Seattle’s first school, a tuition (private) school, begins instruction in 1854.

Seattle’s first school, a tuition (private) school, begins instruction in 1854.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 4/27/2001
  • Essay 3239

In 1854, Seattle’s first school, which is a tuition or “select” school, opens its doors in a house at the corner of Front Street (1st Avenue) and Madison Street. The teacher is Catharine Paine Blaine (1829-1908), who had arrived with her husband in 1853.

The first students at Catharine Blaine’s school were:

  • Susie and Eliza Mercer
  • Laura, Virginia, and Olive Bell
  • Ursula and George McConaha
  • Hulda Phillips
  • William Smith
  • Becky Horton
  • Robie Willard
  • Kate and Nora Denny

    Later this school moved to Bachelor’s Hall, a single man’s boarding house on 1st Avenue between Columbia and Cherry streets. The school continued to operate as a private school until November 1861, when students were sent to classes in the new building of the Territorial University. The first year of the Territorial University, there were 37 students, of which 36 were below college level.


Patricia C. Erigero, Seattle Public Schools: Historic Building Survey (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools and Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, 1989), 1; Clarence B. Bagley, History of King County (Chicago-Seattle: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929).

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