1915 Normal School - Showalter Hall
Laying the cornerstone June 27, 1914
Construction of the auditorium
The Normal School at right, Training School center, and in the background, at left, is the Manual Arts building
The swimming pool in the 1920s
The Normal School in 1930s.
Backstory and Context
On June 27, 1914,
some 2,000 dignitaries, teachers, students, and spectators gather for the
elaborate ceremony led by Senator William J. Sutton, grand master of the
Washington State Masonic lodges to lay the cornerstone for a new Normal School
administration building. Salvaged from the ruins of the old building, they also
set the 1896 cornerstone on the opposite side of the entry.
The brick for the
new building came from a factory at Mica, Washington and the terra-cotta used
in the decoration of the building came from Renton, Washington. The interior of
the building was finished in oak with marble floors. It was built in an eclectic
style that includes elements of Classical and Renaissance Revival. It is three stories high, with basements and
a half story extension above the auditorium state in the rear wing. The frame was built of steel and reinforced
The use of stone and
steel for the frame of the building was to guard against fire after the loss
of the two prior schools.
While the rooms
themselves have been converted for new purposes, the original doorways and
walls can still be seen in most of the building.
Facing the front
entrance, the right wing of the first floor held the domestic sciences
department with a kitchen and dining room, as well as sewing and fitting rooms.
The agriculture and biology laboratories were in the left wing.
offices and general classrooms were on the second floor, as well as a large
The library was
located on the third floor above the reception hall. Skylights added natural
light to the 1915 era electric ceiling lights. This library served students
until 1940. The third floor also held
the chemistry and physical laboratories.
The first floor of
the rear wing housed the gymnasium. It had a maple floor and concrete bleachers
on each side. At the rear of the gym there were dressing rooms, showers, and a
40 x 19 foot swimming pool. The gym area was later converted into a large classroom.
The pool has been covered. In the 1940s, there was a small bowling alley in
this section of the building. It was moved to Isle Hall in the 1950s.
The upper level of
the rear wing housed the auditorium. It originally held 747 wooden seats. In
1968, they were replaced with wider upholstered seats, reducing the capacity to
627. The stage area looks much as it did in 1915. The classical motifs, the Ionic
pilasters with Corinthian capitals, Greek fret-work, swags, and garlands are
still there. Panels of elaborately molded plaster are still painted with the
original gold leaf color.
was an orchestra pit in front of the stage, but now the stage extends over that
The ceiling is still
decorated with egg-and-dart molding, foliage brackets, and gold leaf
embellishments. The hanging gold leaf chandeliers are original, though
spotlights have been added. In the center of the ceiling, you can still see the
large round screened openings that constantly pushed fresh air through the
dedication took place on May 27, 1915. In another ceremony on June 14, 1940,
the building was named Showalter Hall in honor of Normal School President, Noah
D. Showalter, who lead the school during the years of disruption following the