We always called it the “Haunted Mansion” or “The Green Mansion.” You could not see it from the road but it was visible from Lake Sammamish if you were in a boat. I believe it butted up beside the Lewis property on the southwest end of the lake, not far from Lake Sammamish State Park. It was lake front property, completely covered in vines and blackberries, but we were always able to find our way to the house by following a small trail from the lake. It was a mansion to us (3 stories, I think, plus a basement and an attic) a brick exterior, fireplaces, and I still remember the flocked wallpaper in the living room.”
John Nivett Shaw married Gertrude Fagan in 1896, and the couple settled in Seattle in 1899. Between 1899 and at least 1938, John Shaw was the president of the Commercial Importing Company, which imported and sold coffee and spices under the names Corona Coffee and Hollywood Spices. Passenger documents available at Ancestry.com show that the Shaws frequently traveled by boat to a variety of destinations, including New York City, Vancouver BC, Tokyo, and Honolulu. Obituaries for both John and Gertrude Shaw note a Seattle address (1226 22nd Avenue), suggesting that the mansion on Lake Sammamish was not their primary residence. According to the King County property records, the house at 1226 22nd Avenue E, on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, is 7,000 square feet in size and was built in 1920.
The Shaws probably acquired their Lake Sammamish property sometime between the 1930s and late 1940s. However, it was never their primary place of residence. Dan Greenwood, whose family owned land adjacent to the Shaws, recalled that the property was “very elaborate, with ponds, tennis courts, a boat house and a saw mill for the construction. You can still see remnants of the mill in the shallows along the shore. There was also a fancy multi-car garage next to the caretaker’s (Lars) residence.”
The story of a maid who drowned in a pool on the estate is well known, but difficult to substantiate. I wasn’t able to find any information to confirm the drowning, but there are several other stories of drowning accidents that may have become tangled up with the story of the Shaw family. Gertrude Fagan Shaw’s brother, Edmund, worked for the Commercial Importing Company. He died by drowning while on a fishing trip in Allyn, Mason County, Washington in 1939. There have also been a number of drowning deaths on Lake Sammamish over the years, including incidents of multiple drownings in 1907 and 1916. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to the question of what inspired the ghost story — at least, not yet.