Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Webster School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10606

This People's History of Webster 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.

Webster School (Bay View)

During the early 1900s, Ballard's population grew at a rapid pace and temporary buildings were pressed into service for classroom use by Ballard School District No. 50. One of these, called Bay View, began with two portables facing what is now NW 68th Street and was later expanded to include two more portables facing NW 69th. A small building to the west of the portables served as the principal's office.|

When Ballard was annexed into the City of Seattle, the plans and contract for a permanent structure were ready. The Seattle School Board reviewed and accepted the plans and began construction. Prior to completion, the school population increased so much that more classrooms were needed. The Methodist Church directly south, across the present NW 67th Street, provided additional space.

The new building was built on the block between old Bay View and the church. Although the Ballard School Board had used the name Olympic School, the school opened as Bay View. On opening day, in January 1908, students from old Bay View and nearby Ferry Street School marched over to the new building with their books in hand.

Ferry Street School occupied two portables on the west side of Ferry Street (25th Avenue NW) between the present-day NW 67th Street and NW 70th. It was opened by Ballard School District about 1904 as an annex to Bay View. The portables are said to have been converted into private residences after it closed. Another school that closed with the opening of Webster was North Street School, which had opened about 1905 on the southwest corner of North Street (NW 64th Street) and present-day 22nd Avenue NW.

Two months after the new school opened, it was renamed after Daniel Webster, American statesman and renowned orator. It is said that the name was changed to help ease the rivalry between the former Bay View and Ferry students. When the school reopened the following fall, it was filled to the brim and one of the portables, then called the Webster School Annex, had to be used.

Webster School maintained a steady enrollment of 400-500 pupils through the 1920s. Alumni from those years recall that some immigrant children could not speak English, so fellow students helped them out. In 1930, an addition gave the building four more classrooms, a large auditorium, a gymnasium and a playcourt. The school served eight grades until 1931 when Monroe Junior High School opened. In 1957, a kindergarten room was constructed on the ground floor in space previously not used for classes. In 1968, a team-teaching station was added.

Webster closed in 1979. For a short period of time, the building was rented to a motion picture producer. Near the end of the rental period, a fire caused considerable damage to the roof and other parts of the structure. At this time, a group representing the city's Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, and Swedish communities leased the site for a museum. The Pacific Nordic Council received credit for repairs and improvements made to the damaged building. The Nordic Heritage Museum, which opened in April 1980, now attracts thousands of visitors from around the world each year. Renewal of the museum's lease is currently in question, and plans are being made for relocation.


Name: Bay View School
Location: 7th Avenue and New York (30th Avenue NW and NW 67th Street)
Building: Two portables
Site: n.a.
1903: Opened by Ballard School District
n.a.: Two portables added
1907: Annexed into Seattle School District
1908: Closed in January; most portables sold and converted into private residences
1908-09: One portable in use as Webster Annex
1911: Leased to Ballard Presbyterian Church for mission Sunday school
n.a.: Site sold

Name: Bay View School
Location: 3014 NW 67th Street
Building: 2-story, 14-room brick
Architect: Frederick Sexton
Site: 1.83 acres
1908: Opened in January; renamed Webster on March 27
1930: Addition (Floyd A. Naramore); site expanded to 2.4 acres
1979: Closed; leased to the Pacific Nordic Council

Use of Bay View (Webster) School site in 2000
Nordic Heritage Museum


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

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