Bilingual Empowered-Successful for Today and Tomorrow-the BEST!
The Washington School for the Deaf is the state of Washington’s only ASL-English bilingual school for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Washington School for Defective Youth was established on February 3, 1886 in Vancouver, Clark County by Watson Squire, the eleventh territorial governor.
The first site where students were housed was an abandoned frame boarding house called “Alta House” at the foot of Washington Street near the present beginning of the Interstate Bridge. It is thought that no classes were taught here.
The school moved to a frame court house building in the middle of town on West Reserve Street on March 11, 1886. The first classes were most likely held at this location.
In September of 1886, the school opened at a 129-acre tract in the Brookside addition on the west side of Burnt Bridge Creek on Fourth Plain. Seventeen children were in attendance, including one blind student.
The Fourth Plain property was exchanged for 17 acres that were more accessible to Vancouver with a beautiful view overlooking the Columbia River, “The Great River of the West.” This is the present site of the school. The property was the original site of Fort Vancouver from 1824 to 1846, built by the Hudson’s Bay Company, a British trading company.
The Legislature, after an appeal of a group of deaf and blind students, appropriated money for a new brick building called the Main Building.
Washington Territory became a state.
School director, James Watson, recommended that the “feeble minded” be separated from the deaf and blind students to a building about a half mile away.
Edmund Price became the first graduate of Washington School for the Deaf.
The “feeble minded” were relocated to Medical Lake in Eastern Washington. The school changed its name to the State School for the Deaf and Blind. Blind students were relocated to buildings formerly occupied by the “feeble minded.”
A new building was erected east of the Main Building called Mead Hall. The new building was used as a dormitory for the boys and also contained the gymnasium, shoe shop, and print shop.
The first Boy’s Athletic Association was started at the school. A Literary Society was established that held lectures,book reviews, debates and plays.
The Christian Endeavor Society was founded and subsequently dropped during the 1960’s because of the law prohibiting religious ceremonies on state property.
A 160-foot well was drilled to supply water to the school.
The first Clarke Hall, a girls’ dormitory, and the Maintenance Building (originally called the Industrial Building) were erected.
The two schools were officially separated by names, the State School for the Deaf and the State School for the Blind.
WSD defeated Vancouver High School to win the championship of Clark County.
Divine Hall was built to house twelve classrooms, a chapel, a storeroom, and a domestic science classroom.
The Dining Room and Watson Hall were opened.
Hunter Gymnasium was built.
Harold Stickel became the first President of the Student Body.
Deer and MacDonald Hall were erected to serve as the two boys’ dormitories.
Northrup Building was built as a primary school building.
The second Clarke Hall was built to serve as the girls’ dormitory. Lloyd Auditorium was built.
A new addition was erected onto the dining hall. WSD acquired 10 adjacent acres for recreational purposes.
Epperson Building was built (Vocational Building).
Administration Building was constructed.
Superintendent’s home was built (later became Business Office).
Divine High School was built.
WSSD celebrated Centennial – 100 years!
Construction began on three cottages to replace the dorms as residential buildings for WSD students.
Students began to occupy the cottages, which were named MacDonald, Roberts and Watson.
Former Administration Building/Business Office was demolished and a new parking lot was put in its place.
Legislature approved capital project to replace maintance/voc/cafeteria buildings
Deer Hall Demolished. Roberts Cottage renamed “Deer Cottage” and Student Health Center officially named “Roberts Student Health Center.”
Kastel Building Opened (Cafeteria/Vocational/Maintenance)