School Board objects to nomination of Lincoln School to National Register of Historic Places

Nominaton of Lincoln School to National Register of Historic Places

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Lincoln School on 10 Most Endangered List 2015

Lincoln School and bus

Port Townsend Leader article, 6/3/2015



Update, September 19, 2017

The Lincoln School has formally been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

National Register of Historic Places 

Update, June 28, 2017

On June 27, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation voted 7-0 to list the Lincoln School building on the State Register of Historic Places and recommended it be placed National Register of Historic Places.

Update, June 21, 2017

The nomination of the Lincoln School Building to the National Register of Historic Places will be reviewed by the Governor's Advisory Council in Coulee Dam, WA on June 27. A link to the nomination is to the left.

Lincoln School Building

Lincoln School on 10 Most Endangered List

Every year, historic properties across the state of Washington are threatened by a variety of challenges, including lack of funding, deferred maintenance, neglect, incompatible development, and demolition. Since 1992 the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has maintained a Most Endangered Historic Properties List, bringing attention to threatened buildings, sites and historic places in Washington State.

Inclusion in the Most Endangered List is an important initial step in highlighting these threats and bringing attention to those historic resources in need. Historic properties selected for the Most Endangered list receive advocacy support and assistance from the Washington Trust as they partner with local organizations and concerned citizens.

Lincoln School Post Card

Built at the same time as Port Townsend's major civic structures (the Jefferson County Court House, U.S. Customs House, and Port Townsend City Hall), the palatial Lincoln School was tangible evidence of the community's commitment to the education of their children. It was initially known as being one of the most handsome public buildings in the state and served as a public school for 86 years.

In 1980 the building was deemed a "fire trap" by the local fire chief and vacated in the middle of the school year. The building is solid but vacant. Until three years ago the first floor was used as office space for the school district. It is currently used for storage. It has broken and boarded up windows and "electrical and plumbing issues." A seismic retrofit is needed. The mortar needs re-pointing.

In 2014 the Port Townsend school district put out a 90-day Request For Proposals (RFP) for restoration and adaptive re-use of the building, seeking to enter into a 30 year lease with a qualified respondent that would ensure retention and continued use of the building.

The building is located in a historic residential neighborhood and has spectacular views. Adaptive reuse would ideally include live/work spaces in support of:

Lincoln School before with Clock Tower

The Lincoln School was designed by G. C. Clements & Co., Tacoma, architects, and constructed by J. T. Long & Co. of Tacoma in 1891, completed February, 1892 for a cost of $73,000. The building was 100 x 150 feet with two stories plus an attic and basement.

It is unreinforced masonry with a Chuckanut stone foundation on concrete footings. The superstructure is brick with stone and iron trimmings. Walls are hard-burned brick laid in lime and cement mortar. The architectural style was Renaissance, with ornate, carved stone work at all three entrances. The interior was finished in a mix of native cedar and molded and carved oak, manufactured by the local Hastings Lumber and Manufacturing Company. H. G. Barthrop, local firm, finished the stairways and railings. It was initially known as being one of the most handsome public buildings in the state.

The Lincoln School was largely completed by February of 1892, the same year the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Port Townsend City Hall, and the U.S. Customs House and Post Office were also completed.

A downturn in national economy slowed down the school’s interior fit up and its opening until 1894. The upper floor auditorium was still not finished in 1914 when, on occasion of a graduation, students were reminded to step carefully on planked walkways resting on joists so they would not fall to the floor below.

Lincoln School with Lowered Tower

The majestic clock tower was altered in 1899 when the school district paid $330 to lower the tower, which it seems, may have been unstable by that time.

Lincoln School after remodel

Completed with help from the Public Works Administration the building was remodeled to resemble the design of the neighboring high school, which was under construction at the same time. This 1936 remodel was designed by Seattle architect Fred Stephens. The building continued to be used as an elementary school for more than 40 years.

In the remodel the original grand scale of the Lincoln School was greatly diminished. In all, as much as 15,000 square feet of floor area was eliminated. The original roof structure and the top floor were removed and replaced with a flat roof and raised parapets. On the north side, the base of the tower, the main entry and the flanking rooms with turrets were demolished. The porches and turrets on the east and east ends of the building were removed and replaced with new entries leading to three-story high, open stairwell.

The building's former orientation facing north was changed to face south and the new high school campus. The wide central hallways were reconfigured. All of the windows and doors were replaced. New toilet rooms were built on each floor. Interior trim and finishes were completely redone. New maple flooring was installed in the classrooms; composite magnesite flooring was laid in the hallways and restrooms.