Looking Back: Salish Crossing and the historic Edmonds High School portico

I was in Hawaii on vacation from the cold weather and snow of Anchorage, Alaska, and returned on March 5 to read from an earlier publication of My Edmonds News about the controversial decision by the Edmonds City Council to deny funding for an informational panel for the historic Edmonds High School portico, now located at Salish Crossing in Edmonds.

Having been a student in the high school building for six years, I found the article and the comments interesting.  Yes, you read it right, six years. No, I was not a slow learner — at one time the EHS building housed more than a four-year high school. With a shortage of space at Edmonds Grade School, for several years the seventh and eighth grades of the grade school were assigned to continue their schooling at the high school building. When I entered seventh grade in the EHS building, it was 1939, and the school had just been remodeled from the old red-brick building to the more modern stucco building which most people still remember.

For me, the six years went by fast, and I graduated from EHS in June of 1945, almost 75 years ago.   Many years later, before they each graduated from Edmonds Senior High at Holmes Corner, my four children attended junior high in the former Edmonds High School building at 4th and Daley Streets in Edmonds.

Looking back at a bit of school history—Edmonds School District #15 was organized in 1884.  However, it wasn’t until early 1909 that it was decided that a separate building for a four-year high school was needed. Until that time, an accelerated high school course in the eighth grade, which was available at the Edmonds Grade School, was the only advanced education course for students in the school district.

The three faces of Edmonds High School:

The cornerstone for Edmonds High School was laid on November 30, 1909, and in May of 1910 the first graduating class from the high school consisted of only three students.

Some history that may be mostly forgotten, and perhaps unknown to many newer residents—Edmonds High School was actually part of the history of more than the city of Edmonds. After the first graduation class in 1910, for half a century, it was the only high school in the entire Edmonds School District. If you lived in the areas that became Lynnwood, Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace or Brier, and even Esperance, Seattle Heights and Martha Lake, you would have attended Edmonds High School at 4th and Daley in Edmonds. In the early days, it was a long and bumpy bus ride for many students who lived many miles away in the outlying areas of the school district.

In fact, Edmonds High School was the first four-year high school in South Snohomish County.

There is another fact that makes Edmonds High School stand out in our local history. In 1911, Edmonds’ own personal legend, Frances E. Anderson, graduated from the original high school.   Prior to Edmonds High School’s opening and its becoming an accredited four-year high school, Frances Anderson would have been limited to only the eighth-grade accelerated high school course that had previously been provided by the Edmonds School District — and she may not have qualified to further her education and for the accreditation needed to become a teacher and school administrator in the more advanced field of education.

Frances Anderson’s younger brother, Otto Anderson, who became an attorney in Edmonds and Everett, was in the 1913 graduating class from Edmonds High School.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of both early-day Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.


  1. How much would it cost to fund the informational panel? I went to Lakeside, but I’ve lived in Edmonds since 1961, and I’d be glad to donate. Can someone set up crowd funding? If a Lakesider can donate, I bet Edmonds High grads would, too!

  2. As always, great article Betty Lou! This informational panel about a historical artifact would have greatly attracted interest and help tourist to understand the wonderful history of Edmonds. We have many informational panels throughout Edmonds and this article helped me understand more about this artifact. Thank you!

  3. My father and his siblings all graduated from Edmonds High School during the mid 1930’s to 1940’s and my grandfather was also the custodian! I also was a student there when it was a junior high. There is l lot of rich history as Betty Lou has pointed out. I’m disappointed that the city council has chosen to withdraw the fund for the informational panel.

    1. Very interesting article! Love to learn more details of our history” here in Edmonds.
      I believe principal at EHS, was Mr. Hall. His wife taught first grade at the old Edmonds Elementary. She was my teacher. I lived close by and spent much time in her home playing,creating books. They were loving people and enriched many of our lives.
      I believe many of us would donate to the historical panel.

  4. Love this idea to commemorate Edmonds High School’s long history.
    The cost to create an informational historical panel would be @ $3500- $3800, if similar to the new Missouri Hanna panel on Sunset Avenue. (Mother of Journalism and suffragist of WA state).
    That project was funded through county and state grants.

    1. My understanding is that the language has already been drafted and was ready to go for this project based on council decision last year to fund. $5,000 had been budgeted for the project.

    2. Yes, thank u Betty Lou. I didn’t know the high school when it was red brick – I attended junior high there as they finally built the new Edmonds Hi with a cafetorium which leaked and outdoor drippy hallways – I was sad to leave the old high school and so grateful it was saved.

      I have watched Edmonds for years tear down historical buildings – I too was surprised the portico didn’t seem
      Important – the cost wasn’t high – I would donate too.

  5. It is a shame that the City Council would deny funding an interpretive sign for a historical landmark such as this.

    I moved these terra-cotta panels around multiple times for my Uncle, and wondered how he was going to make the portico work. I think it really turned into a spectacular gathering place for a very-highly traveled intersection in Edmonds. What was missing, however, was a nice write-up informing everyone what it is, and a brief history of what it looked like 100 years ago. Many cities and towns have displays similar to this.

    If I recall correctly, I believe he even had to make a donation to the Arts Center to save the panels, which were slated to go into the trash. I don’t think the donation was petty change either, but I remember it being well in excess of the $5000 cost of the sign.

    I also recall that our family (not sure which of the brothers) was involved in trying to save the old Alderwood grade school portico. Unfortunately, that one did end up in the trash. History lost forever.

    When someone values our history, and spends their own resources to share that history with everyone, they should be commended by our City leaders, not accused of creating “fake history”.

  6. Mr. Brown,
    I truly respect and appreciate your offer to pledge funds toward the informational panel for the old Edmomds High School portico. Much of our local history is being lost to the fog of time, and I entirely agree we should seize opportunities to celebrate our past. The portico structure, as Betty Lou points out, was part of the high school entrance thousands of Edmonds students over many decades passed through on their way to class. It is unfortunate some have opposed funding for an informational panel for this item—calling in “fake history.” It is certainly not fake and it is certainly part of Edmonds’ history. I will be glad to join you in pledging $250 toward the informational panel fund, and would encourage our current City Council to reestablish City funding in 2020 of at least 50% of the $4,000 cost of the panel. This is a perfect opportunity for a public/private effort to create signage to explain an important element from our city’s history. Let’s not let the opportunity slip away.

    1. Thank you. This could be a great way for our little community to pull together at a time when health issues are isolating us.

      “Fake history” is a hoax, to use another popular word used to divide us and quash discussion.

      When history is being buried or forgotten, Edmonds can pull together.

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