In the 1890s, the Seward School neighborhood was heavily wooded. In 1903, Franklin Avenue, bordering the west edge of the site, was a bicycle path. A wagon road ran through the present school grounds and a trolley from downtown Seattle ended at Louisa Street.
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held on the University of Washington campus in 1909, with thousands of people flocking to it, caused the Eastlake neighborhood to develop. Eastlake Avenue was graded and the carlines were extended north. By 1914, more than 400 pupils attended Seward Elementary School. In 1917, the third building, made of brick, was added.
In 1932, enrollment was about 580, and Seward became a demonstration school. District teachers attended half-day sessions to observe the latest teaching methods and materials. In 1950, the schools boundaries were changed when the nearby Cascade School was destroyed in an earthquake.
In the 1960s, the construction of Interstate-5 directly east of the Seward School bisected the neighborhood and contributed to declining enrollments.
The historic buildings were renovated in 1997-1998 and reopened in September 1999. It is now (2001) a K-8 school called the Options Program at Seward (or Tops at Seward).