At 83, Gatewood Elementary Gets New A Start

A West Seattle school that came into existence in a barn in 1908 is ready for the 21st Century.

Gatewood Elementary School, now an imposing three-level brick building at 4320 S.W. Myrtle St., has been extensively renovated at a cost of $5.1 million, and the memories will come flowing back at a dedication Wednesday.

State, city and school officials will be among those attending the 7 p.m. public ceremonies.

Old photos, pennants and other school memorabilia will be on display, and there will be tours of the building.

It was closed for two years until this fall, while construction - and destruction - were under way. Children who would have gone to classes in the building, designated as a historic landmark, went to the old Genesee Hill Elementary School, now closed.

Marie Floyd, Gatewood's principal for 10 years, said the school first opened in a room in a barn 83 years ago, then moved into a portable building at its present site a year later. In 1910, Gatewood was built there, becoming West Seattle's third-oldest school. It was expanded in 1922.

The building has undergone probably its biggest change and in the process got a gym for the first time. The oldest part of the building was renovated and its exterior walls were strengthened with reinforcing steel, said John Jacobsen, a Seattle School District official.

The 1922 addition was demolished. A classroom wing was built on one end of the building and the gym and a combination auditorium-lunchroom were added at the other end.

Gatewood, which has 315 students, is one of 15 public schools in the city to be remodeled or replaced in a $140 million capital-improvement program in the past four years, Jacobsen said.

Colleen Vineyard, co-chairman of Gatewood's Parent-Teacher Association, has many memories of the old school. She was a student there 30 years ago and now has three children enrolled there.

"You feel nostalgic when you walk through the halls," Vineyard said. "The hardwood floors, the high ceilings, all the details in the woodwork give you a feeling that something positive was done here."