Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Bagley Elementary School

  • Posted 8/14/2013
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10456

This People's History of Bagley 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 HistoryLink.org 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.

Bagley Elementary School

The area northwest of Green Lake was sparsely populated at the turn of the century. As more families settled in the area, the need for a local school became apparent. To address this need, the Seattle School District purchased a small tract of land along a dirt road known as Woodland Park Avenue (later Aurora Avenue). Nearby were the Dawson family's farmhouse and orchard. At that time, N 80th Street was just a lane leading to their barn. To the east, Licton Springs Creek flowed toward Green Lake.

The first school on this two-acre site was called Allen Annex. It began in 1905 at Woodland Park Avenue N and N 79th Street with one portable building and later expanded to three. Two teachers instructed children in grades 1-4. Allen Annex closed in March 1907 when a permanent building was opened on the same site.

The board named the new permanent building (temporarily referred to as North Green Lake School) in honor of Reverend Daniel Bagley whose "work as a pioneer aided the establishment of the Territorial University at Seattle." The board minutes note that it was "given the name of Bagley School." A pencil-written revision inserts the first name Daniel. The Daniel Bagley School opened with five teachers and 219 students in grades 1-8. It had eight classrooms on two floors.

The 1907 building resembled Latona and Hay, which were built in the same period according to district architect Stephen's "model school" plan. Two octagonal towers with windows flanked the main entry. A wide hallway separated the classrooms and the upper hall served as an assembly room. Two large basement rooms were used as playrooms, and students who lived too far away to go home for lunch ate on benches set up along the walls.

In 1917, the district purchased additional acreage to the east of the grounds, increasing the length by 600 feet. That same year Bagley's enrollment surpassed 400 students. Because of wartime limitations on materials and labor, a temporary six-room "Liberty Building" was all the district could add to the site in 1919. These inexpensive but serviceable buildings were used at five schools where the need was most urgent: Jefferson, Bryant, Robert Fulton, Maple, and Bagley.

Between 1919 and 1929, enrollment at Bagley increased from 544 to 632, with students housed in the eight-room 1907 building, the six room "Liberty Building", and several portables. As traffic on Aurora Avenue increased, a safe means for children to cross the street was needed. In 1928, a tunnel was built under Aurora Avenue at 79th Street. (The underpass is now barricaded.)

Construction of the present building began in 1929 on the east side of the property facing Stone Avenue. Completed the following year, the two-story brick structure is similar in appearance to other elementary schools built at the time except for its distinctive Art Deco cast-stone details. The new building opened with two playcourts, a library, gymnasium, and auditorium-lunchroom. In 1930, the district purchased more adjacent land, creating the largest elementary school playground in the city. The grounds shrank in 1940 when the strip of land fronting Aurora Avenue was sold, and the 1906 structure was torn down. Bagley's student population reached 730 in 1931-32, the year that kindergarten was added. In 1953-54, over 800 students attended the school, and several portables stood on the grounds.

Enrollment began to decline in the 1960s, and, by 1970, most of the portables had been removed. In the 1970s, Bagley offered a section of the district-wide Choice Not Chance Program, providing parents and children the opportunity to choose from a variety of educational emphases, such as free school, adaptability, career awareness, and traditional education.

The Gypsy Children's Program moved to Bagley from Day in fall 1975 with 34 students, one teacher, and two aides. Renamed the Gypsy Alternative School in fall 1980 and the Gypsy Alternative Program in fall 1986, it operated for grades K-8 in a small, two-room wooden portable. Gypsy children, who often felt they did not belong in a regular academic setting, benefited from this program and, as a result, were more likely to stay in school. All of the children were bilingual, speaking English and their native Romanes. Books written in that language were used to bridge the gap between the American and Gypsy cultures.

By 1987, the program was the only surviving Gypsy school in the United States. That program, too, closed in the spring of 1995 after its enrollment shrank below minimum requirements. Currently, Bagley is one of the smallest elementary schools in the district and has English-as-a-Second-Language and special education programs, including a class for children with severe behavioral disorders.

Details:

Name: Daniel Bagley School
Location: Stone Way & N 79th Street
Building: 8-room, 2-story wood
Architect: James Stephen
Site: 2.0 acres
1906: Named on March 26
1907: Building opened
1917: Site expanded
1930: Closed
1935: 1st floor room turned into Aurora Community Club meeting room
1940: Demolished and that portion of property sold
Present: Site of Chubby & Tubby Store

Name: Bagley Annex
Location: Stone Way & N 79th Street
Building: 6-room, wood "Liberty Building"
Architect: J. N. Maybury
1919: Opened
1930: Closed and demolished

Name: Daniel Bagley School
Location: 7821 Stone Avenue N
Building: 17-room, 2-story brick
Architect: Floyd A. Naramore
Site: 4.1 acres
1930: Opened

Bagley Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 200
Address: 7821 Stone Avenue N
Nickname: Bees
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Black and gold 


Sources:

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


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