Youngstown School’s Beginnings

As families moved in, Youngstown needed a school for the workers’ children. Most could not afford the streetcar fare to Haller School at the top of Duwamish Head. A small school had been operating in Riverside since 1888, the walk over the ridge would be too long and hard. In 1906 the steel mill provided a room in a tiny office building. Seventy children showed up for school in September.

The first teacher, Martha Anderson, couldn’t teach 70 children, so the county superintendent quickly recruited a second teacher. She was Edna Audett, who had just earned her teacher’s certificate. She rode horseback to school every day from her family’s home in West Seattle. These two women divided the children into two grades and two rooms.

When West Seattle annexed Youngstown and then Seattle annexed West Seattle in 1907, the Seattle School District constructed a wood-frame building with classrooms for grades 1-8. Designed by Edgar Blair, the school perched south and east of the tide-flats, at 23rd and Genesee, on flat land up against the base of Pigeon Hill. At the beginning of school in 1908, students were greeted by four teachers, each teaching two grades. A hand-bell rang the start of the school day.

The Riverside school became an annex to Youngstown School. Boys were sent daily as messengers between the two, over the top of Pigeon Hill, up and down a staircase with more than 200 steps, and down West Marginal Way. (3)

There were Duwamish children, too, living on the river at the base of Pigeon Point, but they did not come to school. Early residents remember the Indian encampments on the water. In Riverside, there were “about 200 Indians from there and up the river,” according to Erma Schwartz, but she doesn’t remember any Indian children in her classes. They either stayed with their families or were sent to reservation schools such as the one at Tulalip.

3. The school remains on West Marginal Way with an original blackboard with names still on it.