By Lucy DeYoung
Why is the important to our community? After all, as I have been told several times lately it is not a very attractive building. However, buildings, like people gain attractiveness from their character and what is inside, not just from their physical beauty. The Old School has great character and what has gone on inside its halls is very important to the history of our community.
Woodinville is a community with a rich history. Unfortunately, we have very few building to remind us of that rich history. Are we going to replace our history with another parking lot or a new beautiful, shallow, shiny building or another strip mall? What will we leave for future generations to show them where we came from as a community?
The Old School was designated a Landmark Building by the City for several reasons. First, it is one of the few buildings left in the Seattle area that is a well preserved example of a Public Works Administration (WPA) project. The style of the Old School represents the architecture of the 1930’s and was designed by notable Washington architect Frederick Bennett Stephen. The 1930’s was also a very important period in Woodinville’s history. A larger school was needed because of the growth in the community. Woodinville was a growing, vibrant community in the 1930’s as it is today.
Next, the property on which the Old Woodinville School sits has been the heart of Woodinville since 1892 when Arthur and Mary Calkins gave five acres to the community for a school. It has been the place where this community has met for educational, recreational, and community needs for over 100 years. The school also serves as the gateway to Woodinville, one of the first buildings you see when you come into town. To me, it is “northwest woodland character” the feeling the City is trying to create for our town.
Much has been made lately about what is “northwest woodland character.” To me it represents our values as a community. It is a feeling not a thing. It is the environment in which we want to live - that small town feeling. It is where you want to hang out. It is where people are still friendly and smile when they let you merge into traffic. It is where you want to raise your family. It is where you know and talk with your neighbors. It is where you want to grow up and grow old. It is the feeling you get when you go into Molbak’s on a rainy afternoon; or when you drive by the Ballfields on a sunny Sunday afternoon and you see all the kids out there playing.
It is the why so many people have spent their entire life in Woodinville. It is what makes Woodinville special. And, it is the feeling the Old School’s students had at their reunion when they talked about going to school there and when they wrote the names of their teachers on the blackboards. It was magical and it was the same feeling whether they went there in 1920 or 1980.
The Old Woodinville School represents what has been the cornerstone of our Community for over 100 years and can once again be that cornerstone where we go for educational, recreational and community needs for the next 100 years. It is the heart of Woodinville.
In 2005 the City Council appointed the OWS Task Force to develop recommendations for future uses of the Old School. The Task Force met many times for three years. We met with and gathered information from county preservation and landmark representatives, architects, developers and community groups.
In developing its vision the Task Force looked at public uses at one end of the spectrum, a mix of public/private uses, and totally private uses at the other end of the spectrum. We settled on a mix of public and private uses to best meet the needs of this community.
I want to stress that these potential uses are complimentary and not in competition with the Carol Edwards Center.
- Library Services
- Woodinville Repertory Theater whose facility can also be used by businesses/community groups as a multi-media meeting room when not being a theater
- A Restaurant on the main floor with a deck overlooking the Ballfields
- Tourism Central for visitors and local residents
- Wine Tasting Rooms
- A Brew Pub
- Retail Shops
- A historic classroom for elementary students to experience going to school in the early 1900s
- Office/loft space
- Individual businesses
- Sports Leagues
These are all uses we need as a community to make Woodinville an even better place to live, work and play.
I can visualize parents sitting on the future deck overlooking the ballfields having lunch while watching their children play soccer or baseball. I can visualize tourists and residents having a place to go to find out where the over 70 wineries we now have are located. I can visualize both residents and tourists going to the Old School to find out what activities are going on in our community. I can visualize going to a play at the Woodinville Repertory Theater on a Friday night after having had dinner in the restaurant downstairs. I can visualize parents going on a Sunday afternoon to their child’s play the YMCA is putting on at the Repertory Theater. I can visualize the retired teachers from Brittney Park teaching classes to elementary students dressed in turn of the century garb sitting at turn of the century desks being taught what our ancestors learned in school in 1900. I can visualize a young couple on a Saturday night going to the brew pub in the basement to meet their friends. I can visualize the Old School being a vibrant, active part of Woodinville’s community again for all ages to enjoy.
The Consultants Report confirms that contrary to the rumors that have circulated for years that structurally the Old School is in pretty good shape. We need to act now before the Old School deteriorates further. The Old Woodinville School may look plain and tired now, but that is because it has gone through years of neglect by the City. Its beauty is in its great character and what has gone on inside its halls and what can go on inside its halls again. It can once again be the proud gateway to our community because we have the chance to save our heritage and make that heritage the heart of our community again.
Lucy DeYoung is a property owner in the City of Woodinville. She is also President of the Woodinville Heritage Society and was the Chair of the 2008 Old Woodinville School Task Force appointed by the City Council to develop a vision for the Old Woodinville School. She is the past chairman of the Evergreen Hospital Foundation Board. She is a member of the Woodinville Cemetery Board and a member of the David Douglas Chapter of the DAR. She was also the first Mayor of Woodinville.