This People's History of Coe 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.
Frantz H. Coe School
In 1902, the Seattle School Board purchased a site at Seventh Avenue W and W McGraw Street on Queen Anne Hill. At the time, there were no roads from downtown Seattle to this remote area. The mail was delivered by horse and two-wheel cart along what became 6th Avenue W to a focal point at 8th Avenue W and W McGraw Street where residents collected it by walking over trails. In 1905, a narrow gauge railway and cable car carried passengers and goods up Queen Anne Hill to a turnstile located near the school district's property.
Although relatively few people lived on Queen Anne Hill in the early 1900s, the two local schools, Queen Anne (later West Queen Anne) and Mercer, had reached their capacity. The board opened East Queen Anne Annex on Fourth Avenue N in 1904 (see Hay). Two years later the Queen Anne Annex, consisting of two portables, was opened on the Seventh and McGraw property, with 66 pupils in grades 1-3. Work began that same year on a permanent school at the site. The new building was designed in the Colonial Revival style and very much resembled Stevens School. It was named for Dr. Franz H. Coe, a prominent and respected physician who served on the Seattle School Board for three years beginning in 1901.
The school grounds and building grew with the neighborhood. In 1914, a north wing opened with eight rooms, an auditorium, and a gym. A portable was added in 1920 for Manual Training. Kindergarten was added in 1931-32. The 8th grade classes moved to Queen Anne Junior-Senior High School in September 1949, and the 7th grade classes followed in September 1955. Enrollment peaked at Coe in 1953-54, with 690 students.
In fall 1959, Seattle kindergartens were eliminated due to the failure of a levy. Queen Anne parents recruited Inga Ewbank, then in her late 40s, to organize and teach a private kindergarten. The following year she began teaching kindergarten at Coe and remained there until she retired in 1973.
The district purchased about a half-acre of adjacent property in 1967, allowing for further expansion. In 1972, two additional buildings were constructed. A gymnasium was built to the west of the 1907 structure. The other building, positioned at the northwest corner of the site, had an open-space learning resource center, which included open teaching areas for kindergarten and first grade.
At the end of the 1986-87 school year, librarian Frances Ross retired after being at the school for 12 years. She is said to have known "the names of all of Coe's 400-plus students, and something about them." A special program merging art into the curriculum began in the early 1990s. Student artwork has been displayed in local Queen Anne businesses as part of a neighborhood gallery walk.
In recent years, several options for Coe were considered under the district's capital improvement plan, ranging from renovation of the old buildings to demolition and replacement with an entirely new structure. The community favored preserving and expanding the 1907 building and its 1914 addition while demolishing the 1972 structures. This plan was adopted and construction began in the summer of 2000. During 2000-01 school year, students will be housed at Magnolia.
Addendum: During the construction that began in June 2000, the two 1972 buildings were demolished. On January 21, 2001, the 1907 and 1914 structures were destroyed by fire.
Name: Franz H. Coe School
Location: 2433 6th Avenue W
Building: 8-room wood
Architect: James Stephen
Site: 1.1 acres
1907: Named on July 20; opened in September
1912-13: Site expanded to 1.87 acres
1914: Addition (Edgar Blair)
1920: Site expanded to 2.2 acres
1967: Site expanded to 2.8 acres
1972: Addition of two buildings (Cuykendall and Iles)
2000: Closed in June for construction
Coe School in 2000
Address: 2433 6th Avenue W
Colors: Black and white