“A Century of Schools on the Hill”
by Dorothy McBride, Donald McNichols Lit D, Marion Parker, Kim Turner, Elizabeth Whitmire, Kay Yamamoto
PUBLIC ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, AND HIGH SCHOOLS
by Dorothy McBride, Marion Parker, Kim Turner, Elizabeth Whitmire, Kay Yamamoto
In the 1890s Seattle was a frontier seaport. By contrast, within the decade following the Alaska Gold Rush, Seattle was a fast-growing city, well known as a good place to settle down, raise children, and live well. This change in image was tied in part to the foresight and intelligent planning by the city’s educational community. As the city expanded northward, early settlers on Queen Anne Hill took a keen and active interest in the establishment of schools in their area.
West Queen Anne School art class has a lesson in “the power of image selection,” circa 1914. Courtesy Washington State Historical Society
WEST QUEEN ANNE, 1889-1981
In 1889, the year of Washington’s statehood, the first public school was built on Queen Anne Hill. An unpretentious “shack school,” Queen Anne School, with grades one through three, was located on a clearing on a lot bounded by Gaylor (Galer) and Lee streets, and Anna and White streets (Fifth and Sixth Avenues W.). The older boys and girls continued to attend Denny School in Belltown until Mercer School opened in 1890.
In 1895 a six-room Romanesque-style brick building was constructed, and by 1902 six more classrooms for the higher grades were added. As principal of Queen Anne School in 1901, Adelaide Pollock became the first woman principal of a Seattle public school. She served until 1918 when she resigned to serve overseas with the Red Cross.
To ease the overcrowding which Queen Anne School was experiencing, an annex was built at the present site of Frantz H. Coe School in 1905, and the East Queen Anne annex was constructed in 1905 at the first John Hay School site. About 1908 the name Queen Anne School was changed to West Queen Anne School to avoid confusion with other schools being developed on the hill. Even with the annexes, enrollment continued to increase so quickly that by 1914 stair landings were used as study halls. The final addition of an auditorium and ten rooms was added in 1916. The auditorium, soon used as a meeting room and a polling place, aided the school’s recognition as a community asset.
West Queen Anne was to realize much change from the mid-1950s to the 1970s. To alleviate crowding in 1954-55, seventh and eighth grade classes from Queen Anne elementary schools were moved to the new Junior Hugh School opened in the Queen Anne High School building. When the Warren Avenue School was closed in 1959, West Queen Anne School was flooded by students from as far south as Stewart Street.
The decade of the 1960s was a period of stable enrollment. However, by 1970 enrollments began to decline rapidly, leaving empty classrooms. In 1977, in compliance with federal guidelines for desegregation, bussing became mandatory. This resulted in West Queen Anne becoming a K-3 school, with the fourth through sixth grades being bussed out of the area.
Culminating a long struggle on the part of the community to prevent West Queen Anne School’s closure, in 1975 the building was entered on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1977, it was also declared a Seattle City Landmark. To celebrate this occasion and the building’s 80th anniversary, the P.T.A. held an open house attended by over 700 people.
In 1981, despite opposition from the community, West Queen Anne was closed, as were North Queen Anne Elementary and Queen Anne High School. The closures were an economic necessity for the Seattle School District. In 1984 West Queen Anne was converted to 49 condominiums.
For nearly 90 years, the halls, classrooms, and playgrounds of West Queen Anne Elementary School served the needs of the hilltop community, wearing their age proudly and gracefully.
During the Great Depression, an elaborate banking procedure was installed in a West Queen Anne classroom converted to a unique “Banking Room” which was operated by seventh and eight grade student tellers. This city-wide program, which continued until 1974, was sponsored by the Washington Mutual Savings Bank, and it taught children to save regularly. Courtesy Seattle Public School Archives
Learning to Keep a Store
In 1978, Follow Through, a continuation of preschool Head Start, was placed at West Queen Anne, sharing the building with the regular student body. In 1979, Follow Through students operated a classroom store, using Nelsen’s Grocery as their wholesaler. With the cooperation of restaurateur Victor Rossellini, the class was able to use the store profits for the learning experience of dining in a fine restaurant.
