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Archive for Seattle

Judge Thomas Burke Monument, Seattle, Washington by Hermon A. MacNeil


1930 ~ Judge Thomas Burke Memorial by MacNeil

In February 1886, Judge Thomas Burke addressed an angry mob rioting against Chinese immigrants. 

(The Judge’s public appeal occurred in the same year that MacNeil was being born over 3,000 miles away in Everett, Massachusetts), [ 135 years later, Anti-Asian bigotry and Violence against Asians appear to be nothing new . ]

“Judge Thomas Burke played a key role in calming Seattle during the anti-Chinese riots, which occurred in February 1886. Addressing a hostile audience, Burke called upon his considerable stump speaking abilities — one commentator said the Burke “had the golden gift of eloquence which has been likened to that of Patrick Henry” — to point out that minority rights must be respected. Burke also told his listeners that they should be concerned with the city’s reputation. The riots were settled by cooler heads and by the intervention of the 14th U.S. Infantry.” [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

Forty-four years later,

Hermon A. MacNeil

was commissioned to sculpt a fitting memorial to this heroic, civic pioneer of Seattle, Washington. 

The Memorial to Judge Thomas Burke (designed in partnership with famous architect Carl F. Gould* also an 1898-1903 student at École des Beaux Arts in Paris) exhibits MacNeil’s classic Beaux Arts design and allegorical figures. 

Beneath the bronze bas relief of  Burke’s profile, the engraved stone pilaster  reads:  “Patriot, Jurist, Orator, Friend, Patron of Education, First of every Movement for the Advancement of the City and State, Seattle’s Foremost and Best Beloved Citizen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Thomas Burke

1930 ~  Thomas Burke

          — Remembered as a Railroad Builder

“Burke came to Seattle in 1875 and formed a law partnership with John J. McGilvra; he soon married McGilvra’s daughter Caroline.[2] He established himself as a civic activist: one of his first projects was to raise funds for a planked walkway from roughly the corner of First and Pike (now site of Pike Place Market) through Belltown to Lake Union.[7]

Cartoon of Thomas Burke, railroad man

He served as probate judge 1876-1880[8] and as chief justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court in 1888.[3]

“Irish as a clay pipe,”[9] and well liked by early Seattle’s largely Irish working class, as a lawyer Burke was well known for collecting large fees from his wealthy clients and providing free legal services for the poor.  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

With a open-heart for the poor and immigrants, Thomas Burke rose not only in the legal profession, but also as a probate judge and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Washington Territory.  He remained a civic and national leader until his dying breathe at age 76.

“Thomas Burke collapsed on December 4, 1925, while addressing the board of the Carnegie Endowment in New York City. Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, caught him as he fell. He wrote that Burke died “in the midst of an eloquent and unfinished sentence which expressed the high ideals of international conduct.”  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

Thomas Burke – – – A man well remembered (Obituary HERE)

Hermon MacNeil – – – A Sculptor of Memorials

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Judge Thomas Burke Monument

Seattle, Washington ~ Volunteer Park

1930 - Hermon A. MacNeil's Monument to Judge Thomas Burke in Seattle, WA

Hermon A. MacNeil sculpted this bronze bas-relief in 1929. He fashioned accompanying allegorical figures of Justice and an American Indian on either side. C. F. Gould, architect, designed the pedestal-bench-plaza.  Dedicated in 1930, the monument  honors pioneer Judge Thomas Burke (1849-1925) – “patriot, jurist, orator, friend, patron of education”, promoter of Pacific Rim harmony and trade; instrumental in bringing transcontinental railroad to Seattle.  Cost: 50,000; memorial contributed by admirers of Judge Burke.

  1. Another View of Burke Monument
  2. Burke Memorial on Waymark
  3. Volunteer Park History:
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