Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Wedgwood Elementary School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10607

This People's History of Wedgwood 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.

Wedgwood Elementary School

The neighborhood now called Wedgwood was first settled around 1900 by Charles Thorpe, who raised ginseng there after learning of its medicinal properties while in China. In the 1920s, Seattle University purchased the area, which it was considering as a campus location. The university sold the land in the 1940s to developer Albert Balch who built a number of homes in the area. Because his wife was dissatisfied with his earlier naming of View Ridge, he suggested that she pick a name for the new development. She chose the name because of her fondness for Wedgwood china.

The post-World War II movement to the suburbs, spurred by economic prosperity and population growth, meant that neighborhoods like Wedgwood were increasingly popular. The new houses boasted wide lots and all the modern conveniences. Large trees and lack of city noise and traffic gave the area a country atmosphere.

In 1952, Wedgwood clearly needed a school, considering the overcrowded conditions at Ravenna, View Ridge, and Bryant. The school district selected a former cherry and apple orchard as the site for the school. As a short-term solution to the crowded conditions at nearby schools, a 16-portable school was opened there in 1953 (now NE 85th and 27th Avenue NE). Twelve classrooms housing 400 children grades K-5 opened three weeks into the fall semester. The 6th grade was added the following year. In 1954-55, 14 classes were housed in 12 portables by double-shifting four classes.

Because of construction delays, the new building was not ready in April 1955 as expected. It opened dramatically in early June with only a half month remaining in the school year. Many of the pupils brought wagons from home to transport their possessions and books as they moved from the portables to the permanent building. The students especially appreciated the auditorium-lunchroom and gymnasium.

The next fall about 140 pupils were added from Maple Leaf and a few from Ravenna. Enrollment peaked in 1957-58 with 897 students. After graduation, students went to Eckstein or Addams for junior high. (Addams closed in 1984.)

As part of the district's desegregation program, Wedgwood formed a triad with Leschi and Decatur. Wedgwood and Decatur became K-3, and Leschi housed K, 4-5 from 1978 to 1988.

For many years, the Wedgwood Community Club has sponsored a Halloween painting contest for children in the neighborhood, most of them students at Wedgwood. The youngsters paint the windows of businesses for which the community club awards prizes.

Wedgwood houses special education programs for preschool through grade 5 and a Spectrum program for highly capable students. It has been recognized for high academic achievement and its active parent program. The Student Council works closely with staff to implement "School Spirit Days," an art show and other activities.


Name: Wedgwood Elementary School
Location: 2720 NE 85th Street
Building: 22-room reinforced concrete
Architect: John Graham & Co.
Site: 4.48 acres
1954: Named on April 16
1955: Opened on June 1

Wedgwood Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 371
Address: 2720 NE 85th Street
Nickname: Dolphins
Configuration: K-5
Color: Wedgwood blue


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

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You