MERCER SCHOOL, 1890-1931
In 1890 the Mercer School was built at Fourth Avenue N. and Valley Street on Mercer’s donation claim. Almost immediately overcrowded, an addition and an annex were built in 1892. Considered Seattle’s finest school in 1892, the Mercer School was a part of the Seattle exhibit at the International Columbian Exposition, Chicago, as an example of Seattle’s modern education facilities.
Mercer School was named for Thomas D. Mercer, the Queen Anne pioneer whose four young daughters Mary Jane, Eliza, Suzie, and Alice were the first school children on Queen Anne Hill. In the 1850s they attended Catherine Blaine’s home school and then the Territorial University, which offered secondary education. Photo taken circa 1900. Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society
Following the construction of Western Avenue School in 1902, enrollment at Mercer declined. The building was closed as a regular school in 1931, but continued to be used as an adjustment school until 1940. It was next used as a training school for district custodians, until it was finally removed in 1948 to make way for the School District’s new Administrative and Service Center.
INTERBAY SCHOOL, 1901-1930
The Salmon Bay School Annex was built in 1901 at 16th Avenue W. and Barrett Street. In 1902 the name was changed to Interbay Annex, and operated under the supervision of the Salmon Bay School (now Lawton School) . In 1903 an eight-room permanent Interbay School building opened for classes, with Miss L. Maxine Kelly as principal, at a monthly salary of $105, and five teachers.
Miss Kelly, during her twenty-nine year tenure, reported on the delights of working with a study population which she titled “a melting pot of nationalities.” Included were Russians, Latvians, Austrians, Germans, Lithuanians, Icelanders, and Norwegians. There was even an ethnic mix among the teachers, some from the British Isles, Denmark, and “one Manx.”
In 1916 a kindergarten was added, and in 1920 the enrollment peaked at 519 students. With the opening of the Magnolia School and St. Margaret’s Parochial School, Interbay’s enrollment declined and the school was closed in 1932.
Although it lived a short life, Interbay had its share of unusual happenings. Miss Kelly once heard an odd noise and rescued the janitor caught in the fan room pulley. Later there was a tragic electrocution of a workman on the roof of a portable. Built near tide flats, the southwest corner of the school grounds was a swampy area. The Mothers’ Club and local area citizens made repeated requests to have this problem corrected for reasons of sanitation and safety; the problem continued without permanent solution until 1935, when the drainage was finally completed.
WARREN AVENUE SCHOOL, 1902-1959
Warren Avenue School was built as a 12-room school in 1902 on David Denny’s Home Addition, bounded by Harrison and Republican streets, Second Avenue N., and Warren Avenue. In 1914 eight rooms were added. From its early years, Warren Avenue offered special education for the visually-impaired students of Seattle’s elementary schools.
The Warren Avenue school prospered, and one area of success was in athletics. For example, in 1939 the Warren Avenue school teams were Seattle Grade School Champions in both soccer and baseball. Student enrollments were strong, and by 1959 the school’s enrollment required seven portables. However, that year the school was razed to make room for the Coliseum, built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Trees from the Warren Avenue School playgrounds can still be seen bordering the Seattle Center’s International Fountain.
COE SCHOOL, 1905-PRESENT
In 1905 two temporary buildings were constructed at 2433 Sixth Avenue W. as an annex to Queen Anne School. In 1907 an eight-room, two-story building in Ionic Colonial style was erected with capacity for about 390 students. At this time the average class was 39 pupils and the school had 355 enrolled.
The school was named Frantz H. Coe Elementary School, honoring a prominent physician who served on the School Board from 1901 to 1904, and whose wife was also active in school and community affairs. By 1919 an eight-room wing was added to the building’s north side and the school had eighteen teachers and 575 students. Encouraged by their teachers to participate in national events, in 1931 Coe student Grant Crouch wrote Admiral Richard Byrd a letter which was included in a volume presented to Byrd upon his return from the South Pole. Grant told Byrd, “I want to congratulate you on your kindness to dumb animals. You could easily have left those dogs down there and brought the airplanes back, but deep down in your heart those dogs were worth more to you than all the airplanes in the world.”
