The Cooper School served the Delridge neighborhood for 82 years, educating generations of Delridge children, but was closed in 1989 because it did not meet the standards for a modern school building. In 1999 the residents of Delridge, through the neighborhood planning process, identified the restoration of the school as a top priority. A study was commissioned of potential uses for the school, and in 2002, the nonprofit Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association made an agreement to buy the building from the Seattle School District and restore it as artist housing and a cultural arts center. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Inspired by the research into the school’s history, the staff of DNDA and Judy Bentley, Pacific Northwest historian at South Seattle Community College, began recruiting volunteers and students at the college to interview alumni of Cooper School, to learn more about the history of the school and neighborhood. Over the next three years 30 alumni from the 1920s through the 1980s were interviewed and their stories transcribed. In addition to their stories, the project gathered photos and memorabilia from various sources including the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum. The stories and photos resulted first in a display that hangs in the newly renovated school, and now in this website. In 2006, Peder Nelson, a student at South Seattle Community College and Evergreen College contributed a series of maps of Delridge over the decades. Funding for the project was provided by 4Culture, King County’s cultural services agency, South Seattle Community College Foundation, Washington State Library, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the alumni of Cooper School, with special thanks to Aurora Valentinetti. The website was designed by Anna Callahan, a resident at the Cooper building.
The Cooper School, now using its original name of Youngstown School, was reopened as the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in 2006. The school houses a small middle school as well as arts education programs for young people, dance and theater performances, gatherings and many other events. The upper floor classrooms are now apartments for working artists. More information about the school can be found at www.youngstownarts.org or by visiting the facility at 4408 Delridge Way SW in Seattle.
DNDA and SSCC would like to express our gratitude to the alumni of Cooper School for their generous investment of time in this project, including Darlene Allen, Georgia Baxter, Dale Carpenter, D.J. Carpenter, Dale Corliss, Gloria Coyle, Betty Dunn, Sharon Ackerlund, Darla Fox, Karin Freeman, Fred Hansen, Clifford Harrington, John Hendron, Barbara Iacolucci, Chris Laxamana, Gino Luchessini, Betty MacWatters, Vivian McLean, Walter Millot, Debra Miles, Marsha Munson, John Murray, Janice Newell, Iris Nichols, Margaret Prebo, Patty Schille, Holly Schwald, Nick Skalabrin, Grace Suyematsu, Fred Tharp, Jerry Tharp, Thelma Thornquist, Paula Tortorice, Harold Tuffs, Aurora Valentinetti, and Mary Alice Willi.
We would like also to thank our volunteer interviewers, Lucia Enriquez, Edie Neeson, and Judy Sweetland, and our student interviewers, Carlene Butzerin, Annie Copeland, Adrienne Doronio, Melissa Flynn, Gregory Follett, Paula Hubbs, Ronnina (Faye) Mina and Jason Williams. Special thanks to our volunteer transcriber, Jolene Bernhard and to Mike Hipple who photographed the narrators for this site.