This People's History of Concord School is taken from Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. That book, published in 2002 by Seattle Public Schools, compiled profiles of all the public school buildings that had been used by the school district since its formation around 1862. The profiles from the book are being made available as People's Histories on HistoryLink.org courtesy of Seattle Public Schools. It should be noted that these essays are from 2000. Some of the buildings profiled are historic, some of recent vintage, and many no longer exist (new names and buildings not included in these profiles from 2000 have been added), but each plays or has played an important role in the education of Seattle's youth.
The first school in the South Park neighborhood was called South Park School. It was opened in 1902 or earlier and became part of the Seattle School District in 1907.
South Park School sat at the bottom of a hill. A slough immediately adjacent to the school proved to be an irresistible temptation to adventurous boys on their way to school. Many explored it on tipsy rafts and had to explain why they were tardy and dripping wet.
In 1909, the school board purchased another site in the South Park neighborhood, on Concord Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues S. Three years later, they voted to build a new fireproof brick school there to relieve the overcrowding at South Park School. The new school was named Concord School because it faced Concord Street. This school sat atop a hill. The Concord building was in the Colonial Revival style, identical to McGilvra and McDonald.
On January 25, 1914, some 200-300 of the students at South Park cleared out their desks and, with books and supplies in hand, began the long march to their new school. As they neared their destination, they heard the first streetcar crossing the new bridge across the Duwamish River on Eighth Avenue S.
The first recess at the new school was a disaster, for the school ground was a morass of sticky mud. Pupils who played in it soon were unrecognizable and sent home to clean up. Those who ventured off the grounds found they were easily lost in the unfamiliar surroundings of ferns and hazelnut bushes that covered the hillside. The principal, F. C. Jackson, who had been at South Park School, quickly established new rules and regulations.
Concord was transformed from a grade 1-8 school to a K-6 school in 1927-28 with the opening of the combined junior and senior high school at Cleveland. The seventh grade returned for just the 1931-32 year. In September 1932, students from the annex were placed at Concord and South Park was closed. Enrollment peaked in 1958-59 with 516 students.
By 1960, six portables stood on the Concord grounds. A gymnasium and multipurpose room were added in 1971, and the number of portables was reduced to three.
In 1990, a surprise discovery was made when a chalkboard was being removed to install bulletin boards. Beneath the chalkboard was an older blackboard that had been decorated by a sixth grade class in June 1938. Three colored-chalk drawings depicted scenes from Norway, Portugal, and Italy. The six artists signed under the pictures, while the other 20 members of the graduating class signed in lists between the paintings. The discovery led to a reunion event with teachers and some of the students from the 1938 class.
As part of their world cultures program, students built a model Mayan village, learning math, agriculture, government, and fine arts in the process. In fall 1997, Concord became a model school for the Different Ways of Knowing Program that combines social studies and the arts. Its Attic Theater Program brings all students into integrated drama, dance, and cultural studies.
The present-day South Park neighborhood is a multiethnic community by the Duwamish River in an industrial zone. The South Park Community Center is located on the site of the former South Park School. Concord became an ESL/Bilingual Center in 1996-97, and today over 17 percent of the students are in the ESL program. A high percentage of students at Concord are Hispanic. The school is one of the district's world culture centers and focuses on Latin America.
During the 1999-2000 school year, a major construction project was underway at Concord. The existing facility was partially demolished and renovated, along with construction of an addition (designed by Tsang Partnership) containing a gym/multipurpose room and several classrooms. Students will return to their improved building on the enlarged 4.21-acre site in September 2000 after spending a year at Hughes.
Name: South Park
Location: 12th S between Sullivan & Thistle
Building: 8-room, 2-story wood
Site: 0.85 acres
ca 1902: Opened
1907: Annexed into Seattle School District
1914 -32: Operated as an annex of Concord
1938: Building demolished
n.a.: Site sold, given or traded to parks board
Present: Site of South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S)
Name: Concord School
Location: 723 S Concord Street
Building: 9-room, 3-story brick
Architect: Edgar Blair
Site: 1.43 acres
1913: Named on February 24
1915: Opened on January 25
1928: Site expanded to 1.93 acres
1945: Site expanded to 3.44 acres
1971: Addition (Shavey & Schmidt)
1998: 1913 exterior and first floor entrance stairwell designated City of Seattle landmark on February 18
1999: Closed for construction
Concord School in 2000
Address: 722 S Concord Street
Configuration: K -5