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Brighton Beach: The "New" Brighton High School

RVHS Photo #99.18.03

The above photograph was one of four donated to the Historical Society last year that contained an image of the second Brighton School. This one shows Rainier Avenue in the foreground with Brighton school in the distance.  The school building was built in 1905 and as the building appears new in the photos, it establishes the approximate date of the photos.

The original Brighton School was completed in January of 1901 and was located at 51st and Graham Street.  It was a one-room school for grades one through three and used until the new Brighton was built.  It is now the site of the Graham Hill School. 

The new Brighton School on Holly Street was partially destroyed by a fire in 1946 and was replaced by the present brick building.

I decided to write this article about the Brighton community because the 124 unit Brighton Place apartments has just been purchased by the Southeast Seattle Senior Foundation and renamed "The Brighton". The dedication is scheduled for September 30th.  (See article in this issue of SDJ.)  I didn't know as much as I should about the Brighton Community so I did some research. 

Printed on the lower left corner of the photo is "#280 at Brighton".  I don't know what the significance is of the #280 but I thought the "Brighton" would indicate it was Brighton Street, right?  Wrong!  The photo was taken on Holly Street looking west, across Rainier Avenue.  

Brighton Street is one block south between Holly and Willow but it does not cross Rainier Avenue.  It dead-ends on the West Side of the Brighton School property and then continues on the East Side of the school toward Rainier Avenue.  It then dead-ends a little less than a block from Rainier.  Coming from the lake on the eastside of Rainier, it dead-ends at 51st Avenue S. next to the former Brighton Presbyterian Church. 

 When the contractor and former owner, John Conners built the Brighton Place apartments in the late '60s he had Brighton Street vacated.  It is interesting to note that "The Brighton" is situated exactly where Brighten Street used to be.  I think everyone will agree that keeping the Brighton name was an appropriately decision. 

I looked at the 1920's Seattle plat map we have that shows all the streets and every lot.  It showed Holly Street on the north and the next street to the south was Willow Street.  Brighton Street was not even listed.  It must have been added later when the lots in the area were platted.

I next checked our Polk, King County Directory of 1911-12.  The community listed under Brighton had the following description: Also called Brighton Beach.  A station on the S. R. & S. Electric Ry. and Lake Washington, within the (Seattle) city limits, 5 miles south of Pioneer Place.  (It had)  Telephone connections.  Mrs. Mary E Knapp P M. (postmaster).

It listed eleven businesses and the mix of those businesses tells us some interesting things about the community.  Boyle & Kelley, real estate;  Emil Carl, fuel; Ernest Hadlock, grocer;  Thos H (Mary) McGrath, grocer & feed;  Cepha C (Fannie) Morrison, cigars and confectionery."  

There was an interesting thing about the remaining six businesses.  They were all in the floral business.  Frank Bell, florist; A. E. Buxton, carnation grower, Tel Beacon 826; Clarence E McCoy, florist; Aug D Risdon, florist; J A (Ida) Sahli, nurseryman and florist, Tel Beacon 966;  & H B Slauson, florist.  Truly a gardening community.    

Notice the sidewalk on the left side of Holly Street that goes from Rainier Avenue all the way to the school.  It has a fence on the left side and is partially elevated over what appears to be a garden area.  My guess would be flowers.  I suggest that the fence could have been installed to keep the school kids out of the flowerbeds on their way to and from the school and the streetcar line. 

That area was quite swampy in those early days and the school probably installed the sidewalk to keep them out of what must have been a very muddy street. 

The buildings in the photo of the intersection of Rainier and Holly probably house some of those businesses listed in the directory.  That will call for more research at a later date to identify them. 

Just beyond the porch of the building to the right, you can see the top of the streetcar line's, Brighton Beach Station.  There appears to be a man waiting for the S.R.& S. Ry. streetcar on the platform next to the tracks.

The corner property across Rainier Avenue with the white storefront and the double doors is now the site of the Arches Apartment designed by local architect, Ken Koehler.  He was also the architect for The Brighton apartment building.  And John Conners who built The Brighton also built the Arches Apartment. 

Norm and Barbara Chamberlain own the Arches and Norm told me the white store building with the double doors is still there.  The Arches building was built around it and it became part of the apartment complex.  Interesting things come to light when you start investigating the area's history. 

  Across Holly Street, the building on the left is now the location of the S. E. Seattle Senior Center.  "The Brighton" is located just to the left of it, bringing the dream of a Senior Campus closer to reality.

Many thanks to the dedicated people from our community that worked all year to put together the financing for the purchase of The Brighton, the only senior retirement apartment complex in Southeast Seattle.  

Days Gone By 

South District Journal 9/29/1999

By Buzz Anderson


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