By 1950 eight grade students were moved to the Junior High School at Queen Anne High, followed in 1955 by the seventh-graders. Serving as principal from 1954 to 1972, Ernest Bartol was noted for his strong leadership and innovative programs, including the addition of a gymnasium and a learning resource center in 1972.
Inga Ewbank is a well-remembered and beloved Coe teacher whose Seattle teaching career began inn the mid-forties. In the Fall of 1959 kindergartens ere eliminated because of the failure of a school levy, and Ewbank as recruited by local parents to organize and instruct in a private kindergarten in the Queen Anne area. The following year she began her kindergarten teaching career at Coe School, retiring in 1976. Up to the time of her death in 1992 at age 82, Mrs. Ewbank was an active substitute teacher as well as an outstanding volunteer in community and church projects. She left behind a legacy of love and caring.
The Asian Scholar’s Garden
As part of the School District’s overall desegregation program, Asian immigrant adjustment classes were offered at Coe School. To further the school’s unique relationship with its sister school in Chongqing, China, the Asian scholar’s garden was completed in 1991 on the north side of the school yard. A plaque in the Asian garden advises:
If you are planning for a year, sow rice.
If you are planning for a decade, sow trees.
If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people
– Old Chinese proverb
JOHN HAY SCHOOL, 1905-PRESENT
A shack school known as East Queen Anne Annex of Queen Anne School was built on the block bounded by Bigelow and Fourth Avenue N. and Crockett and Newton streets in 1905, and served first- and second-grade pupils. An imposing two-and-a-half-story, eight-room building with octagonal towers framing the entrance was completed on the site.
A unique early feature of the school was the open-air room where windows were kept open year-round. For years the principal routinely took VIP visitors to the attic to see the panoramic view. It was named John M. Hay Elementary school, in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary, who later became Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. The school received an oil portrait of John Hay from his widow, which has always hung in the school.
Between 1914 and 1922 the school’s burgeoning enrollment resulted in adding rooms and portables. In 1922, a one-story brick building with nine classrooms and a combination auditorium/lunchroom and two play courts was completed on Boston Street. Despite the distance separating the old and new buildings, both were used for classes. Depression-era cutbacks ended plan to demolish the original school building, which today is used by an alternative education program.
Between 1930 and 1940 the enrollment remained at 500 to 550 pupils. After World War II it increased to approximately 600, where it remained, despite the transfer of the seventh and eighth grades to Queen Anne Junior High School. A memory of those at John Hay in 1948 was the broadcast of Art Linkletter’s “House Party” in December from the school. This was a popular nation-wide radio show, and students and faculty alike were excited and proud.
By 1977 only kindergarten through third grade were taught at John Hay, due to bussing conforming to district desegregation plans, and enrollment dropped drastically. Under Principal Louise McKinney, the Early Childhood Education Program was introduced to the Seattle school system at John Hay. This highly-individualized learning program proved to be a drawing card, and enrollment increased to nearly 500 over the next three years.
By the late 1980s, the old buildings no longer met student needs, and a new John Hay School was built on Luther Field, the old Queen Anne High School athletic field, and opened in January 1989. In September 1990 elementary school grade configurations were changed to include K-5, with the sixth grades attending the middle school. In 1990, as a way of encouraging environmental awareness and the value of recycling, the PTA decided to create a wildlife habitat on the east side of the school. The students took over the recycling, composting, and caring for the garden.
ORTHOPEDIC SCHOOL, 1912-1953
Desiring accreditation for its teaching program at the hospital, in 1912 the staff of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (COH) requested from the Seattle School Board the assignment of a regular teacher. The hospital and detention school was given a half-time teacher. Slowly the Orthopedic staff grew to four full-time teachers. To clear any doubt as to the legality of the classes at COH, a Seattle judge decided that this facility be “construed as an annex to nearby John Hay Elementary School and to be under the supervision of the Principal.”
It was a red-letter day in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt visited the hospital. Students from John Hay School, waving flags, greeted him as his party drove slowly down the street and up to the hospital entrance. In 1948 there were 55 patient/pupils at the hospital and its annex, a small facility on Lawton bluff. The John Hay/COH partnership ended when the hospital moved to its new north end location in 1953.
