B.F. Day School

The B. F. Day Elementary School, which is oldest continuously operating elementary school in the Seattle School District, was my first school...

History of the School
B. F. Day began in 1889 in the home of the Steele family. In the late 1880’s, Fremont was reached by boat. Passengers rode the “Maude Foster” or the “Mud Hen” and landed at a dock at the foot of what is now Stone Way. The School moved many times in its tenure, at the time Washington had been a state only three years and the University of Washington was located in downtown Seattle.

In 1891, the Seattle School District received what was probably the most generous donation in its history. A block of 20 lots, valued at the time at $10,000 was given by Benjamin Franklin Day and Francis Day who owned neighbouring farmland and donated this land to assure a school site for their community. In accepting the gift, the Seattle School Board passed a set of resolutions. They expressed a deep appreciation and pledged to erect a brick school building on the site “to cost no less than $25,000 and to be called the B.F. Day School.

In September 1892, the B. F. Day Elementary School, which is oldest continuously operating elementary school in the Seattle School District, opens in the Fremont neighbourhood. The year after the town of Fremont is annexed to Seattle (1891), the four-room brick school building is designed by the school district architect, John Parkinson. The land is donated by Benjamin Franklin Day and Francis Day, who own a 160-acre farm overlooking the community of Fremont.

In 1900, James Stephen designed an eight-room addition (based on Parkinson’s earlier design). It was built in 1901. In 1916, further additions to the school were built, along with concrete retaining walls and stairs along the west edge of the site. These were designed by Edgar Blair.

By 1909, almost 700 students were attending the school. For almost 20 years, the B.F. Day School was the largest elementary school in the city, with enrolment peaking in the mid-1920s at more than 900 students.

School Before the B. F. Day School
In 1889, the children of Fremont went to school at a house at the corner of 36th Avenue N and Whitman Street. There were two teachers. Fremont was reached by boat. Passengers rode the Maude Foster or the Mud Hen and landed at a dock at the foot of what is now Stone Way. In 1890, the school moved to a store building at 36th Avenue N and Aurora, and the following year was relocated to the Good Templars Hall at the corner of 35th Avenue N and Albion Place.

B.F. Day is the oldest continually operating elementary school in the Seattle School District. The 67,500 square foot building received a 5 million dollar renovation in 1991 to assure that the classic turn-of-the-century school would continue to offer students a safe and lovely learning environment, and is a designated historic landmark. It is located at 3921 Linden Avenu.

Sources:
Patricia C. Erigero, Seattle Public Schools: Historic Building Survey (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools and Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, 1989), 54-61; “B. F. Day School”