Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Loyal Heights School

  • Posted 9/09/2013
  • Essay 10548
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This People's History of Loyal Heights 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.

Loyal Heights School

Local Ballard legend holds that Harry Whitney Treat, a prominent landowner, donated five acres to the district "with the condition that a school be built and named after his daughter Loyal." District records from the 1930s, however, indicate that the land was, in fact, purchased.

The original Loyal Heights School consisted of portables and functioned as an annex to Webster School, serving grades 1-3 from 1919-1928. Initially, there were two portables, one a classroom and the other a "Play Portable." The portables featured "box furniture," benches made from rough planks supported on apple boxes. Orange crates were used for bookshelves. Coat hooks ran down one wall and across the back of the room. Hooks near the coal-burning stove were used to dry wet clothing. The lavatories were outside. The school nurse, Rene Myhre, is said to have been the first nurse in the district.

No roads served the school, so children walked on trails through the dense woods. Hills and deep ravines crossed the school property. In the early days, boys had to clear away brush and level off an area for a ballfield. A report issued for 1924-27 calls Loyal Heights "an example of the new type of temporary building developed by the building committee" and describes it as having three classrooms. In 1931-32, the school had eight rooms for grades 1-6.

Once roads were built, the property was leveled in preparation for a new building. The permanent Loyal Heights School was designed in 20th Century Georgian style and comprised 10 classrooms. Following the opening of the new building, much effort was put into the beautification of the grounds. Cherry trees were donated by Loyal Treat Nichols for its first Arbor Day. She also donated two tapestries, depicting Romulus and Remus, to be hung in the auditorium.

It wasn't long before the student body outgrew the school, and portables came into use. In 1946, a six-room wing was added, including a gymnasium, art room, and library. Enrollment exceeded 450, with over 100 pupils in kindergarten. The two new kindergarten rooms were housed in a separate unit, with their own lavatories, cloak rooms, private entrance, and a fenced off blacktop play yard. Ronald Pickett, who taught physical education, became the school's first male instructor.

In 1956, the Seattle Times called the Loyal Heights playground a "portable maze" and published a photo showing the seven temporary structures needed to house the overflow of students. To alleviate crowding there and at Crown Hill, North Beach School was opened in September 1958. However, Loyal Heights remained overcrowded as older students were added to the student body because of over-enrollment at Monroe Junior High.

In 1959, the older students left to attend the new Whitman Junior High, and enrollment dropped from 733 to 431. Soon afterward, 80 African-American students were bused in from the Central Area. By late 1973, enrollment was down to 250, and the community became concerned that the school might close. Their fears were realized in spring 1976 when the board announced that Loyal Heights and four other schools would close. A resulting lawsuit led to the reopening of all five schools in September 1976.

Currently, Loyal Heights students enjoy a new playground and upgraded computer equipment. Pupils in grades 1-4 can choose classes that include a mix of grade levels, offering flexible grouping and encouraging cooperative learning. New programs include music and integrated arts.


Name: Loyal Heights School
Location: (N)W 77th Street & 26th Avenue NW
Building: Portables
Site: 2.71 acres
1919: Opened in September as annex to Webster
1928: Became independent school
1931: Closed in December

Name: Loyal Heights School
Location: 2511 NW 80th Street
Building: 10-room brick
Architect: Floyd A. Naramore
Site: 2.71 acres
1932: Opened in January
1946: Addition (Naramore) opened in April
1976: Closed in June; reopened in September

Loyal Heights Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 313
Address: 2511 NW 80th Street
Nickname: Beavers
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Blue and gold


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

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