Ronald School may become city landmark

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Thursday, January 31, 2008 2:33pm

Twenty years ago the Ronald School Building in Shoreline was designated as a community landmark. Now the Shoreline Landmarks Commission is considering turning the building — the home of the Shoreline Historical Museum — into a city landmark.

Historical preservation officer for King County Julie Koler told members of the Shoreline Landmarks Commission Jan. 24 that past and present work to restore the building makes it eligible for city of Shoreline landmark designation.

“The museum has done a tremendous amount of work to restore this building and they are continuing to work,” Koler said.

Director of the Shoreline Historical Museum Vicki Stiles presented a history of the building.

“Part of the building’s importance has to do with the environment it is in,” she said.

Richmond Beach was the first established community close to the building in 1890, Stiles said, and was established in its spot primarily because of transportation purposes including the Mosquito Fleet and the Great Northern Railroad. Early industries such as sand and gravel operations were established in the early 1900s, but the area around Ronald School on North 175th Street — although logged — were largely unsettled.

“Very little was happening until Judge James T. Ronald came,” Stiles said. “He was a very far thinking individual. He really believed in community and community development.”

The mayor of Seattle in 1892 and 1893, Ronald came to what is now Shoreline in 1889, Stiles said. He acquired property and donated the first Ronald School to the community in 1906. As more people moved into the area, a school with a bell tower was built in 1912 and new construction was added to the building in 1926.

“This building became a centerpiece for the community even at that time,” Stiles said. “Today it really stands as a testament to the early settlement patterns of the area and to the importance of education in the area.”

The ongoing restoration work, she said, includes a restored cornice, parapet and porch. By 2012, she hopes the bell tower and windows will be replaced.

Shoreline resident Les Tonkin said the restoration work has been occurring over the last ten years.

“Vicki is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met,” he said. “She is tenacious and has great foresight and determination to get this building done and I’m inspired by her to do whatever I can to make that happen.”

Tracy Tallman of Edmonds told the commission the building is significant because of her father and all the other children who attended the school.

“It’s significant because of its strength and iconic nature,” Tallman said. “We have very few historical buildings in Shoreline.”

Before the Ronald School building can officially be designated as a Shoreline landmark commissioner Robert Weaver said the Shoreline School Board must verify its boundaries. A final decision is expected later this month.

“We will take final action when we’ve heard back from the school board concerning the issues of the boundary,” Weaver said. “I’m really pleased we were able to do this and I’m very impressed with what has been done so far.”

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