NORTH QUEEN ANNE ELEMENTARY, 1913-1981
Beginning in a storefront laundry building at the southeast corner of Florentia Street and Dexter Avenue, the North Queen Anne School soon moved into a new four-room brick building that was completed at 2919 First Avenue W.
Teacher Cora Hale Gavett recalled years later:
There were no electric lights, no telephone, and no principal. … Mr. E.C. Roberts, principal at Ross School. across the present Canal, shared his administrative time with us at North Queen Anne, where he would come every two weeks. The cutting down of the high bluff to the south of us to make way for the tiny school yard left a very high dirt wall, topped with the original trees of the forest. It was so dark in midwinter that there were times that I stood by the window and read to the children to save their eyes. Reading classes were lined up against the window so they could see.
The school’s Parent-Teacher Association, organized in 1916, was an active force in the school and north slope community, and was instrumental in the 1930s in closing the hazardous sandpit located near the school.
One of the beloved and well-remembered teachers is Miss Laura Deringer. A graduate of Seattle Seminary, she spent 36 of her 48 teaching years at North Queen Anne. She is recalled by former pupils from her 8th grade class in 1931 as a tiny person, wearing her hair drawn back in a tight bun, pince-nez glasses, and in complete control of the classroom — just a few taps of her pencil on the desk and the room was “at attention!” Long retired, in 1993 she was 102 years old.
The school grew steadily, requiring an eight-room addition in 1933. In 1944 the eighth grade was transferred to the new Queen Anne Eighth Grade Center.
At the beginning of World War II, the school served as community headquarters where citizens registered for ration books to obtain scarce commodities, i.e., gasoline, sugar, meat, shoes, etc. A war bond and stamp drive was held from March 1 to May 15, 1943. This “Jeep Drive” netted $4,849.60, enough to purchase five jeeps.
Marking its 50th anniversary in 1964, economic necessity forced the closure of North Queen Anne in 1981. It was leased to the Northwest Center for the Retarded for use as an Early Childhood Education Center in 1983.
McCLURE MIDDLE SCHOOL, 1964-PRESENT
Principal Warren Arnhart welcomed the first students to the newly-constructed Worth McClure Junior High at 1915 First Avenue W. in September 1964. Most of the teachers transferred from the Queen Anne Junior Senior High School. Principal Arnhart had worked closely with the school architect, Ed Mahlum, which resulted in an extremely functional building on a sub-sized site, selected because of the adjacent Community Center and playfield, which the school shared with the Seattle Parks Department.
The school is named for Worth McClure, Seattle School District Superintendent from 1930 to 1944. A trimester plan, as contrasted with the traditional two-semester system, was put in place, and students progressed very well, with seven out of the top ten graduating seniors from Queen Anne High School being from McClure for many years.
McClure students have distinguished over the years by a variety of successful projects, including putting out the Maverick, a school newspaper, an “International Tasting Party” and accompanying cookbook, and an award-winning jazz band.
The year 1981 was one of change for Queen Anne Hill, with the closure of the high school and two elementary schools. McClure became a middle school, changing its grade configurations to sixth through eighth. Magnolia students began attending McClure with the closing of Catherine Blaine Junior High.
McClure Middle School is proud of its multiracial student body, and in 1987 the Multi-International Colors Society (MICS) was formed by the students with Dolly Turner, Math/Computer Science head, as faculty adviser. The group’s activities have grown to include year-long service and outreach activities; canned food drives for Northwest Harvest; a Math-a-thon for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital; Christmas Magic, a children’s holiday charity; “Bite of McClure,” a fundraiser for UNICEF; and an annual Spring Ethnic Week celebration. MICS continues to foster leadership skills, parental involvement in projects, and community responsibility.
One of McClure’s outstanding teachers was Michael Kemp-Slaughter, an avid historian. His Washington State history students researched, wrote, published, and sold a 32-page booklet commemorating the 18th-century voyages of Captain George Vancouver, and funds were thus raised for a historical marker to honor this famed Northwest explorer. In 1986, Kemp-Slaughter’s students organized the dedication ceremony for the installation of the marker at Phelps Park-Marshall Viewpoint on Queen Anne Boulevard. The dedication involved the entire McClure School student body, community residents, and city officials.
