A Love Story

The “house that love built" continues to enchant visitors from far and wide. Part of the Thornewood story is how Chester Thorne built the castle, and especially its gardens, as a gift to his wife, Anna Thorne.

They had been married for just over 20 years when construction of Thornewood began. Positioned on the shores of American Lake, and with prime views of Mount Rainier, Chester Thorne picked an ideal Pacific Northwest landscape to locate this standing legacy.

Chess, as he was called by friends and relatives, retained Kirtland Kelsey Cutter as the architect to design the raising of this “built to last" property.

Anna's Secret Garden

Anna called the sunken English garden, made specifically with her in mind, her “Secret Garden." The gardens were designed by the Olmsted Brothers and were recognized in several national publications over the years. The Olmsted garden is a part of a Smithsonian Institute Heritage Exhibit. Nisqually Valley topsoil was hauled in to cover the grounds at Thornewood, which makes for amazing plant growth.

The Thorne Family

The Thornes lived at Thornewood with their daughter, Anita. The Thorne estate was attended by 40 servants and 28 gardeners. When Anita married and had children, they continued to reside at Thornewood for many years.

The Thornes had been married 41 years and had three grandchildren when Chester died of illness at Thornewood on Sunday, October 16, 1927. Anna died peacefully in 1954, 27 years later.

37 of the estate's original 100 acres were planted with formal English gardens as a gesture of love from husband to wife.

The current Thornewood estate sits on 4 acres, but still contains Anna's favorite “Secret Garden."