A large puddle in the middle of a first-floor hallway was thought to be from a leaky roof. Photo by Joe Veyera
A large puddle in the middle of a first-floor hallway was thought to be from a leaky roof. Photo by Joe Veyera

A faded paper sign that reads, “The First Grade Salutes America,” hangs loosely off the wall of a first-floor hallway.

Broken crayons dot the floor of an empty classroom.

The names of kindergartners line the back of an empty coat closet.

Surely, those kids have outgrown the jackets that once hung there. They’re probably in the middle of their freshman year of college by now. It’s been 14 years, after all.

Students and teachers haven’t roamed the halls of the Magnolia School (2418 28th Ave. W.) since 2002, when Coe Elementary finished its temporary use of the space as its current building reopened.

But the school could soon be filled again, depending on the results of next Tuesday’s Buildings, Technology and Academics/Athletics (BTA) IV levy measure.

During a tour of the building on Monday, Feb. 1, project manager Jeanette Imanishi said the school would open in 2018, after around $20 million in renovations, and hold approximately 500 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. Magnolia would be one of three elementary schools to reopen as part of the $475.3 million measure ($87.8 million of which is earmarked for facilities), along with E.C. Hughes in West Seattle and Webster Elementary in Ballard.


Much work to be done

Opened in 1927, Magnolia Elementary School served the neighborhood’s children for nearly six decades, before it closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment. From then on, it served as a temporary site for several schools, including Adams (from 1987 to ‘89) and John Muir Elementary (1989 to ‘90). From 1993 to 2000, the building housed the African American Academy, before it moved to a new location in Southeast Seattle. Part of the building was briefly used by the Seattle Fire Department as a temporary station as Fire Station 41 was rebuilt in the late 2000s.

Last July, the Landmarks Preservation Board gave its unanimous approval for landmark status for the Floyd A. Naramore-designed building. In that 7-0 vote, the features identified for preservation included the exteriors of the original 1927 construction and both the 1931 and 1940 additions, the remaining original classrooms, the four stairways, the central entry hall on the first floor, the doors and light fixtures in the hallways, and the meeting room/cafeteria.

Imanishi, who is tasked with coordinating and directing consultants on the project, noted during the tour that the school’s old library, added in 1969, was not designated as a landmark.

Monday’s media tour also revealed some of the cosmetic work that will need to be done if the levy is approved. In many spots, paint was peeling off the walls, tiles had been jostled from the floor and a large puddle of water sat in the middle of a first-floor hallway, thought to be from a leaky roof.

Many of those cosmetic problems are relatively easy fixes, Imanishi said, while updating the mechanical system will likely be the most difficult project. Ultimately, Imanishi said, the district will try to preserve as much of the building as it can, without getting in the way of the educational experience.

“We’re in the business of educating,” she said.


The future?

While Imanishi said she currently sees a tired, neglected building, she can also envision what the future holds if the levy is approved.

“I see a beautiful place that really enhances kids’ learning environment,” Imanishi said, “and I see kids running around, laughing, playing, learning. I see staff that are really pleased to be in a revitalized facility and really ready to teach.”

For a full photo gallery from Monday’s media tour, visit queenannenews.exposure.co/empty-no-more.

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