Washington High School (Portland, Oregon)
|Washington High School|
|Front of the former school building in 2013|
|531 SE 14th Avenue,
Portland, Oregon 97214
1924 building still standing
|School district||Portland Public Schools|
|Enrollment||1,557 (1922); 1,826 (1924); 1,500 (1969); 883 (1981)|
Washington High School was a high school in Portland, Oregon, United States, from 1906 to 1981. It was part of the Portland school district. After fire destroyed the original building, a new building was completed in 1924. It still stands, but has been vacant for many years. In October 2013, plans to renovate the building for commercial use were advancing, with a mix of retail and office use planned.
Opened in September 1906, the school was originally named the East Side High School, but changed its name to Washington in 1909. The school is located at SE 14th and Stark. The original building was destroyed by fire on October 25, 1922. A replacement was constructed on the same site, made of reinforced concrete with a brick surface. Designed by the Portland architectural firm of Houghtaling & Dougan, the new building also featured terra cotta trim. It opened for students on September 2, 1924.
In fall 1978, Washington High School merged with Monroe High School and became Washington/Monroe High School. Monroe H.S. was an all-girls vocational sister school to Benson Polytechnic High School. It was established in 1917 at Southwest 14th and Morrison and was named Girls Polytechnic High School until fall 1967, when it was renamed James Monroe High School. Monroe High School had only 470 students in fall 1977, the smallest enrollment of any public high school in Portland. Washington's enrollment had declined sharply in the 1970s, from 1,504 in the 1968–69 school year to 773 in the 1977–78 school year, leading to the decision to merge the two schools, on the Washington H.S. campus.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Portland Public Schools (PPS) was faced with declining enrollment overall, as well, and targeted Cleveland High School (originally Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce) for closure. The Cleveland High School property was divided into two parcels: The site of the school building and the site of the athletic field, originally the site of the Clinton Kelly mansion. Clinton Kelly, an early Portland settler and minister, specified that the property was to be used solely for a public school. If the property was used for any other purpose, or put up for sale, the property would revert to the Kelly estate, and to the living heirs of Clinton Kelly. PPS ultimately decided to close Washington H.S. ("Washington/Monroe" by then), and keep Cleveland H.S. open.
After its 1981 closure as a school, the building was used for school district administrative purposes until around 2003. It remained vacant since then, although it was prepared to house Hurricane Katrina evacuees in fall 2005.
In the 2002–2003 school year, Portland Public Schools identified a number of properties that it considered "surplus" based on the recommendation of Innovation Partnerships and the Real Estate Investment Trust.
In 2005, the City of Portland purchased 5.4 acres (21,900 m2) of the school property for $4.5 million. That parcel included the gym, a three-story addition, a one-story outbuilding and the track and field. At that time, the city was intending to use the land for a community center and athletic fields when funding became available. The remaining 2.6 acres (10,500 m2) comprises two parcels in the northeast and southeast corners of the site, one largely vacant, and the other housing the multi-story brick high school building. Beam Development was planning on developing the space into condos and commercial buildings.
In 2009, Portland Parks & Recreation received funds as a result of the support of Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon H. Smith. This money was received as a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for $665,000. In April 2009, an advisory committee was appointed by Portland Commissioner Nick Fish to develop the scope and program for the facility.
The Washington High School site was used September 3 to October 23, 2009, by the Time-Based Art Festival. Dubbed "The Works", the site displayed many of the visual arts pieces. Though it was opened and cleaned out, in part, due to the TBA Festival, in 2009 the site was still slated to be turned into a community center. Preservation talks about the planned center were still under way.
Concurrently, PPS commissioned an update of an appraisal on the building, which was due to be finished in January 2010. The district also plans to issue a “request for information” to see if any other developers are interested in buying the long-vacant high school. Doug Capps, a PPS facilities manager, told an advisory committee on December 1, 2009, that an offer on the building could be submitted to the school board as soon as March or April 2010.
In 2011, the site hosted the City Repair Project's Earth Day event, Earth Day Incorporated. In April 2011, local volunteers began the process of creating the Buckman Historic District which, if approved, would have included Washington High School. However, the proposal to create such a district was dropped in 2013 after failing to attract sufficient support from property owners in the affected area.
In October 2013, plans for a private firm to acquire the building and begin renovation were advancing. The developer is anticipating orienting the ground floor for retail use and the upper floors as office space.
Decorative relief of a Roman chariot on front of building
- Steven G. Bradbury, 1976, attorney, United States Department of Justice
- Bill Naito, longtime Portland businessman and civic leader
- Jack Patera, former Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks
- Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner, awarded his diploma in 1962 45 years after leaving Washington because he was not allowed to take a required course a year early in order to attend Oregon State University.
- Howard Ramsey, World War I veteran
- "New Schools Finished" (August 24, 1924). The Sunday Oregonian, p. 11
- "High School Too Small; New Washington Building Already Has Student Surplus" (September 17, 1924). The Morning Oregonian, p. 8.
- Collins, Huntly (October 9, 1977). "Reorganization of schools may spell end of Monroe". The Sunday Oregonian. p. B6.
- Durbin, Kathy (May 16, 1981). "Mood at school quiet, somber". The Oregonian. p. A12.
- Binder, Melissa (October 17, 2013). "Washington High School redevelopment excites neighbors, shouldn't affect dog park". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- Polich, Edward L. (1950). A history of Portland's secondary school system with emphasis on the superintendents and the curriculum (Thesis/dissertation). University of Portland. pp. 66,97,160. OCLC 232551057.
- "School Blaze Is Laid To Fire Bug" (October 26, 1922). The Morning Oregonian, p. 1.
- "School Plans Are Ready; Washington Designs To Be Taken Up Wednesday" (April 22, 1923). The Sunday Oregonian, p. 15.
- Collins, Huntly (October 9, 1977). "School's identity feared threatened". The Sunday Oregonian. p. B6.
- Melton, Kimberly (February 18, 2010). "School closures involve more than enrollment". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Leeson, Fred (February 21, 2008). "Neighborhood News Updates". The Oregonian.
- Earth Day Incorporated: We Need You! April 23, 2011 10 am – 7PM | Washington High School (SE 12th & Stark) Field
- Buxton, Matt (April 22, 2011). "Buckman volunteers work to make turn-of-the-century neighborhood a historic district". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Beaven, Steve (May 22, 2013). "Buckman Historic District proposal gets a thumbs-down from the state". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- Duin, Steve (April 24, 2008). "Once upon a time at WaHi". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- Oliver, Gordon (May 9, 1996). "Bill Naito, 1925–1996: Portland loses a civic treasure". The Oregonian, p. A14.
- Nobel Prize.org Linus Pauling Biography
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