Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Hamilton Middle School

  • Posted 9/07/2013
  • Essay 10520

This People's History of Alexander Hamilton Middle 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 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.

Alexander Hamilton Middle School

The roots of Hamilton can be traced to a resolution presented to the Seattle School Board on July 1, 1919, establishing a department for intermediate education. At the time, both elementary and high schools suffered from overcrowding, and the intermediate school (for grades 7-8) offered a solution. Intermediate-age enrollment in Seattle School District increased by 78.5 percent between 1910 and 1923.

A site for a new intermediate school was purchased in 1920, but funds for construction had to await passage of three bond issues. The location near both Interlake School and Lincoln High School meant that these north end schools could reduce their burgeoning enrollments. A group from the Wallingford neighborhood requested the school be named Wallingford Intermediate School. However, the board chose to name the school for Alexander Hamilton, statesman and first Secretary of the Treasury, in accordance with its policy of commemorating notable Americans.

Hamilton Intermediate School was the first school building in Seattle to be designed specifically for intermediate education. At the center of the structure was a lecture room, a lunchroom/stage, and kitchen. Surrounding the core were three floors of classrooms, corridors, and gymnasiums.

The school was completed on January 28, 1927 and opened three days later. Beginning a new semester in their spacious new accommodations were 725 seventh and eighth graders from Interlake, Day, Latona, Ross, and McDonald. Principal George Austin moved from Interlake to head the new school. The following year the next class of 7th graders arrived and the school housed all three intermediate grades. That year enrollment reached 1,274, which remained the peak until the early 1950s when nearly 1,400 students attended the school.

Hamilton's building was designed for a large capacity and has changed little in its exterior appearance. A 1970 remodeling project added a new learning resource center, updated auditorium, physical education facilities, new lockers, and student services offices.

In 1971, four junior high schools, including Hamilton, were converted to middle schools (grades 6-8) as part of an early desegregation plan. Classes in the middle school followed the "continuous progress" method, which emphasized individualized learning and team teaching.

In 1972-73, Hamilton was paired with Meany-Madrona Middle School for voluntary desegregation. When too few students volunteered, a mandatory program was implemented.

During the 1970s, the school began a tradition of holding an annual multiethnic dinner, where student artwork was displayed. A spring camp enabled two-thirds of the student body to participate in outdoor education.

Today Hamilton focuses on reading, math, and language arts. The 7th graders won the district-wide Math Olympiad in 1993. An apprenticeship program for 8th graders began that same year. Students spend a class period at a local business to learn how businesses operate and what they look for in employees. Curriculum highlights include aerodynamics and rockets, the workings of the stock market, and U.S. government procedures. Beginning in the fall of 2000, Hamilton will become an international school, offering intensive foreign language instruction and a focus on global studies as a follow-up to the John Stanford
International School @ Latona.


Name: Alexander Hamilton Intermediate School
Location: 1610 N 41st Street
Building: 41-room, 3-story brick
Architect: Floyd A. Naramore
Site: 1.9 acres
1925: Named on July 24
1927: Opened on January 31
1929: Changed to Alexander Hamilton Junior High School
1970: Remodeled
1971: Changed to Alexander Hamilton Middle School

Alexander Hamilton Middle School in 2000
Enrollment: 740
Address: 1610 N 41st Street
Nickname: Hawks
Configuration: 6-8
Colors: Blue and yellow
Newspaper: Hamilton News
Yearbook: Hamilton


Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002).

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