Almost everything old is new again: See inside renovated EC Hughes, future home of Roxhill Elementary

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Almost 30 years after Seattle Public Schools stopped using EC Hughes as a full-time elementary school, it will return to that status this fall. A September 4th ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially open the Sunrise Heights campus (7740 34th SW) as Roxhill Elementary at EC Hughes.

But first, the $14 million renovation project is wrapping up.

Back in October 2016, when plans were being finalized both for the Roxhill move and the Hughes renovation, we toured the historic school – a city landmark – with Seattle Public Schools’ Mike Skutack and DLR Group architect Ariel Mieling. We previewed the renovation plan in our report on that tour.

This week, we toured EC Hughes with them again, to see how the work has turned out. It’s not entirely done, but close. Throughout the building, as promised, there is homage to the past as well as new features for the future:

That’s one of the many old doors that have been repurposed into tackboards.

But let’s get back to the entrance:

It’s the most dramatically changed part of the building, with spaces for everything from the offices, to visiting families, to the health clinic, to specialists who’ll be working with some of the students. Mieling had shown us the plan during our October 2016 tour:


And now it’s come to life – pending the arrival of students and staff, of course. Windows and light played a major role in the renovation – preserving the historic windows in the original 1926 Hughes building, replacing the windows on the 1946 addition on its south side (top photo), highlighting skylights on the top floor:

High ceilings were preserved everywhere possible, including classrooms where they’re now anchored by fans:

Classrooms also have “smart projectors,” a step up from the “smart boards” that represented the newest teaching technology in earlier local overhauls and rebuilds:

Also upgraded and replaced – the kitchen equipment:

It’s mostly a “warming” kitchen, as the actual cooking is done at centralized district facilities. But it remains right off the lunchroom/performance area, which is lighter and brighter:

New features there include lighting – stage lighting, too – and new heating equipment. You’ll notice that the pre-existing wood remains in many spots – here’s the library:

Along the staircases, original child-height handrails were preserved even as up-to-code ones were added:

The steps will be resurfaced, by the way.

Some things were removed – like the old hallway lockers. Some things that will stay are the portables left over from the campus’s time as home to Westside School (WSB sponsor). And this vintage 1940s clock that’s now in the office:

Its inner workings reflect the bell times of 70 years ago:

As we’ve been reporting, the campus also holds a new community-built playground; the hardscape near it was to be resurfaced starting earlier this week, the day after we toured on Tuesday. The contractor reached the “substantial completion” level one week ago, Skutack and Mieling told us, and now it’s time for finishing touches, as well as doublechecking and triplechecking. Overall, they say the project is on time and on budget. And when you go see it, look closely – even the historic masonry has been cleaned up.

WHAT’S NEXT: The September 4th ribboncutting – open to all – is scheduled for 11 am, according to a district document; we’re expecting a more formal announcement later in the summer. Meantime, as reported here earlier this month, Roxhill Elementary’s old home will be used for a section of the Interagency Academy alternative high school as well as several special-education programs. In the distant future, Hughes could be a candidate for an addition if the district needed more capacity; at one point this project was tentatively expected to add room, but it was ultimately planned as a simple renovation.

23 Replies to "Almost everything old is new again: See inside renovated EC Hughes, future home of Roxhill Elementary"

  • 22blades June 29, 2018 (6:08 pm)

    Looks like everyone did a fantastic job! This is a beautiful renovation. I’m no bean counter or architect but I really think reusing and refurbing facilities is a green solution (instead of hauling it all to the landfill). I also think the connection to history is really important. Great job!!!

  • John June 29, 2018 (6:11 pm)

    Beautiful and worthy renovation and restoration of a classic.

  • James Clark June 29, 2018 (6:35 pm)

    I will have to go on the 4th to take a look. Will bring back old memories as I went there from 56 to 61

  • Trickycoolj June 29, 2018 (6:37 pm)

    My mom and her siblings went here, would be neat to see more inside! 

  • dsa June 29, 2018 (7:46 pm)

    $14 million, did you see any ADA additions?  It seems it should have qualified for mandatory ADA improvements.

    • WSB June 29, 2018 (8:02 pm)

      Yup. Those are required.

      • dsa June 29, 2018 (10:25 pm)

        Thanks,  The photo does not show a ramp to the lower playfield, which is also is where we gathered for fire drills.

        • Stevejohn July 2, 2018 (8:34 am)

          A new ramp was added to the north side of the building from the multipurpose room to the playfield. When we attended the historic preservation board meeting they even told the designer this was the only place they would accept it. Should make it easier to make kitchen deliveries too!

  • CD June 29, 2018 (10:17 pm)

    Having grown up on the opposite side of 35th from EC Hughes (since ‘89) I have many fond memories, in simpler times, of the blood sweat and tears of learning to ride my bike and playing basketball on that giant empty concrete playground. Also managed to have some YMCA basketball games inside. Back when it felt kind of like living in a small town… How time flys. Nice to see that whole neighborhood getting the face lift it deserves. Just wish the multi unit developments and population influx slows down.

  • Judy June 30, 2018 (8:13 am)

    This reopening is a fitting tribute to all the former staff members but especially to Erma Couden, who lived long enough (103) to know that her school would reopen.  She taught third grade and was the librarian for many years.  Goes to show that teaching doesn’t necessarily shave years off your life! P.S.: The building also has an elevator, from its days as Westside School. 

  • Cinda Christie June 30, 2018 (8:23 am)

    I just love this. Well done. 

  • just wondering June 30, 2018 (11:57 am)

    So wonderful to see the child-height handrails preserved!

  • AJ June 30, 2018 (1:22 pm)

    It looks great! Beautiful wood.

  • anonyme July 1, 2018 (9:25 am)

    Looks like a great job, and delighted to see preservation and restoration instead of demolition and cheap substitutes.  My only complaint is the dry erase boards instead of chalk boards.  Not only are markers toxic, expensive, and wasteful, they are difficult to read and hard on eyes.

    • Brian July 1, 2018 (8:32 pm)

      Whoa did you find this opinion in the 20th century? Rare!

    • Christian July 1, 2018 (8:56 pm)

      Don’t worry, there’s real chalk boards in the back of the classrooms. And some one of the classrooms have original hard wood floors!

      • WSB July 1, 2018 (9:14 pm)

        The ones we visited had what looked like blackboards but we were told they were tackboards.

  • WS Realtor July 2, 2018 (8:32 am)

     Do we know if the boundary area will get redrawn or stay the same?  

  • Sunrise Heights Neighbor July 2, 2018 (8:49 am)

    Do we know what is going on there today?  My house is shaking and the construction noise is very loud.    

    • WSB July 2, 2018 (9:02 am)

      They were working on the paved part of the playground starting last week so might be that.

  • nfolsom July 2, 2018 (9:12 am)

    Looks like a charming mix of preserved historical with attractive and useful modernity. I’m even more looking forward to the new school year’s tutoring. (Shameless plug for!)

  • Katie July 2, 2018 (9:54 am)

    Does anyone know when the playground and blacktop will be open for use? We’ve been wanting to head over there and play, but just aren’t sure when it’s okay to do so

  • KM July 2, 2018 (12:20 pm)

    They are in the process of repaving it this week, but not sure when they plan on opening it. They ripped up the old surface last week.        

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