Seattle Now & Then: Seattle (aka Broadway) High School

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Aiming north into Capitol Hill from the north end of First Hill, an as yet anonymous photographer made a rare record of the then new Seattle High School’s south façade. (Courtesy: Ron Edge)
NOW: In the about 110 years between them, nothing, it seems, from the old survives unless it is hidden behind the new. Both views look north on Harvard Ave. from the block between Union and Pike Streets.


What, we wonder, motivated this photographer to move off the sidewalk and use these mid-block weeds in her or his composition.  Was it, perhaps, to keep the brand new stone apartment on the left in the picture? The address is 1425 Harvard and the apartment is fittingly named the Boston Block.  It opened its flats to renters in the summer of 1903.  The location was certainly convenient but the monthly fee of $37.50 was not especially cheap for even the five room flats it was renting.

However, the primary subject here is probably the “vaguely Romanesque” but also new Seattle High School on the nearby horizon.  It opened in 1902.  On the evidence of a short stack of snapshots of which this is one, the likely year for this recording is 1903 or ’04.  With the photographer’s back near Union Street, the prospect looks two blocks north to the school’s south façade on the north side of Pine Street.

That, of course, puts Pike Street at the bottom of the hill, less than a block away in the draw between First Hill – with the photographer – and Capitol Hill with the school. Soon motorcars and their servers would crowd the sides of Pike with show rooms and parts stores for Seattle’s first “auto row.” The domestic clutter here of what appear to be single family residences would for the greater part be either replaced with business blocks, converted into boarding houses or succeeded by substantial apartment houses like the one on the left.

Lincoln, Seattle’s second high school, opened in Wallingford in 1911 the year Seattle High Changed its name to Broadway and first opened night classes.  This Broadway diversity was extended with skills schools like Edison Tech and “self-help” courses during the 1930s.  In 1946 Broadway was given over entirely to adult education including classes for veterans returning from World War Two.

After pioneer architect William E. Boone’s grand stone pile was sold in 1966 to Seattle Community College, Dr. Ed Erickson, the school’s president, publically hoped that “nostalgia and emotions will not get in the way” of College plans to raze what some of the high school’s activist alums still lovingly called the Pine Street Prison.  Alums and architects on both sides were enlisted for the battle that followed to preserve or pull down Broadway Hi. Second only then to the fight to save the Pike Place Market, the Broadway effort managed to keep only the school’s auditorium.


Anything to add, Paul?

Because of the lingering ghost or ghosts in our blog machine we will keep it short Jean.  When these spirits are exorcized – or these problems answered – we can return to offering good-‘n-big additions to our features.  We love this recycling of years of features written and old photos collected and interpreted.  But for now we will wait, except we will also not wait.  That is, I’ll attach a few other photographs of the new High School, understanding that at least a few of our readers will have discovered the temporary trick for reaching the latest offerings on this blog, which is to go fir to its archive, aka its past pages.   There the ghost is temporarily restrained.

The Nelson - of Fredericks and Nelson - home behind Broadway High. Can you refine its place? It has not survived.
On the evidence of those construction sheds this is from late in the school's construction.
School is open and so is Warren Art Company across Broadway. Classes in the arts were nurtured by Seattle's then progressive public schools.
An early look east from the roof to the neighborhood and the playfield part of - then - Lincoln Park.


6 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Seattle (aka Broadway) High School”

  1. I often hear that only Broadway High’ auditorium survived, But isn’t the Broadway Performance Hall new (1970’s) construction with an exterior created from the old stones? That is to say, my understanding is that none of the walls of the current building were actually walls of the school. Perhaps this is splitting hairs.

    I wish you a fast exorcism of your blog ghosts!

  2. While only attending, what was then called, Edison Technical School, for a little over one semester in the fall and winter of 1961, it was the best experience of my high school years. The quality of teaching at Edison far surpassed, in my opinion, that of the Christian Brothers at O’Dea High School, where I had previously attended. After a three-year stint in the United States Army, I returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees in secondary education. In my teaching and administrative career, spanning a period of 35 years, I never forgot my time at, and lessons learned at, Edison; both of which, made me a better educator of young people.

  3. Hi,

    I am writing a book about a graduate of Broadway High School. Would you know of any site that might have yearbooks from around 1922 – 1926?

    Bob Wilcox in Rochester, NY

  4. Didn’t Lincoln High School open in 1907 as opposed to 1911? Also, it looks like maybe the building on the left in the anonymously taken photo of Seattle High School at the top of the page might still be standing in the “Now” version. Not sure, but maybe.

  5. Also, is it a rare occurrence that that one telephone pole is still standing in both the “Then” and “Now” pics? It might not be the exact same pole, but the placement and height seem identical.

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