Q+A with Isabelle Gray, Author of "Madison Valley Places of Interest"

Have you checked out the new book about our neighborhood? Local resident Isabelle Gray sits down with Madison Valley Community Council to talk about Madison Valley Places of Interest, a must-have for anyone interested in the history and culture of our little part of Seattle.
MVCC: How would you describe the book?
ISABELLE: The book gives an introduction to and overview of different locations of historic, cultural, and environmental significance in Madison Valley.
MVCC: What inspired you to write it?
ISABELLE: I didn’t start out planning to write a book. During the past few years, as I walked around and talked to neighbors, I kept finding out interesting tidbits about the neighborhood. I walked by William Grose and Julia Lee's Parks and wanted to know more about them. A neighbor mentioned the trestle under Madison. Another neighbor had Homer Harris as a doctor and said there was a park named after him. I was curious and thought that other people might want to know about the history behind all of these wonderful places in our community. It snowballed from there.
MVCC: How long have you lived in the neighborhood?
ISABELLE: I’ve lived in my current home about seven years and I grew up nearby, just a few blocks away actually.
MVCC: Was there anything surprising that you discovered while researching the book?
ISABELLE: I would say I was surprised by the number of parks and greenspaces. Everyone knows about the Japanese Garden and Arboretum. The smaller spaces like Julia Lee’s Park, Mercer-Madison Woods, William Grose Park, and Prentis Frazier Park, are easy to miss especially if you aren’t on foot. I also didn’t realize what an important role Wiiliam Grose played in helping African-Americans become land and home owners in this part of Seattle. 

MVCC: What are some of the most notable ways the neighborhood's changed in the last 10/20/50 years?
ISABELLE: It's easiest to pick the 50 year mark because many of the places in the book didn't exist five decades ago. So physically, certain parts of the neighborhood would have looked quite different. One thing that stands out as a constant, or not changing, is neighbors coming together to preserve and create greenspaces that they believed would benefit the community. Because of this strong community involvement over the years, we now have Mercer-Madison Woods, Mad-P P-Patch, and Harrison Ridge Greenbelt.

Madison Valley Places of Interest is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Dana Hanna