Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - elementary schools

Designers: Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); John Graham Sr. (architect/engineer); John Graham Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1950

1 story

view all images ( of 3 shown)

2645 California Avenue SW
West Seattle, Seattle, WA 98116

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map


After World War II, many schools were replaced or enlarged in the Seattle Public system, the Lafayette Elementary School being one of them. The Baby Boom was creating a serious need for elementary schools, and the Seattle firm of John Graham and Company provided this Modern design, highlighted by the striking monitor lighting illuminating six classrooms added in 1953. Beginning in the late 1930s, the sawtooth profile of monitor lighting became adapted from factory to secondary school usage.

Building History

Seattle architecture firm John Graham and Company designed a 20-room replacement for the previous Lafayette Elementary School, damaged in the Seattle Earthquake of 04/13/1949, and demolished in 08/1949. (The new building, which opened in 09/1950, was erected on the site of the old Lafayette school.) Six portable classrooms were also appended to the school before 1953 to add space. These were removed when the new six-classroom wing was built in 1953.

An elementary school had stood on this site since at least 1908. In that year, the West Seattle School stood on the northwest corner of California Avenue and Lander Street.

Building Notes

The original site was 2.3 acres, and was doubled in size by acquiring adjacent land in 1946. At least two houses as well as the previous school occupied the site in early 1949. The Graham addition was very modern; it had ribbon windows and monitor lighting (like a factory) each classroom. Walls were sheathed in long, thin, Roman brick, a choice very popular in Seattle, WA, c. 1950.

Tel: 206.252.9500 (2010).


John Graham and Company designed a addition to the school (six classrooms) in 1953.

PCAD id: 15620