Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Washington Middle School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10605

This People's History of Washington 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.

Washington Middle School

Few schools can look back in their history and find a grade school, a junior high school, and a high school. In fact, at its inception in 1906 as Franklin School, Washington had a dual purpose.

An impressive old-world style building opened in the 1906-07 school year as Franklin School, named for Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman and inventor. Not only did it house 316 students in grades 1-8, it also held the High School Annex, which moved to Franklin from Summit School. In 1907-08, the main school on Broadway was renamed Washington High School, so the upper-grades program at Franklin was renamed the Washington High School Annex.

When the high school was renamed Broadway in 1908-09, the program at Franklin became Franklin High School. With the increase in Seattle's high school enrollment, the elementary program was closed at Franklin, and the school operated solely as a high school from 1909-12.

When a new Franklin High School opened in the Mt. Baker neighborhood in September 1912, the school on Main Street reverted to a grade school. The name chosen, Washington School, derived from the high school program housed there in 1907-08. In addition to regular classes for grades 1-8, there were four special education classes under Nellie Goodhue. Kindergarten classes were added the following year. The School for the Deaf occupied four classrooms at Washington after it was moved there from Longfellow for the 1912-13 school year. The special education classes were transferred to Olympic Special School in 1917. The School for the Deaf moved to Minor on October 1, 1921.

Washington's enrollment averaged between 600 and 800 students, peaking at 890 during the 1931-32 school year. Principal Arthur G. Sears came to the school in 1928 because he wanted to work with immigrant children to ensure that they received a good education. At Washington, nearly half of the students were Japanese American. They were joined by large numbers of recently arrived European Jews as well as Chinese and Filipinos.

In September 1938, Washington became a 7th and 8th grade center with an enrollment of 706. With the addition of 9th graders in 1946-47, the school became George Washington Junior High.

Plans for building a new junior high school on a site near 23rd Avenue S and Jackson Street were announced in December 1958. After closing as a school, the old building became the district's Occupational Guidance Center, housing classes in English for the Foreign Born and Basic Reading, as well as Prevocational Classes, the Family Life Education Program, and the Manpower Development and Training Program.

By 1965-66, the old Washington building was part of Seattle Community College. In summer 1967, the property was divided in half, the south portion going to the Seattle School District and the north portion, which included the building, going to the newly independent Seattle Community College. In 1967-68, the district housed its Central Area Office on the site.

The new school building, designed to hold about 1,100 students, opened in 1963 with approximately 800 students. The campus was large and sprawling. On a lower level were the gymnasiums and music rooms.

In 1970, the junior high school was converted for use as an annex for Garfield High School and, for eight years, was known as Garfield B.

It housed academic and vocational education classes for high school students. A special program to help school-age parents continue their education began there in 1976-77. When Pacific School was declared unsafe, the Pacific Handicapped Program moved to Washington during Christmas break 1975-76.

In 1978, the school board decided that Madrona was needed again as an elementary school. In September that year, middle school students from Madrona were moved into the Washington building, which then became Washington Middle School. At the same time, the Pacific Handicapped Program was moved to Wilson.

Currently, Washington is the site for the district's middle school section of the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) for students who place in the top 1.5 percent on a standardized exam. The school also houses a special education program. Washington boasts an award-winning jazz band and orchestra. Its students also have won several statewide math competitions in recent years.


Name: Franklin School
Location: 18th Avenue S and Main Street
Building: 20-room wood frame and stucco
Architect: James Stephen
Site: 1.41 acres
1904: Site acquired
1906: Named on March 12; opened in September
1909: Became Franklin High School
1912: Became Washington School
1938: Became Washington 7th & 8th Grade Center
1946: Became George Washington Junior High School; site expanded to 2.4 acres
1963: Closed in June
1963-67: Occupational Guidance Center
n.a.: Demolished

Name: George Washington Junior High School
Location: 2101 S Jackson St
Building: 2-story
Architect: John Graham & Co.
Site: 18 acres
1958: Site acquired
1963: Opened
1970: Closed as junior high in June
1970-78: Operated as Garfield B
1978-: Became Washington Middle School in September

Washington Middle School in 2000
Enrollment: 1,027
Address: 2101 S Jackson Street
Nickname: Junior Huskies
Configuration: 6-8
Colors: Purple and gold
Newspaper: none
Annual: unnamed


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

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