Once a tribute to plywood, an aging school finds itself back in the spotlight

Built in 1957, Hoyt Elementary is fairly young by most historic preservation standards, but it’s the school’s place in history that is attracting attention today. The architect, Robert B. Price, was tapped by the Douglas Fir Plywood Association to design a school that relied heavily on its products. The company funded the design and engineering costs.  

Three older Tacoma schools, including a nearly 60-year-old school created to showcase plywood in modern construction, are poised to garner historic honors, the News Tribune reported.

Built in 1957, Hoyt Elementary is fairly young by most historic preservation standards, but it’s the school’s place in history that is attracting attention today. The architect, Robert B. Price, was tapped by the Douglas Fir Plywood Association to design a school that relied heavily on its products. The company funded the design and engineering costs.

“It was written up in architectural magazines as being a pretty innovative project,” Sharon Winters, co-founder of the nonprofit, Historic Tacoma, that nominated the three schools, told the News Tribune.

A scale model of the school also found its way to a 1959 architectural exhibition in Moscow.

The school is now closed, and the district hasn’t determined how best to utilize the building.

McKinley Hill Elementary School, which was built in 1908 and named after the president, and Oakland Elementary School, built in 1912, are also candidates for the city’s historic register.

McKinley is considered as the best example of American Renaissance architecture in the school district’s inventory of properties. The building is used as a temporary school when students are displaced during construction.

Oakland Elementary School is a Tudor-Gothic or Jacobean style.  The original building, built in 1899, included 12 rooms and a slate roof. Additions have since followed over the years.

If approved, the designations will add protections to the school buildings.

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