SCHOOLS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS
Established by Seattle Public Schools in the Fall of 1991 for grades 6-8, New Options Middle School (NOMS) is a multi-cultural learning community which takes “global citizenship” as its central theme, providing an alternative program of solid academic learning. It is located in the old John Hay School at 411 Boston Street. Since 1970 the behaviorally and emotionally disturbed children served by the Seattle Children’s Home have been taught at the Home in the McGraw School, an accredited elementary school.
QUEEN ANNE HIGH SCHOOL, 1909-1959
Queen Anne High School opened its doors at Second Avenue N. and Galer Street in September 1909 to 613 students and 33 teachers. Under 28-year-old Otto T. Luther, Principal, the teaching staff included Winona Bailey, noted international mountaineer and Latin expert; Samuel E. Fleming, history instructor and later Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools from 1945 to 1956; J. Harlan Bretz, science instructor and geologist; and Benno J. Uhl, German instructor, whose teaching style endeared him to generations of students, and who wrote the first school song.
At the school dedication, February 1910, Principal Luther declared, “Queen Anne High School exemplifies the democratization of the high school and brings vigorously to mind the thought that a high school education is now within the reach of all. The high school is the people’s college.”
Students flocked to Queen Anne High School, which was viewed as the newest and best in Seattle, from as far away as Port Orchard. The first decade saw Queen Anne gain wide recognition in interscholastic sports, debate, and dramatics.
Queen Anne High School supported the World War I effort with over 250 students and alumni serving in the armed forces by May 1918. Students still enrolled formed the Queen Anne “School Guard,” a voluntary military organization. The war over, the first alumni reunion was held on March 26, 1920, which the Queen Anne News reported as marked by good music, speeches, and a “riot of fun.” In 1921 the monthly school paper, the Kuay, became a weekly under the guidance of O.D. Stoddard.
A tradition of a gift to the school from the graduating class existed in the early years, such as the 1922 gift of a hall clock, which now hangs in the School District Archives.
In 1926, the school was greatly expanded by the addition of a new auditorium, a boys’ gymnasium, a botany laboratory and greenhouse, 12 classrooms, and a music room. The 1,500-seat auditorium, dedicated November 22, 1928, was the finest in Seattle schools.
Long-time teachers who joined the faculty in the 1920s included Willard O. Baker, whose Radio Club students built the High School’s first amateur radio station, and Arthur Shelton, physics and general science teacher, whose career spanned 35 years. They joined ranks which already included Mabel Furry, women’s physical education teacher for 45 years, an accomplished photographer and well-known member of the Mountaineers, and Felix E. Moore, who is remembered by many as a “real character,” a science teacher and boys’ advisor serving 30 years.
The years of World War II saw attendance requirements relaxed. Some students interrupted their high school careers to join the armed forces or to work in war industries, and later returned to complete their secondary education. By the Spring of 1945 over 2,400 Queen Anne alumni/students had joined the services, and 77 had given up their lives.
In 1955 Queen Anne High was renamed Queen Anne Junior-Senior High. Construction completed in the same year included a shop, a home economics wing, music rooms, and a new lunchroom. In 1958 a new athletic field, named the Otto L. Luther Memorial Field, was developed across from the high school with the old student hangout, The Grizzly Inn, being razed in the process.
Dramatics and music continued to be an important part of the school’s curriculum. The Cantorians under Eugene Brown’s direction, won awards in Northwest music festivals, and there were few stage productions which did not draw capacity crowds to Queen Anne’s auditorium. Students in Gordon Mauerman’s Laboratory Writing Course began publication in 1960 of a literary magazine, Paw Prints, which continued into the 1970s as a showcase for student talent.
Grizzly logo. In 1930 the student body selected the grizzly bear as the school logo, and in 1932 the school yearbook was named The Grizzly. Courtesy Queen Anne Alumni Assoc.
In the 1950s Principal George Farmer and his successor William Hall had to deal with rapid social change and student unrest. With the support of the faculty, the students formed a controversial “Queen Anne Student Union” to examine current issues of concern. A new gymnasium was built across Second Avenue N. in 1961, and the well-remembered Marie Hawkins, school secretary since 1917, retired the same year. In 1964 crowding was relieved with the transfer of students to McClure Junior High School.
