Lincoln High School (Tacoma, Washington)

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Lincoln High School
Lincoln High School, Tacoma, WA 01.jpg
701 South 37th Street
Tacoma, Washington 98418
United States
Coordinates 47°13′30″N 122°26′25″W / 47.22500°N 122.44028°W / 47.22500; -122.44028Coordinates: 47°13′30″N 122°26′25″W / 47.22500°N 122.44028°W / 47.22500; -122.44028
School type Public
Status open
School district Tacoma Public Schools
Grades 9–12
Campus type Closed
School color(s) Black and Gold
Mascot Abes
Nickname Abes
Newspaper Lincoln News

Lincoln High School is a historic high school located in the south central sector of Tacoma, Washington, adjacent to Lincoln Park. Part of Tacoma Public Schools, it was named for Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. The school was founded in 1913 and built according to an architectural design by Frederick Heath. It celebrated its Centennial Jubilee in 2014.


After a favorable bond vote by the people on September 2, 1911, the school board of Tacoma Public Schools chose the present site for a new high school. Originally called Lincoln Park High School, it adjoined city park property that was turned over to the school board without charge. The cost of the ground, nearly ten acres, was less than $424,000; the building, $438,000. With equipment, the total investment was about half a million dollars.

On Labor Day, September 1, 1913, the cornerstone was laid; by September 1914, classes began. In the spring of 1915, 98 students were graduated. Enrollment gradually increased, until in 1938 there were about 3,100 students, 709 graduating. When the auditorium could no longer accommodate the graduation exercises, they were held in the Helig Theater (now the Temple) from 1929 to 1932, graduation was moved to the Armory, and then to the University of Puget Sound Field house, and finally to the Tacoma Dome.


Frederick Heath, the architect behind Lincoln High School, Stadium High School, and other noteworthy buildings in Tacoma, sent his partner George Gove around the U.S. to study other schools before designing Lincoln. They wanted it to be state of the art. Style was also considered vital. The architectural inspiration was that of the Eton School in England. The school was built primarily in a Collegiate Gothic style, meant to show a school building that would inspire and last. Carved in Wilkeson sandstone above the doorways were inspirational words such as courage, reverence, grace and "Labor Omnia Vincit" (Labor Conquers All Things).

The building was organized with the three wings, comprising the main building, in the shape of the letter Y. The auditorium is conveniently located for both public gatherings and quick access from classrooms. The tower clock, a silent replacement of the school bell of old, is the dominant feature of the building.

On the grounds, the most distinguishing feature is Alonzo Victor Lewis' statue of Lincoln, unveiled February 12, 1918. The purchase price of $4,000 was made possible by contributions from Tacoma Public Schools and patriotic organizations.

The inscriptions over the entrances - Reverence, Justice, Goodwill, Simplicity, Grace, and Courage - were suggested by the architects and were inspired by similar words which Bishop Keater, in a baccalaureate address at the university, designated as "gateways of the ideal democracy the public school aims to build."

Lincoln High School was substantially renovated in 2007. Designed by K-12 architectural firm DLR Group, the renovation added a new academic building to support Lincoln's transition to a Small Learning Community based curriculum. The exterior renovations including returning the school's original front door entrance; restoration of the iconic clock tower; and restoration of the Justice Arch as the connection between the original school and the new addition.[1][2]


Tacoma's two Federal Empowerment Zones lie within the school's attendance area. The Lincoln International Business District is one block from the school. The Tacoma Mall and the city's largest commercial/retail sector are found less than two miles (3 km) to the west.[3]

Events in school history and the Lincoln Bowl[edit]

On August 31, 1914, the school day was set to begin at 9 a.m., but so many students showed up early to get a peek at the new high school that Principal W.W Parker opened the doors at 7:30 a.m. to let them explore. The walls of the short hallway on the left of the central hub were not yet covered with pictures because there hadn't yet been a graduating class to display there. But someone thought it was a good idea to hang one as soon as there was a graduation. Once one picture was hung, it was fitting for each new class to join their fellow alums on the wall. Those frames were taken down for the renovation. Though they were replaced after the construction was finished, Lincoln stopped placing graduation class photos on the walls after the class of 2005 graduated.

In the 1920s, the stadium was used for Tacoma City League baseball.[4]

Elvis Presley performed at the Lincoln Bowl in 1957.[5][6]

Retired NFL quarterback Jon Kitna joined the staff of Lincoln High School from January 2012 through June 2015, teaching mathematics. In addition, he was hired as varsity football head coach. In 2015 Kitna accepted a position coaching football at Waxahachie High School in Texas.[7]

The visit of President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China in September 2015 provided opportunities for students to explore Chinese music, government and culture.[8]

Notable people[edit]



Perry Watkins, class of 1966, openly gay person to serve in the army for 16 years then be dismissed. He sued the US Army and eventually won after taking his case to the Supreme Court


  1. ^ School District school webpage Archived 2013-11-12 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2011-11-12
  2. ^ History intact at renovated Lincoln, The News Tribune, March 22, 2007 Archived November 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2013-11-12
  3. ^ 2006-07 School Performance Report Lincoln High School
  4. ^ "Tacoma Public Library - Image Archives". Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  5. ^ Elvis Presley performance images
  6. ^ Presley rocks n' rolls Tacoma teenagers into frenzy at bowl Don Duncan September 2, 1957 New Tribune
  7. ^ "Jon Kitna resigns coaching, teaching job at Lincoln High to take job in Texas". Tacoma, Washington: The News Tribune. January 21, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  8. ^ "Lincoln High School Abes prep for President Xi Jinping of China". Tacoma, Washington: The News Tribune. September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ Herbert, Brian. Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert. p. 218. 

External links[edit]