Longfellow School — endangered building

HISTORY

Longfellow School, 3715 Oakes Ave, built in 1911.The new school, designed by Wesley R. Hastings and built by R.B. McAdam, was erected for about $38,000.  Its design reflected a subdued vernacular version of the popular Beaux Arts Classic style with symmetrically placed windows and a decorative cornice as part of a pronounced entablature.  The 12-room concrete structure was faced with a stucco finish.  The district broke tradition by naming the school for a literary figure instead of for a U.S. president.  Later other city schools were named for poets.

An auditorium/gymnasium/kitchen building were built immediately to the north of the building in 1957. It wasn’t the first school building on that part of the block.  Earlier, the 37th Street School, a two-room wooden building, stood on the southeast corner of 37th Street and Oakes Avenue facing 37th.  The two buildings shared the block for a time, but eventually the 37th Street  building was moved about four blocks north to 3409 Rockefeller where it serves today as a four-unit apartment.  It now faces south, but still resembles an old school.

No doubt the most famous alumni of the school was Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, who became county prosecuting attorney, U.S. Representative, and one of the most powerful members in the U.S Senate in his three decades there.  He even mad two bids for the Democratic nominee for President.  Another well-known attendee of Longfellow is Northwest entertainment legend Stan Boreson, who had a children’s program on Seattle’s KING-TV.  Anyone growing up in the Puget Sound area during the 1950s could probably finish the lines of his song, “Zero-dock…..”

Longfellow School closed in 1971 due to declining enrollment.  It was then enlisted to serve the school district with administration offices until the Everett School District built a new $17.5 million administration building nearby. The District currently uses the building for storage. The District determined the building should be surplussed and placed the historic school on the market for sale.

SCHOOLS PREVIOUSLY SAVED

Two schools in the Everett School District that also closed in 1970s, Washington and Roosevelt, live on as a retirement home and church respectively. In addition the Everett School District itself has restored schools on the Everett and Sequoia high school campuses. It shows how previous school district administrators and board members have successfully worked to older schools. The current administration should be encouraged by staff, students, and taxpayers to work exhaustively to maintain and revitalize our schools.

PRESERVATION

The building is listed on the Everett Historic Resource Survey, but that doesn’t give it any protection. Unfortunately, it is not listed on any historical register, even though its surely qualified. The District has an opportunity to attain that status.  Members of the historical community at the state and local level have appealed to developers and introduced them to the possibilities of preserving this valuable piece of Everett’s history. The public can encourage the school district to enter into a contract with an organization to save this vital link to the city’s educational past.

Renovation and restoration of historic buildings like the Longfellow School bring quality jobs into the community. Preserving the building will add to Everett’s economic vitality, keeping dollars right here in our city.

ADVOCACY

Historic Everett has been working with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to direct attention to the Longfellow School building by officially placing it on Washington’s Most Endangered Places list in 2015. The Trust has been encouraging the Everett School District to renovate the school, stressing the importance of historic preservation and saving this special slice of Everett’s past.

In a recent survey by the Everett School District, the public responded in favor of reusing the Longfellow School, not tearing it down. It appears the District ignored public interest, proceeding to find alternative uses including demolition and replacement with 33 parking spaces.

It is not too late to let your feelings be known. You can tell the District to bring a vote forward to dismiss any demolition in favor of finding an alternative use of this historic resource. You can contact the Everett School Board and Superintendent Dr. Gary Cohn at 3900 Broadway, Everett, WA 98201, 425-385-4000. Call, mail, or email the District to express your interest to save Longfellow School instead of costing taxpayers nearly $1 million to destroy.

Historic Everett is aghast that this magnificent school building could be replaced by asphalt and painted stripes! A survey of the area shows little use for the hundreds of parking stalls already in the vicinity for a majority of the year. Supporters of Historic Everett have been making appeals in person for several years at District meetings. And by penning letters to the District to find new owners, always fighting against losing the legacy of 25,000 students and staff that passed through the school’s doors for 60 years. Historic Everett continues to advocate for the preservation of Longfellow School and other historically significant places in our city. Places which give our community a real sense of pride.

While two initial offers to purchase the school were submitted, the District deemed them “not viable”. When news got out the District was proposing demolition, the Everett Museum of History quickly partnered with a local donor to buy the building for $2 million, even allowing an additional $1 million for renovation. The deal was heralded in the media and heritage groups as the perfect use for the historic Longfellow, as it would again serve as an education facility, to both our youth and adults. Then the school district seemed to change the conditions for the sale and ultimately did not accept the Museum’s offer. It would have been a win for both sides if the District had followed through with the agreement.

The Everett Historical Commission under the Mayor of Everett’s office, advised the Everett School District to use its resources to find an alternative to demolition.

WRITE A LETTER


Sample Letter to send to Everett School Board and to the Superintendent of Everett Schools – Gary Cohn


Everett Public School District – Board of Directors
3900 Broadway
Everett, WA 98201
425-385-4000
schoolboard@everettsd.org

 

[Date]

Dear Everett School District Board of Directors
Mr. Gary Cohn, Superintendent

I am writing to voice my concern about the district’s plans to demolish the historic Longfellow School in the Port Gardner Neighborhood. The building is over a hundred years old and has inherent value in our community, being the place where generations have been educated as well as having historical architecture. To tear it down simply because the school doesn’t want it would be wrong.

The district’s inability to sell Longfellow in recent years and expense in maintaining it does not warrant the demolition of the edifice. This section of the Port Gardener – Longfellow Neighborhood does not need additional parking. Save the Longfellow School. Myself and many concerned citizens strongly believe that this place belongs in our community indefinitely and it identifies our neighborhood, a parking lot does not! Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Address]
[Phone]

Longfellow School, built 1911.

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