Queen Anne Addendum #1 – Queen Anne High

Queen Anne High School was one of the last creations of James Stephen during his nine years as Seattle’s official school architect. Stephen was responsible for designing more than 50 Seattle school structures and many more schools throughout Washington State. One, Everett High School, was built at the same time as Queen Anne High and resembles it. (Click this and all the photographs and ephemera to make them bigger. And sometimes click them twice.)

(A version of the text that follows the “now” below first appeared in Pacific Mag – Sunday Times – for Oct. 12 1997.  You will know from your own experience that 13 years are kept within the envelope named “The Passage of Strange Time” or in the drawer marked “The Strange Passage of Time.”  It seems to me now like I was on this corner taking the “now” much much more recently than that.  But still I have lost – temporarily – the negative.  Jean’s from last week end will do better, and in color.)

In 1981, 72 years and 24,000 graduates after it opened, Queen Anne High closed. The school, however, was saved form destruction by its conversion into The Queen Anne Apartments.

Queen Anne  High

While the classical brick-and-tile pile of Queen Anne High School was being raised on the summit of Queen Anne Hill in 1908-09, the major part of Denny Hill was being lowered beneath it.  The school board’s decision to build a new high school here at the then still relatively remote intersection of Galer Street and Second Avenue N. rather than wait a few months for a school site in the Denny Regrade was controversial, although perhaps not for the 650 students and 33 teachers who entered the new school in September 1909.

Otto Luther, a 28-year-old history teacher at Broadway High School, was brought over as principal.  At the school’s dedication ceremony, Luther made the point that “the high school is the people’s college.”

And it was the proud understanding of that progressive era in local education that the teaching done at Seattle’s high schools was very good.  Luther presided here for 42 years – something that can happen when you are made the “boss” at twenty-eight.  He retired in 1951.  This was three years less than the 45-year service of the school’s physical-education instructor, Mable Furry.

The above view of Queen Anne High dates from the late teens, and the bricks and terra-cotta ornaments – including those clusters of scrolls and wreaths hanging from the cornice – are still like fresh.  In this late autumnal scene, the landscaping is barely adolescent and does not interfere with what is a good architectural record of a city landmark.

But in its yearly years – or perhaps anytime before the TV towers were erected nearby – Queen Anne High School could best be seen from the bottom of Queen Anne Hill or from the Denny Regrade.  From there, its looming classical pile made it Seattle’s acropolis.  Other photographs included here – far below – show that it can also be seen from Fremont  (upper Fremont) and, of course, Capitol Hill.

This early look south on 3rd Ave. N. to the school's front door is now interrupted by the new campus for John Hay School. (A short illustrated history of John Hay was given here recently. You can search for it.)
Queen Anne High's west facade seen from the old standpipe two blocks away.
Queen Anne High from Capitol Hill - early.
Queen Anne High acting something like the acropolis here high above work-in-progress on the Denny Regrade. The building at the center is the old Denny School (1884-1929) on the north side of Battery Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The water canons here in 1909-10 are eroding Denny Hill into ditches first for gathering to flumes on trestles and on these the moving mud was carried away to splash into the bay. The left-west wing of Denny School was cut away soon after this photograph was recorded. It was lost with the forming of a cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue, which cliff market the limit of the regrade between 1911 and 1928, when the work began again - this time with steam shovels - and the rest of the hill was humbled along with what remained of Denny School.
Even here from above Fremont Queen Anne High School is forming on the horizon. This view was taken from near N. 39th Street and Evanston Avenue. It just misses including the Fremont Bridge on the far left. The fresh and naked avenues on the north slope of Queen Anne Hill are easily identified. On the far left is the steep 4th Avenue N., which one can still ascend from Dexter to the top although signs ask you not to. (One frozen and bright winter morning I tried taking my VW Bug up it, and reached half way when the car gave up and slide back to the bottom - straight and without a bruise.) From 4th to the right (west) the avenues go, Nob Hill, 3rd, Mayfair, 2nd, Warren (now a better way to reach the top), 1st and Queen Anne Ave.

Here, below, we have lifted a profile of Queen Anne High’s long-time principal Otto Luther (Here he stands) from the popular Seattle blog name VINTAGE SEATTLE.  It describes itself as a “High-resolution blog visualizing the Emerald City’s Past.”  It is always a favorite destination and often much fun.  We might have, however, as local Troglodytes written “the Queen City’s Past” given that “Emerald City” was a replacement for “Queen City.” The green stone was thought more descriptive than royalty and it gave the modern media agents of the Central Business Association or the Chamber of Commerce or the Visitors Bureau (I no longer remember) another chance for a promotion.  That was about 35 years ago only. But then to be fair “Queen City” was first applied by a Portland-based real estate agent in Pioneer times and not following the discovery here of any royalty. Rather the bigger city Oregonians wanted to sell lots of lots in the still fledgling Seattle on the chance that the buyers might expect to find a stump here marking a kings ransom or wearing a diadem.  And they did.

You can visit Vintage Seattle with this link. http://www.vintageseattle.org. Or just Google "Vintage Seattle." This blog is popular and should pop up on top.

One thought on “Queen Anne Addendum #1 – Queen Anne High”

  1. On the view of Queen Anne taken from near N. 59th Street and Evanston, you are looking at 4th Ave North, not West. This is supported by counting down the streets as you move west towards Queen Anne Avenue. Once past there, they start counting up, and are “West”.

    A minor nit to pick, I grant you.

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