Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Pinehurst Primary School

  • Posted 9/11/2013
  • Essay 10575

This People's History of Pinehurst Primary 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.

Pinehurst Primary School

Pinehurst Primary School in the Shoreline School District No. 412 was late in opening in 1950, as workers scrambled to complete the painting and other last-minute details. Although it was just a K-3 facility, it opened with 230 students.

By 1952, attendance had grown so much that the school was forced into double sessions (see Northgate School). Plans for an addition were hurriedly started. Shortly after construction began, the school became part of the Seattle School District. The school was expanded by four classrooms and an auditorium-lunchroom. The configuration also changed to a K-6 curriculum, and enrollment at Pinehurst Elementary shot up to almost 400. In 1953, kindergarten classes were forced to move to the Pinehurst Annex established in the Victory Heights Club House at 18th Avenue NE and NE 105th Street.

In September 1954, five portables were opened on the school playground, and the annex was closed. Enrollment peaked that year at 560. Portables remained until September 1958, when a second addition opened with six more classrooms and a gymnasium. In 1969-70, two special education classes were added.

By July 1973, talks were underway on the need to close some of the smaller schools, such as Pinehurst. Pinehurst began the next school year with 270 regular students and three classes of learning-language disability students.

At this time, the 4.5-acre tract west of the school was slowly taking shape as an outdoor classroom with the planting of approximately 250 trees. A teaching station, large enough for a single class, was readied. In September 1974, a portion of the outdoor classroom was leased to the City of Seattle for use in the P-Patch Program.

In September 1976, Pinehurst was readied to absorb about 140 students from Northgate, which had closed the previous spring. The two learning-language disability classes were moved to Sacajawea. Six days before school started, Northgate was reopened, leaving Pinehurst with five empty rooms. Enrollment fell to just 196 in 1980-81 and Pinehurst was closed as a regular elementary school.

In September 1984, Alternative School #1 opened at Pinehurst, having moved from its previous home at Gatzert. The building also housed one of the district's Parent Information Centers.

Today, Alternative School #1 specializes in learning through experience. All classes (K-8) include a mix of grade levels with fewer than 25 students per class. Kinesthetic (hands-on) and visual learning styles are the usual techniques. An environmental education program, including a wildlife habitat, has won national and local awards. Parent participation, including work on drama productions, is another key feature of the program. Over 100 days of the year are spent off-site on field trips.

Recently the school has developed a maritime program in which students build and race model sailboats and canoes. It is the only public school in the country with a yacht club.


Name: Pinehurst Primary School
Location: 11530 12th Avenue NE
Building: 6-room brick
Architect: Mallis & DeHart
Site: 3.9 acres
1950: Opened by Shoreline School District
1953: Annexed into Seattle School District; renamed Pinehurst Elementary School; addition (Mallis & DeHart)
1955-56: Site expanded to 7.57 acres
1958: Addition (Mallis & DeHart)
1981: Closed in June
1984: Reopened in September as alternative school site

Alternative School #1 @ Pinehurst in 2000
Enrollment: 249
Address: 11530 12th Avenue NE
Nickname: Wolverines
Configuration: K-8
Colors: Purple and gold


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

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