A rash of vandalism in the late 1960s, including two unsuccessful firebomb attempts on the school, prompted stronger student discipline.
In the early 1970s, after being neglected in favor of support for boys’ sports, girls’ athletics began to gain deserved recognition and funding. Starting in 1977, the women’s volleyball team won the city title for three consecutive years.
On June 6, 1981, over 15,000 alumni and friends assembled from far and near for the “Last Hurrah,” a grand farewell celebration. The day’s program included a nostalgic assembly and show in the auditorium, the opportunity for a final tour of the building, and the sharing of memories with old friends. In its 72 years, slightly under 24,000 students had graduated from “Queen Anne High School on the Hilltop.”
QUEEN ANNE HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
In the Fall following the school’s closure, a formal Queen Anne High School Alumni Association, with Maxine Amundson McMahan as its prime mover, was formed. The Alumni Association mails over 10,000 copies of its annual newsletter, the Kuay, edited by John Hennes for most of its life. It also holds an annual banquet, and has provided annual competitive scholarships for descendants of Queen Anne alumni, all as part of its purpose to preserve the legacy of Queen Anne High School.
Erwin Henkel, “Henk” to his students, arrived in 1926. His six-foot four-inch physique and booming voice intimidated generations of young boys in his roles of coach, gym teacher, and drill sergeant who “turned boys into men.” No one ever forgot Erwin Henkel. Henk died in 1988 at age 85.
References re Queen Anne High School:
*Michael Herschensohn, “Patterns of Change: Reading the History of Queen Anne Schools”
*Urban Living re Queen Anne High conversion to condos in 2007
SACRED HEART CATHOLIC SCHOOL, 1891-1969
The first parish school in Seattle, Sacred Heart School, was opened in 1891 by Father Sigl, and was located on top of Denny Hill at what is now Sixth Avenue and Bell Street. The school flourished as Seattle grew, and by 1903 there were 400 pupils. The church, school, and convent were relocated in 1927 to Warren Avenue and John Street due to the regrading of Denny Hill.
St. Anne School, 1953. A First Communion class with Fr. Thomas Quain. Courtesy Mickey Canan
As the parish had fewer children of school age, Sacred Heart School began to accept children from other parishes, and by 1968, of the 170 children enrolled, only 13 were Sacred Heart parish members. The school closed in 1969.
However, in 1976 a new life began as the Lifetime Learning Center opened in the school, offering a wide range of classes to adults. Sharing the building since 1980 is the Little Friends Preschool. Thus students from both ends of the spectrum are still filling the school with activity and the joy of learning.
ST. MARGARET OF SCOTLAND CATHOLIC SCHOOL, 1923-1971
St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Parish opened a school in 1923 on W. Dravus Street. The school opened with 107 students taught by three sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. The children came from Smith Cove, Ross, Pleasant Valley, Magnolia, North and West Queen Anne as well as Interbay. Father Corboy, pastor for 46 years, guided the parish as the school was enlarged and modernized.
The geographical limitations of St. Margaret grew smaller, and in 1971, after 47 years, the school closed. In 1977 the site of the demolished school was made into a community park, named Corboy Park in memory of Fr. Corbaoy’s many years of service. Currently, the church, park, and rectory are used by the Seattle Catholic Polish community who are breathing new life into the St. Margaret of Scotland facilities.
ST. ANNE CATHOLIC SCHOOL, 1923-PRESENT
St. Anne School was built at 101 W. Lee Street, housing eight classrooms, three music rooms, lunchrooms, cloakrooms, and offices. The school opened on September 4, 1923, and was staffed by Sisters of the Holy Names with Sister Mary Thomasina as Superior and Principal. Fr. Thomas Quinn, pastor of St. Anne Parish, saw that there was no tuition charged for attending St. Anne School, in order to make a Catholic education available to all families regardless of income. St. Anne remained tuition-free until the 1982, when the cost of lay teachers’ salaries demanded a larger income to meet expenses.
Improvements over the years include a playground (1924), tennis courts (1931), and an annex at 108 W. Lee Street, with music rooms, an orchestra room, offices, and kindergarten rooms (1950) and an auditorium on the west side of the school (1950). St. Anne School has been dedicated to Christian education which combines religious, social, and cultural training with practical preparation for a successful life.
OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE COMMUNITY
The Queen Anne Christian School, located at 1716 Second Avenue N., was founded in 1979. The school is a ministry of the Queen Anne Christian Center, Assemblies of God. Serving kindergarten through twelfth grade, the school offers a program of learning with academic excellence for students of every ability.
Seattle Country Day School, 2619 Fourth Avenue N., was founded in 1963 by parents who desired an educational alternative. The school serves grades kindergarten through eighth grade and offers a “specialized education program dedicated to meeting the needs of intellectually gifted children with strong creative problem-solving abilities.” The head of the school in 1993 was Dr. Jayasri Ghosh.
Queen Anne School, at 1617 First Avenue W., was founded by Kathy Napolitano in 1987 as an independent elementary school serving children ages five to twelve. The school’s declared goal is “to help create confident, happy human beings by getting them off to the best possible educational start.”
THE COLLEGE AND QUEEN ANNE — SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
Seattle Pacific University (SPU) was founded by the Free Methodist Church as Seattle Seminary in 1891. It opened its doors to elementary students on April 4th on a five-acre plot between Third and Fifth Avenues W. and Cremona Street. The school had a single unfinished building, and its campus was a little more than a grazing area for the seminary cow. The next year secondary level education was added, followed by a college curriculum in 1910. Seattle Seminary was renamed Seattle Pacific College (SPC) in 1915 and was known by this name for the next 62 years.
Three men were designated by the trustees as founders: Nils B. Peterson, a resident homesteader in the Ross community who donated the original acreage from his garden plot; minister-banker John C. Norton, who chaired the committee of the Free Methodist Conference that recommended organizing a school; and Hiram Pease, who gave generously to and raised money for the school.
In 1891 Alexander and Adelaide Beers left their positions in a Virginia seminary to open Seattle Seattle Seminary. As the institution’s first president, Alexander Beers devoted his time and energy to raising money and developing facilities, while Adelaide focused on developing curricula and teaching. The new seminary immediately attracted many students, and between 1891 and 1916, three more buildings were constructed. Orrin I. Tiffany became the second president in 1916 and established the school as a college, despite the insecurities and crisis resulting from World War I in the next decade.
THE COLLEGE AND THE COMMUNITY
During these years, as the Queen Anne neighborhood grew up around Seattle Pacific, the relationship between the two communities was something like a marriage: there were times of harmony and times of acrimony. But from the perspective of more than a century, the affiliation has been warm and health, most often promoted by the common interests of young people.
Alexander Hall, the first building on the Seattle Seminary campus, 1891, was named for Alexander Beers, first president. Courtesy Seattle Pacific University
Danna Davis, an alumna who attended Seattle Pacific from grade school through college graduation (1923-1939) recalls good times when (SPC) students and neighborhood young people played together:
In the 30s, students would bobsled down Third Avenue W. All the local kids got involved, from SPC and Queen Anne. It was scary but fun. The driver would be down full length on the sled and people piled on top of him — then off we’d go down Third. There’d be lookouts at Nickerson so no one would run into streetcars or go off the bank into the canal.
Miriam Marston Owen, alumna of SPC’s grade school, high school, and college, recalls that Seattle Pacific high school debaters challenged high school groups from all over the city, including nearby Queen Anne. The debates always aroused great community interest. Marston Hall is named for Miriam’s father, A. J. Marston, a long-term professor.
Under Dr. C. Hoyt Watson, president from 1926-1959, the college made significant progress, including the construction of a new Student Union Building and the Royal Brougham Pavilion and Queen Anne Bowl playing field. During 1939 and 1940 President Watson secured the portion of land adjacent to Third Avenue W. known as the Petersons’ sand pit. It was graded and developed with city cooperation, then deeded to the city with a 50-year lease for joint college and community use as a playfield. This idea of a dual use by SPC and the city was repeated later in developing Wallace Field adjacent to Brougham Pavilion.
