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University Historic District Walking Tour, Eastern Washington University
Item 9 of 20
The new Laboratory School in Martin Hall was a cutting edge facility with the most modern equipment when it opened in 1937.

  • Martin Hall, home of the Laboratory School, 1937
  •  The 6th grade class of 1938-39 standing by the east side of the hall.
  • 1946
  • 1947
  • 1948

The number of students enrolled in the elementary grades at the Training School continued to grow. By 1930, the Board of Trustees was looking for funds to replace the old 1908 school. However, the Great Depression meant there was no money available from the state legislature. But in 1935, the federal Public Works Administration approved the Trustees' proposal, and work began on a new school. 

Martin Hall was dedicated to Cheney native, Governor Clarence D. Martin on April 6 1937 during a two-day education conference held in the building. The hall contained the new Laboratory School for teacher training.

Each of the six grades of the new Laboratory school was housed in a suite of four rooms, a main room, workroom, supply closet, and office. The first three grades and the kindergarten were on the ground floor, the upper grades and the library, on the second floor. The large main room had a slate blackboard, bulletin boards, desks, and bookshelves. 

Each of the six grades of the new Laboratory school was housed in a suite of four rooms, a main room, work room, supply closet, and office. The first three grades and kindergarten were on the first floor, the upper grades and library, on the second floor. The large main room held a slate blackboard, bulletin boards, desks and bookshelves. The workroom contained materials for projects, and toys for the lower grade students. The supply closet had a porcelain sink, stainless steel work tables, plus shelves and drawers for supplies.  Along with a desk, the office had filing cabinets and bookshelves. This was the most modern of equipment and classroom design for its time.

The modern design of the kindergarten included a large room with a fireplace, as well as small chairs and rockers for the students. The play room had a large truck, playhouse, rocking pony, and sand table that offered the youngsters a variety of creative opportunities. Small folding cots were provided for the children to rest during the afternoon.

On the second floor above the kindergarten, there was the spacious library. It also had a fireplace. Also on the second floor, was the cafeteria which could be converted into a banquet hall for community use. In the 1940s, the cafeteria was used to hold the teachers' reception each fall as the new year began. Over 160 teachers and community members filled the room, clubwomen providing the entertainment and refreshments.

Next to the cafeteria were the domestic science rooms with electric ranges, a refrigerator, and hotplates among the new modern equipment. The sewing room had electric machines and fitting rooms. The entire department was lit by large windows offering plenty of natural light and ventilation.

Back on the ground floor, beneath the cafeteria in the left wing, was a 400 seat auditorium. The sloping floor offered excellent viewing to all, and a grand piano was available for musical performances. Students had a large outdoor recess area behind the hall.

In 1938, a gymnasium was added to the building. Williamson Hall was added to the north  side of Martin Hall, dedicated in 1979. 

After the campus school was completed to the west of Martin Hall in 1959, the hall was converted to classrooms, lab space, and offices.

Cheney Free Press April 2 and 9 1937; Tilicum Club of Cheney Minutes 1941-1949; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Cheney Washington 1916-1940; The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society photograph collection.