St. Nicholas School moves to a distinguished new building on Seattle's Capitol Hill on March 15, 1926.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 1/28/2014
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10714

On March 15, 1926, the private all-girl nonsectarian St. Nicholas School moves into a newly built facility at 1501 10th Avenue E in Seattle's North Capitol Hill neighborhood. The building is designed by the Seattle firm of Bebb & Gould, and greatly increases the number of students the school can accommodate. St. Nicholas will eventually merge with the Lakeside School. The building will be purchased by Cornish College, and ultimately sold to the adjacent St. Mark's Cathedral. On July 15, 1981, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will award it landmark status.

First Location

When St. Nicholas School opened in 1910, the school facility was a two-story building at 712 Broadway N (now E) between E Roy and E Aloha streets in Seattle's North Capitol Hill neighborhood. The building was later topped by a third floor gymnasium. The school building was designed by Seattle architect Charles Bebb (1856-1942), who had recently designed several of the gracious homes nearby, including a mansion for St. Nicholas School's patrons Richard Dwight Merrill (1869-1964) and Eula Lee Merrill (ca. 1872-1938) at 919 Harvard Avenue N (now E).

By the mid-1920s, the building was at capacity and the St. Nicholas board of directors made plans to commission a larger facility. Charles Bebb was again tapped for the job, along with his architectural partner, Carl Gould (1873-1939). The site was purchased from Seattle Judge Cornelius H. Hanford (ca. 1850-1926), who lived several blocks away at 1132 10th Avenue N (now E). The Pierre P. Ferry mansion and the Eliza Ferry Leary mansion, both built in 1905, were located immediately north of the school site.  

Groundbreaking

Trustees, faculty members, and students gathered at the site for groundbreaking ceremonies on July 24, 1925. Trustee John W. Eddy (1872-1955) turned the first spade of earth.  

On October 16, 1925, the group reassembled to lay the corner stone. Congregational Church minister Reverend Edward Lincoln Smith (1865-1940) delivered an invocation.  Board members Frederick M. Padelford (1875-1942) and Reverend Herbert H. Gowen (1864-1960) and school physician E. Weldon Young (1868-1940) made remarks. Students sang the St. Nicholas school song. All attending sang "America" and the hymn "Ancient of Days." 

Bebb & Gould's building is designed in the Jacobean style of English architecture, and is three stories tall. Throughout St. Nicholas's tenure in the building, the third story was left unfinished. In 1955, the architectural firm John Graham & Company created a two-story south wing addition.

Within a few years after St. Nicholas students moved into their new building, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral (completed 1930) was erected to the school's immediate southwest. St. Nicholas School occasionally utilized the cathedral for ceremonial occasions, but the school remained nonsectarian and was never affiliated with St. Mark's. 

Lakeside School and Beyond

In 1971, St. Nicholas School merged with the formerly all-male Lakeside School. As part of the merger, Lakeside added grades 5 and 6 to their existing grades 7-12 program. Grades 5-8 of the merged school were designated Middle School and housed in the former St. Nicholas building.  

In 1981, Lakeside moved the Middle School to the former Haller Lake Elementary School building near their north Seattle Upper School campus, selling the former St. Nicholas building to Cornish College. Cornish submitted the building for landmark consideration, and July 15, 1981, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board gave the building landmark status. In 2003, Cornish sold the building to St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. As of 2014, St. Mark's leases the building to Bright Water Waldorf School and Gage Academy of Art.


Sources: "St. Nicholas/Lakeside School, Report on Designation," Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website accessed January 12, 2014 (http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/preservation/documents/DesRptStNicholas LakesideSchool_000.pdf);  "St. Nicholas/Lakeside School Landmark Nomination," Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website accessed January 12, 2014 (http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/preservation/documents/ NomStNicholasSchool_000.pdf); "Ground Broken For New St. Nicholas School," The Seattle Times, July 24, 1925, p. 12; "Work Started on St. Nicholas School," Ibid., July 25, 1925, p. 9; "St. Nicholas School To Lay Corner Stone," Ibid., October 10, 1925, p. 18;  T. William Booth and William H. Wilson, Carl F. Gould: A Life In Architecture and the Arts (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995).

Related Topics:   Buildings | Education

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You