BONNEY WATSON’s story began in 1861 when Oliver C. Shorey and his wife, Mary Emeline Bonney, moved to Seattle. At the time, there were only about 150 residents in Seattle.
Mr. Shorey was a carpenter and cabinet maker. Shortly after he arrived in Seattle, the University of Washington commissioned Shorey and Mr. A.P. DeLin to carve the four stately Ionic columns which became part of the University’s first building in downtown Seattle. When the university moved to its current location, the columns of the original buildings were the only relics preserved from UW’s first building.
Shorey and DeLin continued running their cabinet shop and furniture store. In 1868, the two cabinet makers, in a move not unusual for those times, added casket-making to their list of services. Thus began the company we know today as BONNEY WATSON.
Surviving the Great Seattle Fire
As Seattle’s population grew, so did the need for caskets. In 1881, L.W. Bonney, a brother-in-law, joined the firm as a partner. The Shorey-Bonney name survived until 1889, the year of the Great Seattle Fire.
The fire actually started in a building adjacent to the Shorey-Bonney business; it destroyed their Third Avenue and Columbia Street establishment, along with most of downtown Seattle.
After the fire, Shorey retired and sold his company shares to G.M. Stewart. Bonney and Stewart rebuilt their shop with brick at Third Avenue and Columbia Street, and moved into their new facilities in 1893.
Ten years later, the sexton of the Lake View Cemetery, Harry M. Watson, bought out Stewart and for the first time, the BONNEY WATSON sign went up on the building.
Washington Memorial Park
In 1912, BONNEY WATSON moved to larger facilities at Broadway Avenue and East Olive, where they remained for a half century. This building eventually sold to Seattle Community College in 1962, and BONNEY WATSON moved up Broadway to Howell Street, where it operated until 2019.
In 1978, BONNEY WATSON acquired Washington Memorial, a cemetery with a funeral home, located near Sea-Tac International Airport. In 1989, the firm added a funeral home in Federal Way, and in 2014, BONNEY WATSON purchased Southwest Mortuary in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, and now serves Puget Sound area families from three convenient locations.
To this day, BONNEY WATSON is still family-owned and privileged to be the oldest continually operating business in Washington State.