Photo courtesy David Denino.
Sound View Park – built on the lot that once housed the historic Van Gasken view home that was torn down in 2020 – is now open.

“This unique space celebrates the history of the Des Moines region,” the city said in a statement.

The city acquired the property by obtaining a $1+ million_ grant from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). An additional $95,000 was received from the RCO in March, 2022, with an additional $275,000 coming from the city.

The park is contiguous with Overlook II Park, and provides a gathering space with sweeping vistas of Puget Sound, Vashon Island, Maury Island, and the Olympic Mountains.

The City collaborated with the State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP), the RCO, and area Native American Tribes including Muckleshoot, Puyallup, and Snoqualmie, to incorporate artwork and native plantings into the design of the site.

Additions are planned in the coming months.

“Incorporating local, Tribal art will acknowledge this special land and enhance the recreation experience through a beautifully designed open space,” the city added.

    • The park is now open for community enjoyment.
    • In consultation with local Tribes, native plant species that held special meaning and purpose to the land in the area are included in the landscaping. Some species include: Sala Snowberry, Red Flowering Currant, Wild Onion, Wild Ginger, Black Gooseberry, Wild Strawberry
    • Story Stones that tell Tribal legends are also included on the site. One of these tells the story of Lizard Woman, as translated by Muckleshoot Elder-Yikut: “There was? a boulder on the beach near Des Moines, known as White Rock. When the Snake People were going on an expedition to Vashon Island, Lizard Woman stayed behind and sunned herself on this rock. Accordingly, lizards are plentiful in this vicinity. “

Below are photos of the Story Stones courtesy David Denino:

Denino speculates that “Blanket Rock” (the father) lies to the south near Redondo Beach/Buenna (Federal Way), and “White Rock” (the daughter) is where the Des Moines Marina is now.

“Although one of the stories says that White Rock was “between Des Moines and Three Tree Point” which, I don’t think I’d expect to include the south marina parking lot,” Denino added.

More info on the “Lizard Woman” story can be found in this text by Arthur C. Ballard here in the University of Washington archives.

According to the Des Moines Historical Society, the “Van Gasken” home overlooking Puget Sound was built in 1889 for Capt. William D. Fleming and his wife Jane. When Mr. Fleming died Jane’s daughter, Emma, and son-in-law, William Van Gasken moved in with Mrs. Fleming. Jane Fleming died in the family home in 1919. The Van Gaskens were among the first permanent residents of Des Moines.

This is the view from Sound View Park. Photo courtesy City of Des Moines.

Read more about the history of the Van Gasken home from the Des Moines Historical Society here.

Sound View Park is located at 402 S. 222nd Street: