3 Heritage Schools: Final votes ahead for Tacoma landmark nominations

Three local public school buildings could become local landmarks by the end of this month.

McKinley Hill Elementary School, located at 3720 McKinley Ave., was built in 1908 and designed by architect Frederick Heath, who also designed the Pythian TempleStadium High School, and the Ansonia Building. Last year, Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that advocates for the protection and preservation of the city’s historic buildings and architectural heritage, placed the McKinley Hill Elementary School building on its Watch List of endangered propertiesOakland Elementary School, located at 3319 S. Adams St., was built in 1912 and designed by Heath and his business partner George Gove. Finally, Hoyt Elementary School, located at 2708 N. Union Ave., was built in 1957 and designed by Tacoma architect Robert Billsbrough Price, who also designed Tacoma Fire Station No. 17, the Tacoma Bicentennial Pavilion, and Sky Terrace Apartments.

The joint nomination for the three school buildings were prepared by preservation advocate Marshall McClintock on behalf of Historic Tacoma.

The City of Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Office has received letters of support from Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement, Western Washington, or “Docomomo WEWA,” a Seattle-based non-profit organization focusing on the preservation of mid-century modern architecture in the Pacific Northwest; Tacoma architect and former City of Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Jeffrey J. Ryan; North Slope Historic District Co-Chair and former City of Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission member Kathryn Longwell; and Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello. Similarly, many people spoke in support of the nomination during a public hearing in August.

Six years ago, Historic Tacoma partnered with Tacoma Public Schools on a project to identify and document the many historic schools built between 1908 and 1958. Four years ago, six public school buildings in Tacoma were added to the city’s historic register: Fern Hill Elementary School (8442 S. Park Ave.), built in 1911; Central Elementary Administration Building (601 S. 8th St.), built in 1912; Jason Lee Middle School (602 N. Sprague Ave.), built in 1924; Stewart Middle School (5010 Pacific Ave.), built in 1925; McCarver Elementary School (2111 S. J St.), built in 1925; and Whitman Elementary School (1120 S. 39th St.), built in 1952.

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission conducted a preliminary review of the most recent nomination for the three school buildings during a public meeting in July. In August, the commission approved the nomination to add McKinley Hill Elementary School, Oakland Elementary School, and Hoyt Elementary School to the City of Tacoma’s Register of Historic Places.

According to City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight, Tacoma City Council’s Neighborhoods and Housing Committee is scheduled to review the nomination during a public meeting on Mon., Oct. 20, at 4:30 p.m., at Tacoma City Hall. Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution to officially designate the buildings historic landmarks during a public meeting on Tues., Oct. 28, at 5 p.m., at Tacoma City Hall.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index’s complete and comprehensive coverage of Tacoma’s historic schools, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index, an award-winning journalist, and author of A Reporter At Large: A decade of Tacoma interviews, feature articles, and photographs. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.