Seattle's historic Coe Elementary School burns on January 21, 2001.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/23/2001
  • Essay 2954

On January 21, 2001, just after midnight, historic Franz H. Coe Elementary School on Queen Anne Hill burns to the ground. The three-story wood building dating from 1907 is being heavily remodeled when the fire breaks out. Flames are not completely extinguished for several days. The structure will be completely rebuilt and will open for classes on January 6, 2003.

Coe School was first constructed in 1907 at 2433 6th Avenue W. It was an eight-room, two-story building, which sported a style called Ionic Colonial. It was designed by James Stephen and named after Franz H. Coe, Seattle School Board member from 1901 to 1904. In 1914, eight more rooms were added on the north side to accommodate a total of 575 students.

Coe was home to grades Kindergarten (added 1931) through Eight until 1949 when the eighth graders were sent to the junior high school at Queen Anne High School. The seventh graders followed in 1956. Kindergarten was cancelled in 1959 when a school levy failed, but was restored the following year.

The old building was in the midst of a $14 million renovation and expansion to add more classrooms, a gym, and a library. The exterior design was to be retained along with the interior woodwork and main staircase. Due to construction, there were no fire alarms or fire suppression systems in operation when the fire broke out.

Damage was $15 million. The cause of the fire was never determined.

The structure was completely rebuilt. On January 6, 2003, a new Coe School reopened to students.


Linda Shaw, "One Thing's Sure: A New Coe Will Rise," The Seattle Times, January 23, 2001, p. B-1; Queen Anne: Community on the Hill ed. by Kay Frances Reinartz (Seattle: Queen Anne Historical Society, 1993), 128-129; Additional information from Eleanor Toews, Seattle Public Schools; "Final Report Lists No Official Cause Of Coe School Fire," Queen Anne/Magnolia News, August 8, 2001, p. 2; La Monica Everett-Haynes, "School Destroyed By Fire Rises On Queen Anne Again," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 7, 2003 (
Note: This essay was revised on February 13, 2001, and again on January 9, 2003.

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