen the property to town is perhaps a approach to protect it as she would need.

“Coincidentally, Carrie had been desirous about a group backyard and was taking a look at a web site in Esperance,” Johnson added.  “I steered that Shirley’s property would possibly fill the invoice and be nearer to city and extra accessible.”

The Shirley Johnson home was inbuilt 1925, and reportedly nonetheless has the unique home windows and siding. (Picture by Larry Vogel)

In accordance with Kristiana Johnson, the 1925 house was by no means transformed, nonetheless has the unique home windows and has a lot moss on the roof that it really retains out the rain. The home water system stopped working “a couple of decade in the past,” however Shirley balked on the expense of fixing it, steadfastly refusing to go away, and selecting as a substitute to proceed “dwelling off her land,” foraging for mushrooms, apples and berries.

“She was a really decided girl,” added Kristiana Johnson. “She caught to her dream – that the property turn into a group backyard – and made positive that was in her will.”

There are a number of outbuildings on the property, principally lined in blackberries. (Picture by Larry Vogel)

A draft ordinance to just accept the property has been drawn up, and the Metropolis of Edmonds Parks and Public Works Committee was scheduled to evaluation it throughout its common assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The complete council will probably act on it Sept. 21.

Extra info, together with the draft ordinance and Shirley Johnson’s will, is offered in Tuesday’s council committee packet, out there right here.

— By Larry Vogel


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