Move may save old school in Bothell

BOTHELL – A group of residents is trying to convince the city of Bothell of the value of old-school spirit.

In this case, it’s 104 years old, as in a 1902 schoolhouse they’d like to see the city renovate.

“You walk into this, it has soul,” said Thrasher’s Corner area resident Adelaide Loges, as she stood inside the former North Creek Schoolhouse at the corner of 228th Street SE and 31st Avenue SE.

Loges and others want Bothell to move the former schoolhouse to a planned park in the north end of the city.

The schoolhouse was the first built in the area, said Bill Van Natter of Bothell, whose wife Margaret owns the building. Boarded up and used by Van Natter and his family for storage, the one-room, wooden schoolhouse still sits on the spot where it was built.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the state of Washington’s Heritage Register, city officials said.

Bothell is planning to convert 54 acres of open space southwest of the intersection of Highway 527 and 208th Street SE into a nature-oriented park by 2010. Van Natter and Loges believe it would make a perfect interpretive center for Thrasher’s Corner Regional Park.

“It just seems to fit in that passive park,” Loges said. “A new brick building, it just doesn’t have any soul.”

The city hasn’t ruled out the idea. A panel of city officials did not recommend the project for funding in its seven-year capital plan, said Cecelia Duncan, a senior management analyst for the city. But the final decision has not been made.

The city has pegged the total cost of moving and renovating the school building at between $294,000 and $334,000. With $100,000 needed to fence and secure the building’s new site until the park opens, and other costs, the total outlay could reach $560,000, Duncan said.

Van Natter, 79, plans to donate the lot on which the school now stands, valued at $190,000, to the city. This would reduce the total cost to between $370,000 and $330,000.

The city didn’t deduct the cost of a new building for Thrasher’s Corner Park in calculating the cost of rehabilitating the schoolhouse, Duncan said. Plans for the park include a building to house an interpretive center and restrooms.

“Whether it would totally fit the needs of an interpretive center will be decided later,” Duncan said of the schoolhouse.

Van Natter believes the city’s estimate for rehab is too high. The schoolhouse’s front porch is rotting away, but otherwise the building is in good shape, he said. Van Natter re-roofed it himself in 1995, he said. An architect’s report for the city confirmed Van Natter’s contention.

“This building is easy to fix,” he said.

The building was used as a schoolhouse into the 1920s, then used by the Canyon Park Community Club for many years afterward, Van Natter said. The club gave the building and the lot to his uncle in the 1950s, who donated it to Margaret Van Natter in the early 1970s.

If the city doesn’t accept the donation, Van Natter said he’ll try to find another taker, possibly a nonprofit organization. But having it owned by the city will help ensure it stays preserved, he said.

“The building needs to be in the possession of a public body which will provide a use for it that will continue,” he said.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

Council meetings

The Bothell City Council will have a public hearing on the city’s seven-year capital projects plan at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Bothell Municipal Court, 10116 NE 183rd Street, in the King County portion of the city.

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