Mary’s Accomplishments




The property that is now the Mukai Farm and Garden (encompassing the house, garden, strawberry fields, and the Fruit Barrelling Plant) was first identified as a site that might have special historic, landscape, and architectural significance in a survey of Vashon and Maury Islands undertaken by the King County Office of Historic Preservation in 1992.  Mary J. Matthews was the cultural resources specialist that undertook the survey. Matthews went on to write a King County Landmarks nomination for the site, as well as another historic study that listed it on the National Register of Historic Places.  When the Mukai Farm and Garden was designated a King County Landmark in 1993, it was the first King County site associated with Japanese-American history (see Seattle Times article, “Honoring a Pioneer,” by Carey Quan Gelernter, Nov. 19, 1993.)


Although the garden was completely overgrown–unrecognizable from its appearance today–Fruit Barrelling Plant owner Randy Wood contacted Matthews and told her about the interesting history of the site.  The person who owned the house and garden at the time, Linda Brush, was also very supportive of more research being done.  In the next few years, Brush and Wood would both be tremendously helpful in further work that identified the site’s significance.  Matthews became personal friends with Masahiro Mukai and his family, and also interviewed other Japanese-American families on the island, including Tok Otsuka, Haru Ishikawa, and Augie Takatsuka, not only about their impressions and memories of the Mukai farm but also about their own personal experiences.
Matthews undertook more in-depth research when she chose the Mukai Farm and Garden as her thesis topic in the Masters Degree in Historic Preservation program at Columbia University.  She has found that the site offers many areas for study:
 What happened to Issei women when they immigrated to the United States in the years around 1900?


 What garden and landscape influences did Kuni and Sato Mukai bring with them to America, and how were these altered by their new cultural experiences?


 How were classic elements of the garden such as rocks and plants changed to reflect the landscape of the Pacific Northwest?


 How does the Mukai house, designed by B.D. Mukai and built by a local contractor, meld both traditional Japanese architecture and American influences?
Mary J. Matthews,
Consultant in Historic Preservation

1976: Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia


  • Wrote a historic background study for Missouri State Parks on a country grist mill, Dillard’s Mill, as a basis for interpretation
  • For State of Missouri, undertook an architectural survey of Lexington, Missouri
  • For State of Missouri, undertook Missouri’s “Main Street” application to the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • For State of Missouri, undertook an architectural survey of Carthage, Missouri
  • While working for Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources, undertook an effort to save the Connor Hotel in Joplin, Missouri—failed.
  • Working in Kansas City, wrote a National Register Nomination for a historic district in downtown Kansas City; worked as a consultant on the restoration of a late 1920s bank building—it received an AIA award.
  • Wrote a historic study of the Seth Ward house, Westport, MO., built by fur trapper/trader William Bent, of Bent’s Fort, CO.

1985: Moved to New York City, attended graduate school at Columbia University.  Had to move and was unable to complete the thesis.   In New York:

  • Worked for the architecture firm of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, under the supervision of John Stubbs and Dr. James Marston Fitch.
  • “Rehabilitation Master Plan, New York Yacht Club”
  • “Packer Collegiate Institute Master Plan”
  • “The Bartow-Pell Estate: Restoration of the Carriage House, Recommendations for a Master Plan”
  • While attending Columbia, wrote a landscape rehab study of the Bartow-Pell Estate, under Dr. Wm. Howard Adams; also wrote an analysis of the garden cemetery movement based on Macpelah Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri, under Prof. Gwendolyn Wright.  Studied historic wallpapers with Prof. Catherine Lynn Scully and historic paint analysis under Prof. Frank Matero.
  • Restored two historic houses in Warren, Pennsylvania.

1988: Attended the Victorian Society of America’s Summer Program in Great Britain.

1990-2001: Lived and worked in Seattle and on Vashon Island.

  • Completed a year-long project in Anacortes, WA., a HABS Report on the Curtis Wharf, produced study, “Curtis Wharf.”
  • Wrote a City of Seattle Landmark nomination for the Jensen Motorboat Company.

For the King County Historic Preservation Program:

  • Authored “Camp Waskowitz: Historic Preservation Master Plan.”
  • Rehabilitation study and grant for wood shingle roof, the Reynolds Log House.
  • Authored a study of the bronze interior decorative arts of the Smith Tower, Seattle, WA.
  • Authored a historic study and slide show of the King County Courthouse, as part of the City Beautiful Movement.
  • Recommendations for restoration, the Fall City Hop Shed.
  • King County Landmark Nomination on the Lovegren House, Preston, WA.
  • Vashon Island:  Partially completed an architectural survey of Vashon and Maury Islands.
  • Started “Project Heritage Seed,” pilot project to assess historic preservation needs on the islands.

Wrote King County Landmark Nominations:

  • Schwartz/Bell Log House, 20233 81st Ave. S.W.
  • Burton Masonic Hall, 23927 Vashon Hwy. S.W., also wrote & obtained rehab grant
  • Harrington-Beall Greenhouse Company Historic District, 18527-31 Beall Road, also wrote and obtained grant for the VMIHA, for purchase and restoration of Harrington Log House as public museum.
  • Marjesira Inn, 25134 Vashon Hwy. S.W.
  • Thomas McNair House, 22915 107th Ave. S.W.: Edited and completed landmark nomination, edited rehab grant for owners.
  • Capt. Phillips House, edited rehab grant.
  • Mukai Agricultural Complex, 18017-18005 107th Ave. S.W., completed landmark nomination and wrote nomination for the National Register of Historic Places; wrote three grants for purchase and numerous grants for studies and operation.
  • Belle Baldwin House at Fern Cove: Completed landmark nomination, member of Fern Cove Planning Committee, wrote grant for dairy barn rehab, initiated grant for archiving Belle Baldwin property, wrote slide show, exhibit for VPD, purchased Baldwin archives personally from antique shop in Ruston Way (sold by Heritage Assoc.)
  • Wingehaven Park, a.k.a. Twickenham (Winge family property), wrote study and slideshow on classical landscape design.
  • Shawnee House, with Stacie Bennett, wrote King County Landmark Nomination.
  • Pt. Robinson Lighthouse, wrote historic study, authored ISTEA grant for Vashon Parks District; authored, with Stacie Bennett, research specifications for roof restoration; recommendations were not followed by the Park District.
  • Hjelmer Steen House, 10924 S.W. Cove Road, conducted majority of research and edited landmarks nomination.
  • 50th Anniversary of World War II Celebration, conducted extensive oral interviews and published “Vashon Vets Remember”
  • “An Evening of Historic Costume,” wrote text, provided most of costume, produced historic fashion show in Steen House.