Landmark status for old Genesee Hill school? City hearing set

Does West Seattle’s 65-year-old Genesee Hill Elementary School – slated for demolition and replacement – meet the criteria to be a city landmark? A hearing on that question is set for August 7th, according to an announcement from the city:

The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider landmark nomination for Genesee Hill Elementary School at 5012 SW Genesee Street. The meeting will be on Wednesday, August 7 at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 16th Floor in Room 1600.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments. Written comments should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board by 5:00 p.m. on August 6 at the following address: Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle WA, 98124-4649.

A copy of the nomination is available for public review at the West Seattle Branch Library, 2306 42nd Avenue SW (206-684-7444); and at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Office in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave, Suite 1700 (206-684-0228). The nomination is posted on Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website (in three files on this page).

This process is a routine part of projects like this, and also was done for the old Denny International Middle School, torn down and replaced by open space and recreational facilities when the new one nearby was ready to occupy. Seattle Public Schools expects to start building the new school at Genesee Hill next year.

14 Replies to "Landmark status for old Genesee Hill school? City hearing set"

  • Trying! July 18, 2013 (5:15 pm)

    I am with the group that has been helping maintain the Genesee Hill school property. This is a beautiful, natural space which will be greatly missed by the neighborhood when the new school is built. A survey was taken and there are over 100 native trees and plants on this property along with a record setting American Elm, 210 inch girth and over 80′ tall. Very few American Elms survived the Dutch Elm disease and this tree seems to be resistant.(We have contacted a group in Canada whom are cloning resistant trees to bring back the American Elm). I have attended every public meeting about the plans for the new school and at the moment it looks like most of the property will be built or paved over with only a small green area. There is also a push to have the American Elm removed. The former school was for 380 students and the plans for the new school are for 680 students with a large gym and cafeteria.
    I think this is something the Landmark Preservation Board should consider along with the building’s history.

  • wsparent July 18, 2013 (5:27 pm)

    Good point about the beautiful trees. It would be wonderful to keep the elm and some of the large fir on the property. Nature brings a lot to a great education!

  • fulana July 18, 2013 (8:12 pm)

    Yes, people. Let’s place the trees above the children. Great idea!

  • dcn July 18, 2013 (8:13 pm)

    I live near the old Denny site, and I know the architects there worked to keep existing trees in place during the tear-down. Easier to do with the creation of a park instead of a new, bigger building, but it might be possible to save at least some of the trees at the Genesee site.

  • DTK July 18, 2013 (9:13 pm)

    Yes but the trees are the children’s elders.

  • Old timer July 18, 2013 (9:28 pm)

    We’re putting SPS ego and hack architects above the children by replacing a perfectly good building. Why not trees?

    I’m sure some “educator” or “advocate” will come along to tell me how wrong I am, but I’m sure not seeing their effectiveness in the district’s performance.

  • Mike July 19, 2013 (7:37 am)

    $38.9 million project or historical landmark. I dunno, I don’t like either option there.

  • Trying! July 19, 2013 (8:51 am)

    Mike, I’ll buy you dinner if it goes for $38.9 million ;-) They are already talking about how expensive it will be to build on this property that has so many critical angle slopes.

  • Al July 19, 2013 (9:26 am)

    My sister and I went school there. Every one I grew up with did. So there tearing it down?

  • G July 19, 2013 (9:57 am)

    My old alma mater. It was old when I was in elementary school back in the Dark Ages.

  • Holly McCracken July 19, 2013 (1:51 pm)

    I am curious to learn more about the site history. I thought I heard there was an actual longhouse on the property. Not just a mural on one of the building walls.

    The project team and the small design advisory group settled on an option that will destroy the valuable greenspace by putting buildings and driving/parking areas on both levels of the property. It is physically possible to keep the greenspace and the trees (by keeping the buildings, etc. on the top level) without making it a choice between trees and children.

  • History Buff July 19, 2013 (11:16 pm)

    Originally it was built as a truck stop for truckers supporting the construction of the Tulalip Casino back in the early 40s. When the Tulalip was bought out by Ivar Haglund, back in 1952, it became a school for wayward Norwegians. Ivar, bless his heart, willed it to the Tacoma School District, who charged Mayor Landis precisely 6 bucks for it. The rest is even seedier history. Rapid Ride was gonna use it as a cold weather bus stop, ’til the West Seattle bus riders went Sarah Palin rogue on rapid ride. As Sarah says, let riders of the loser cruisers get what they settle for. Though, I heard she would not be adverse to picking up a steamin’ hot dude on the last 56 of the night…yeah. I can sorta believe that.

  • Jeffrey Ochsner August 6, 2013 (3:32 pm)

    I do not think the Seattle Municipal Code allows the Landmarks Board to consider the trees, unless they can be shown to be historically significant. The City of Seattle does have an arborist and the city does have a tree protection ordinance. These people can be contacted if you are serious about trying to protect the trees.

    The Landmarks nomination for the Genessee School is found at the City of Seattle Historic Preservation Program web site. This provides information about the history of the school and may be of interest. You can find it here:

    The Landmarks Board is required to evaluate a building based on the specific provisions of the Seattle Municipal Code that provide criteria by which a building is determined to be Landmark, or not; see:

    The Landmarks Board will consider the Genesee Hill school building on August 7, Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 1600. the meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. Genessee Hill will be discussed around 5:00 p.m. or thereafter.

  • Kerrie Schurr August 7, 2013 (1:21 pm)

    Just to reassure folks, BLRB Architects and Eric Becker of the district have said that the existing slope and its major trees (including the elm, pine, and firs) will be preserved, and this is shown in the latest plans for the new school at Genesee Hill (see the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council’s website to see the plans). Many of the trees are protected because they have been found to be “significant and exceptional” under the city ordinance. Similarly, the slope is considered to be a critical slope and will be protected.

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