AKA: Seattle Public Schools, Washington High School, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA; Seattle Public Schools, Broadway High School, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - high schools; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Boone and Corner, Architects (firm); Seattle Public Schools, District Architect, Blair, Edgar (firm); Edgar Blair (architect); William Ely Boone (architect); James Milbourne Corner (architect)

Dates: constructed 1901-1902, demolished 1974

3 stories

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1625 Broadway
Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA 98122

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The Seattle High School occupied the northwest corner of Broadway and East Pine Street.


Seattle High School--later renamed Washington High School in 1906 and Broadway High School in 1908--was the first facility built as a school for grades 9-12 in the City of Seattle, WA. Prior to this time, high school classes were held at the Territorial University of Washington or at rented and retrofitted facilities around town. Opened in the fall of 1902, this 70-room building covered a 2.12-acre site at 1625 Broadway Avenue. When it opened, the Seattle Public Schools had 13,000 students in all of its facilities, including 1,000 at the Seattle High School.

Building History

Construction began on this large, public high school on Broadway in Seattle in late 1899-early 1900. An article in the Seattle Daily Times of 03/31/1900 stated of the progress: "The work on the new High School building on Broadway is going ahead very rapidly. The whole foundation is laid, and a large work force is at work on the basement story, which will not be finished for ninety days yet. Chuckanut stone is being used throughout for the basement story." (See "Real Estate News," Seattle Daily Times, 03/31/1900, p. 13.)

This first dedicated high school building in the Seattle Public Schools system opened between 09-11/1902. The Seattle Times reported on progress at the new school building on 10/06/1902: "The enrollment in the Seattle High School this morning showed more than 1,000 names. This is nearly 30 per cent increase over the attendance last year, which barely exceeded 700. The growth is unprecedented. The teachers and pupils are getting down to hard work in the new high school building. While the building will not be thoroughly completed for several weeks yet, everything has been made quite comfortable and the school work is proceeding with good regularity. The chemical, physical and biological laboratories are not yet fitted up and probably will not be for six weeks. The manual training department is in first-class shape. Four rooms are used in this branch of work, which is being taken by more than 125 boys. There is a mechanical drawing room, the wood-work room, the wood-turning room and the forge room. The lunch room in the new high school building is becoming very popular and is being liberally patronized by the scholars." (See "Increase at High School," Seattle Times, 10/06/1902, p. 16.) The addition of manual training and athletics programs to public school curricula were relatively in 1902. "Home economics" classes for girls would be supplemented in the coming years.

The newspaper's discussion for the need of athletics training underscored several widely held beliefs at the time: "Instructions in athletics have already begun. Supt. Cooper says that interest in athletics is on the increase. Prof. Cooper is a great believer in athletics in schools. He says the rough element in play is absolutely necessary to the proper development of character. The sturdiness of the English people grows largely from the manly sports that they so freely indulge in. Without athletic training in the schools Prof. Cooper says the American race would have a tendency to become weak and effeminate. Prof. Cooper says athletics in schools can be overdone to the detriment of the pupil in other school work, but a reasonable amount of it cannot but prove a great benefit." (See "Increase at High School," Seattle Times, 10/06/1902, p. 16.) The article underscored how many believed that the US continued great athletic traditions begun in England. The Anglo-Saxon race was seen as virile and aggressive in a positive Darwinian way, possessing a manly vigor (extolled by Teddy Roosevelt and others) that would naturally fuel the nation's unrivaled inventiveness and dominating economic power.

The Seattle school board name was changed from "Seattle High School" to "Washington High School" 03/12/1906, as George Washington, the nation's first president, was seen as an inspiring and appropriate role model for students at the city's first high school. This name officially stuck until 10/07/1908, when the school board officially altered it to "Broadway High School." The Seattle Times wrote in its issue of 10/08/1908: "Washington High School will hereafter be known as Broadway High School. The board of control of the student body of the University of Washington sent a committee to place the matter before the board at its meeting last evening. The young men explained that the similarity of names created confusion, especially in athletic events." (See "Compares Expenses of City Schools," Seattle Times, 10/08/1908, p. 14.) Although known officially as "Washington High School" many people had referred to it as the Broadway High School colloquially beginning c. 1905. References to the "Broadway High School" can be found in real estate ads and apartment vacancy notices by that time.

From the start, the Washington High School was crowded, accommodating 1,700 by 1904. Additional facilities were set up on school grounds and across the street in 1911 and 1913, respectively. Seattle Public Schools historians Nile Thompson and Caroline Marr related: "In 1911, an addition housing shops, auditorium, and gymnasiums was made to the Broadway structure on Harvard Avenue. Portables were set up to the east in Lincoln Playfield (the present Broadway Playfield) in 1913." (See Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 [Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002], republished as "Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Broadway High School" by HistoryLink.org, HistoryLink.org Essay 10475 09/04/2013, accessed 01/23/2017.) Architect Edgar Blair (1871-1924) designed the 1911 additions that included the auditorium. After 1974, the auditorium remained as the only extant portion of the early campus.

According to Seattle historian Paul Dorpat, "In 1946 Broadway was given over entirely to adult education including classes for veterans returning from World War Two." (See Dorpat Sherrard Lomont, "Seattle Now & Then: Seattle (AKA Broadway) High School," accessed 01/23/2017.) The last classes held in the Broadway High School occurred on 06/14/1946. Thereafter, the facility became part of th Broadway-Edison Technical School. (The Boone and Corner building became known as the "South Building" of the technical school in 1948.)

The school functioned in this mode for another twenty years when it was sold to Seattle Community College, which sought to demolish it and build a new facility. The State of Washington assumed ownership of the property in 08/23/1967. A preservation battle developed over saving the historic school, but, in the end, other city preservation battles (primarily larger concerns with Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market) took center stage, and only Blair's 1911 auditorium portion of the building was spared.

Building Notes

At its opening, the Seattle High School also had a separate eighth-grade facility on its grounds, the Union Grammar School. This eighth grade appendage operated for only a few years before students were directed elsewhere.

Seattle High School first started offering night school classes in 1907; these offerings were important for recent immigrants who had to work during the day, but wished to gain new skills useful to their new lives in America. These classes played their part in the process of "Americanization" of various ethnicities new to the country.

The building had the heavy, rusticated stone exterior and round-arched windows typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque Style, but was not a particularly good example of it. Most windows were trabeated, probably for cost reasons, and it lacked other significant Richardsonian features, most notably a grand campanile.


Additions to the school were made in 1911 by the Seattle Public School District's Architect, Edgar Blair, including an auditorium that still stands. Portable buildings were added to the campus across the street in 1913.

Significant portions of the Seattle High School were razed in 1974 to make way for Seattle Community College's new campus.

PCAD id: 15579