The Second Ilwaco School 1892
The second of Ilwaco’s schoolhouses was built around 1892 and was located on the hill where the old Ilwaco Presbyterian Church was later built. The old schoolhouse was replaced by one made of masonry, located at Hilltop in 1915. That school burned in 1936 and was replaced by the current building.
Wood Home, Ilwaco School, Ed F.Wood holding Arvin Prescott Wood, Jan. 24, 1895
Ilwaco School with Children on Williams Street.
WB Hawkins Ilwaco Market Truck 1915.
9th and 10th grades at Ilwaco School 1913-14.
Ilwaco School after the fire 1936.
Ilwaco School, Fitzpatrick photo.
Ilwaco School before the fire, Fitzpatrick photo.
Ilwaco school postcard by Fitzpatrick.
Ilwaco School by Fitzpatrick.
Ilwaco public school auditorium entrance, Fitzpatrick photo.
Ilwaco school East entrance, Fitzpatrick photo.
Construction on back of Ilwaco school, photo by Fitzpatrick.
Ilwaco public school and students c. 1915.
Backstory and Context
Ilwaco School and the Wood House
This impressive house was owned by Edward and Gertrude Wood. Ed was the engineering partner in the Ilwaco Mill and Lumber Company. He along with Charles Rogers, sales manager; George Colwell, carpenter; and Orin Heath, sawyer partner; incorporated the business in 1903.
Behind the Wood home is the second of Ilwaco’s schoolhouses. In 1892 the school directors were S.A. Seaborg, Dan Markham and L.D. Williams. That year the district was bonded for $7000 to buy a new site and erect the building. The first public school serving Ilwaco was built in 1882 and was described as “a typical country schoolhouse, except for its setting. It was built on the flats, bounded by a pool of stagnant water on the north, a barn on the south, two saloons on the west, and a pig pen on the east.” The site chosen for this new school was just north of Spruce Street (the Inn at Harbor Village now sits on the site.) It housed ten grades, but always had problems as it was too small and not particularly well built. In 1915 J.A. Howerton wrote in the Ilwaco Tribune “…only a few years ago the directors were compelled to build an addition on the north side of the present school building to prevent it from blowing down, and every few days school was dismissed and the children sent home in order not to endanger their lives by the unsafe condition of the building at that time.”
In 1914 school crowding was the issue. Three districts had consolidated to form District 25 and 224 students attended the Ilwaco school. That year the second and third graders met in the Ben Wise store while the other grades crowded into the main school. Plans were underway to purchase a new school site and to build a new school for the growing town of Ilwaco.
Ilwaco School Fire of 1936
In the early morning hours of February 26, 1936, a fire of unknown origin broke out in the upper floors of the Ilwaco High School. The fire was first spotted by Sylvester Simmons who lived nearby. The fire bell was rung, and despite the early hour it was not long before a crowd gathered, ready to fight the blaze. As flames leaped from the roof, it became clear that the fire was too big for the community to battle. The move was made to save items from the ground floor, such as the furniture, school records, and “the books of the small, but valuable, library.” A stiff breeze from the south made fighting the fire difficult, but the concrete walls of the building helped keep the blaze contained and away from neighboring structures, including the school gymnasium. At nine o’clock, the busses rolled up loaded with kids from Oysterville and Naselle who were unaware of what had happened.
The school board decided there would be no classes until March 2, when the high school students “will be assembled in the Presbyterian church in Ilwaco, and the grade school students will go to work in the two gymnasiums and the three portable buildings on the school grounds.”
After much discussion and a lengthy search for funds, the decision was made to rebuild. A bigger and better school would be built on the site of the old school. Insurance money, federal funds from the Public Works Administration, and money from the state of Washington covered part of the cost, and a special levy was overwhelmingly approved by Ilwaco voters. Enough money was raised to add a new auditorium to the school. Students were able to begin classes in their new school in January, 1937.
Sources – CPHM Research Files; “Ilwaco’s Early Finns” Published by the Finnish American Historical
Society of the West, Ilwaco Tribune
CPHM Photo Collection – Ilwaco School, Wood Home, Ed. F. Wood Holding Arvin Prescott Wood, Jan. 24,
Sources; CPHM files; The Tribune: June 5, 1936, January 22, 1937, February 28, 1937.
CPHM Photo Collection: Ilwaco High School before the fire, Charles Fitzpatrick Collection – Ilwaco High School fire 1936, Ilwaco School c1937.
CPHM Photo Archive - 1988.43 171.361.106
CPHM Photo Archive - L1984.280 171.133a
CPHM Photo Archive - L 1984.200 171.104
CPHM Photo Archive - 1984.227-171.109.44
CPHM Photo Archive - 1984.293.14
CPHM Photo Archive - 19220.127.116.11B
CPHM Photo Archive - 2017.050.020-Ilwaco-High-School-before-fire-Fitzpatrick
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.75-171.58c
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.75-171.58d
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.75-171.58e
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.75-171.58g
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.75-171.58r
CPHM Photo Archive - L-1984.298.1