Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Viewlands Elementary School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10603

This People's History of Viewlands Elementary 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.

Viewlands Elementary School

By 1911, Children in the western part of the Oak Lake School District No. 51 had to cross a highway and interurban tracks to get to Oak Lake School. For the safety of younger children, a one-room schoolhouse was built at 105th and Greenwood for grades 1-2. This "Little Green School" remained open after World War I. The Bethel Presbyterian Church held services there in 1919.

In the early 1950s, Shoreline School District No. 412 planned a school in the same area to relieve overcrowding at Broadview School. The school, named Viewlands for its site overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, was under construction when it was annexed to the City of Seattle on July 1, 1954. It opened as a Seattle Public School with an enrollment of 584 pupils, mainly from Broadview, Oak Lake, Greenwood, and Crown Hill. Because enrollment was larger than expected, the room originally planned for use as a library was converted into a classroom.

An expanded learning resource center opened in September 1972, along with a portable that housed an activity center and a double portable used for PE classes. At the same time, two special education classes started at Viewlands. In 1974-75, three classes of neurologically impaired children were moved there and enrolled in regular classrooms.

A pilot program started in a resource room with three teachers and an aide to provide help and enrichment for all handicapped children at the school. In 1982, Viewlands received about 100 students from the closing of Oak Lake School, and enrollment grew to 397. The school remained K-6 through 1988.

In the early 1990s, parents, teachers and staff worked together to create a strategic plan for the school. This plan set goals for reform and, over a period of several years, many innovative programs have been initiated at Viewlands. Results are seen in rising test scores and increased reading among all students. Parent participation remains an important ingredient in the success of these programs.

Situated above Carkeek Park, the school is perfectly situated to use the park's nature trail, installed behind the school in 1983. Community volunteers maintain the trail and actively work to improve the quality of Piper's Creek and preserve its salmon runs. Viewlands pupils participate in the planting of native trees and shrubs.

Viewlands is also one of the schools participating in the Salmon in the Classroom program. Students raise chum salmon in the classroom and release them into Piper's Creek. Each November students walk over to view the returning salmon swim up the creek.

New after school activities include French, Spanish, and dance classes. An annual talent show in which all children are invited to participate takes place every spring.


Name: Viewlands Elementary School
Location: 10525 3rd Avenue NW
Building: 1-story concrete block
Architect: Mallis & DeHart
Site: 7.5 acres
1954: Opened on September 8

Viewlands Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 330
Address: 10523 3rd Avenue NW
Mascot: Bear
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Red and white


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

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