Pacific Northwest | February 29, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineFebruary 29, 2004seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

A Class Building
Photo
COURTESY OF LARRY HOFFMAN
When it was new in 1891, Rainier School would have seemed grandiose for its neighborhood — except that it was filled from the beginning. Primary students were moved from the building in 1940, but it survived for years thereafter as a branch for Edison Technical School. Portables on the site now are a training center operated by Seattle Central Community College.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
RAINIER SCHOOL at 24th Avenue and King Street was one of the first and largest of the 16 Seattle school buildings constructed during the 1890s. That its 12 classrooms were buzzing with more than 400 scholars when it opened in January 1891 was a sign of how explosively the city was growing after its "Great Fire" of 1889. It was also evidence of how effectively the Yesler Way Cable Railway was in guiding much of the city's booming population to build homes along its tracks, from Pioneer Square to Lake Washington.

The Rainier School illustrated here includes the north wing (on the right), added in 1900. The added rooms were needed. For instance, each morning through the 1902-03 term 21 teachers welcomed nearly 1,100 students. If they stayed in Seattle, they might have attended one or more of Bruno J. Benedetti's reunions.

Benedetti, class of 1933, was Rainier's super-alum. Weeks before the 67-year-old structure was razed in 1957, Benedetti staged the last of the Rainier reunions to be held in the school's auditorium. There, he consoled the 500 former students and teachers attending by reminding them that "memories are not encased in a building; friendships don't wither outside the schoolroom ... We shall never forget." Benedetti organized Rainier reunions into the 1990s.

More information about the old school is available in a new book by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. "Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000" is a 342-page encyclopedia covering all the city's public schools. This new history is not merely an update of old school chronicles but an original treatment, and it is elegantly illustrated. To get a copy of the $30 book, contact Eleanor Toews at etoews@seattleschools.org or 206-252-0795.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

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