AKA: Franklin High School #2, Mount Baker, Seatte, WA

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

Designers: Bassetti / Norton / Metler / Rekevics, Architects (firm); Maloney, John W., Architect (firm); Seattle Public Schools, District Architect, Blair, Edgar (firm); Seattle Public Schools, Office of the Supervising Architect, Naramore, Floyd A. (firm); Frederick Forde Bassetti (architect); Edgar Blair (architect); John W. Maloney (architect); Richard B. Metler (architect); Floyd Archibald Naramore (architect); Philip Charles Norton (architect); Karlis Rekevics (architect)

Dates: constructed 1911-1912

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3013 South Mount Baker Boulevard
Mount Baker, Seattle , WA 98144-6139

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Building History

Built of sturdy reinforced concrete, Franklin High School opened in 09/1912 on 2.2 acres of land. Occupying a majestic, hilltop location, Franklin High had a total of 42 rooms as designed by the Seattle Public Schools' architect, Edgar Blair (1871-1924).

Building Notes

The school, standing four stories tall, had the look of contemporary collegiate Beaux-Arts Classical buildings, such as those on Columbia University's campus (constructed after an 1894 master plan by New York architects McKim Mead and White.) For comparison, Columbia's Journalism Building (built 1913) by McKim, Mead and White, had many similar features as Franklin High, including a rusticated first floor on which upper floors clad in brick stood, Georgian Revival details, ornamented parapets, and porticos that did not project. (In Frankllin's case, the portico did not project much at all, probably for cost reasons. Its colonnade had engaged columns positioned in antis.) Not surprisingly, Franklin's architect Blair had attended Columbia and worked for McKim, Mead and White.

Seattle implemented a busing plan citywide to desegregate the school system. Franklin High School was involved in this comprehensive plan enforced between 1977 and 1999. (See Neal Morton, "'The Seattle Plan,'" Seattle Times, 07/28/2019, pp. B1 and B2.)

In 2006-2007, Franklin High School's school enrollment was 9.2% white, 6.9% Hispanic, 48.2% Asian and 34.9% African-American, .8% Native American; in 2001-2002, the figures were 21% white, 5.5% Hispanic, 40.2% Asian and 32.6% African-American, .5% Native American. The total enrollment in 2006-2007 was 1,438; in 2001-2002, 1,615. Tel: (206) 252-6150 (2007).


A 4.13-acre play field was attached to the original property in 1916.

Floyd Naramore designed an addition for Franklin High School in 1925; in that year, 10.6 acres were added to the grounds and 12.7 acres in 1942.

John W. Maloney designed an addition in 1958.

Between 1988-1990, architects Bassetti Norton Metler Rekevics, participated in the demolition of the 1958 addition and renovated the rest of the school. An article in the Seattle Times in 1989, described the process of refurbishing terra cotta components of Franklin High School: "Such worries are an everyday part of life for architects now restoring landmark Franklin High School, built in 1912. Franklin's brick masonry exterior is elegantly detailed with terra cotta on its base, honeysuckle-patterned cornice, balconies, moldings and west entrance. In many places, the original terra cotta has been damaged beyond repair or is missing entirely. With a few exceptions, it's been too costly to restore with real terra cotta.Instead, a cement-based product glazed to look like the real thing will be substituted. Two terra cotta balconies, originally on the west facade and destroyed in an earlier construction project, will not be replaced because the cost - even for the reproduction product - is too great. `It kind of broke my heart,' says architect John Jeffcott, describing his disappointment when it became obvious real terra cotta could not be used. Jeffcott is directing the restoration work on Franklin and works for Bassetti Norton Metler Rekevics Architects, the firm responsible for the school's rebuilding. `Believe me, we've gone 'round and 'round. We'd all like to be purists. But compromises are the reality of 20th-century life.' On the other hand, the building's red terra cotta tile roof is being restored with authentic terra cotta made to match both in color and in style by the original manufacturer, Ludowici Celadon in Ohio. Restoring terra cotta is a delicate undertaking. When cleaning it, clear water is tried first, then soap and water and, as a last resort, a chemical restoration cleaner. The restoration contractor must test the building for unsecured blocks by tapping on tiles and cornice pieces with a rubber mallet. 'If it rings hollow, then structurally it isn't right,' Jeffcott says. The steel rod and angles that support the cornices and overhanging terra cotta must be inspected for rust and metal loss so the terra cotta doesn't fall off `when the next bus rumbles through,' Jeffcott says. And as the new-reproduction terra cotta is put in place, it must be interspersed with the old so the overall look of the original, with its slightly irregular shapes and colors, is preserved. It's obvious that working with terra cotta is not the same as working in metal or stone. The material's idiosyncrasies often challenge those accustomed to fast-paced, cookie-cutter construction." (See Marsha King, "Feats of Clay--Architects Turn Back to Terra Cotta to Bring Vivid Colors to Buildings," Seattle Times, 03/12/1989, p. L1.)

PCAD id: 7118