Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Magnolia School

  • Posted 9/09/2013
  • Essay 10552
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This People's History of Magnolia 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 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.

Magnolia School

Magnolia Bluff Annex opened in the fall of 1911 in a single portable at 28th Avenue W and W Boston Street, on property owned by Elizabeth Simpson. It operated until June 1918 as an annex to Lawton. After two years with grades 1-2, the annex generally served grades 1-4.

In September 1921, a delegation of parents from the Magnolia Bluff and Carleton Park areas met with the Seattle School Board to point out the hazards of bus transportation to Interbay School, which their children were forced to attend. They stated that some parents were keeping their children home because of the dangers. One week later the board passed a resolution establishing a portable school, which Magnolia children in grades 1-3 were to attend.

Magnolia School opened in a portable at 28th W and W McGraw in September 1922, with 26 children in grades 1-3 from Interbay School. In 1926, a second portable was added to help house four classes of grades 1-6.

The permanent Magnolia School opened in fall 1927 with grades 1-6. It increased to grades 1-7 the next year and grades 1-8 the next. In 1931, eight classrooms, an auditorium-lunchroom, and two playcourts were added. Kindergarten classes began at Magnolia in 1934. By 1940, an overflow of more than 100 students was sent to Lawton School before a new wing, with four new classrooms, was added at Magnolia in 1941. In fall 1943, with the influx of military families during the war, 8th graders were sent to Queen Anne Junior High, which was at Queen Anne High School.

"They are thinking of establishing a crow curriculum at Magnolia school to accommodate three of the black birds which, like Mary's famous lamb, insist on following children to classes." So began a newspaper article in September 1942 after students made pets of crows over the summer. One bird, Oscar, had the habit of beating his wings against a 7th grade window. The other two, Jim and Jake, were also daily visitors, arriving in the morning for the flag-raising ceremony. Zella Allen, the principal, feared it would become a fad among her pupils.

Louie the Rat was the "prominent character" of the advanced kindergarten class in 1946-47. That year Louie's classroom entered the Machine Age. A program sponsored by the Education Research Committee of the Office Equipment Manufacturing Institute had kindergartners learning how to type. The project involved an instructor who traveled throughout the country with 30 portable typewriters.

In 1947, 950 students filled a building designed to accommodate 800. This overcrowding led to the establishment of Briarcliff School in early 1949. Seventh graders remained at Magnolia until September 1952, when they were transferred to the new Catherine Blaine Junior High, along with principal Claude Turner.

In 1969, Magnolia received the first elementary Learning Resources Center in the Seattle School District. It was established in a rectangular, one-story addition located to the south of the auditorium. Magnolia became a K-3 school in 1978 when it was paired with Dearborn Park to help achieve racial balance. When Magnolia closed in spiring 1984, enrollment was down to 320. Students were sent to Blaine or Lawton.

During 1987-89, Magnolia was the temporary home to Adams students and staff while that school was being rebuilt. In 1989-90, Muir needed an interim site during renovation, so Muir students were transported to Magnolia.

From 1993 to spring 2000, Magnolia was home of the African American Academy. Magnolia will be the interim site for Coe beginning in September 2000 while that facility is being renovated.


Name: Magnolia School
Location: 2418 28th Avenue W
Building: 9-room brick
Architect: Floyd A. Naramore
Site: 2.45 acres
1927: New building opened on September 5
1931: Addition (Naramore)
1941: Addition (Naramore & Brady)
1969: Addition (Seattle School District)
1984: Closed
1987-: Temporary site

Use of Magnolia School site in 2000
Interim use


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

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