President C. Dorr Demaray wanted SPC to become more of an integral part of Seattle and the Queen Anne community. Except for people working in religion, education, or nursing, most Seattle residents knew little of the college. The 1962 World’s Fair presented opportunities to advance Demaray’s goal. The president, together with many faculty and staff members, served on Fair planning committees. Later, college dormitory rooms were rented to visitors. In addition, the college worked with the Seattle Council of Churches in organizing and staffing the Christian Witness Pavilion as well as the Children’s Care Center.
In 1977 the college’s name was changed to Seattle Pacific University (SPU) and graduate and professional degree programs were offered. The university concept was largely the vision of Dr. David McKenna, whose 14 years of leadership, beginning in 1968, changed the school forever. A man of academic and theological stature, McKenna also possessed youthful vigor, skill in problem-solving, and effectiveness in the public arena.
Meanwhile, up the hill, Reverend Dick Denham watched has pews at Bethany Presbyterian fill with SPU students. “Over the years, the university blessed us with many wonderful young people.” Denham remembers the mix of SPU students and his Queen Anne congregation as a happy combination. “The students took a lot of responsibility in the day-to-day running of the church and got along well with the older members. For their part, established church members accepted the newcomers well. We were all fellow seekers.”
One of the most successful integrations of Seattle Pacific with the Queen Anne community has been through sports. SPU coordinates church softball, volleyball, and basketball leagues, where players are drawn from churches, neighborhoods, and the campus. Every Spring quarter, Wallace Field, near the canal, is opened up for community Little League practice and games.
GROWTH: COMMUNITY APPREHENSIONS OF SPU’S MASTER PLAN
Over time, the Queen Anne welcome mat had become frayed. An SPU trustee recalls that in the early 1970s, “Some people were afraid that SPU was going to dominate the area, taking over access to the canal, and create parking problems. The community council wanted Queen Anne to stay residential.”
The Master Plan was a detailed ten-year blueprint for growth which addressed the concerns of the community as well as charting the institution’s path. Dr. David C. LeShana assumed leadership in 1983 and oversaw much expansion as well as development of the Master Plan. After much negotiation, the plan which resolved most of the community’s fears, received approval from the Seattle City Council in 1991.
A happy antidote to the community’s anxieties regarding the university were the SPU students themselves, who annually continue to give hundreds of volunteer hours to Queen Anne community projects. In the 1980s and 1990s students regularly volunteer with the Queen Anne Helpline and the Fremont Public Association.
The Queen Anne community has shown support and friendship to the students in many ways. Lois Roby, owner of Salladay’s Pharmacy, observes,
We get a lot of business from SPU, and we like to support them. We take out ads in the Falcon student newspaper and we’re a sponsor for the annul SPU fashion shows. We get a lot of faculty members as customers, and the kids will come in asking for dorm prizes when they’re having some contest. It’s a two-way street and it goes well. They’re very honest people.
Since 1990, when Dr. Curtis A Martin, lifelong faculty member, became the university’s seventh president, SPU has enjoyed a stable enrollment of about 3,400. “Quality of education” is the university’s priority. A $10 million library is planned for construction in the 1990s, which will be a significant asset for the university and the community. Since the 1980s SPU has welcomed retired community members to university classes as auditors where they may broaden their education tuition-free. The generations of young people studying at the college on the north side of the hill have brought the energy and excitement of the young to a comfortable old neighborhood.
Dr. Donald McNichols is a retired Professor Emeritus of History at Seattle Pacific University and the author of Seattle Pacific University, A Growing Vision 1891-1991.
Marion Parker, a retired librarian, attended are elementary schools and Queen Anne High (class of 1934) and the University of Washington (class of 1940). She was a staff member at the Queen Anne Branch Library for 24 years. Two sons have attended Queen Anne schools.
Kim Turner attended the Warren Avenue Elementary School and Queen Anne High School. A lifetime resident of Queen Anne Hill, Turner has worked for the Seattle Public Library for over thirty years in the Humanities Division.
Elizabeth Whitmire has been a resident of Queen Anne Hill for one year and is writing a science fiction book. A graduate of Evergreen State College and the Denver Publishing Institute, she freelances in publishing work while studying graphic art.
Kay Yamamoto is a native Seattleite and a Hill resident since 1939. An interest in Queen Anne’s history began with the children’s attendance at area schools, and grew during twenty-two years as a staff member at Queen Anne elementary schools.