Washington School in 1980



Washington, Utah


25 E. Telegraph Street
Washington, UT 84780

Northeast corner of Telegraph Road & Main Street

37° 8' 58" North Latitude,   113° 30' 31" West Longitude


Washington's elementary school is a two-story stone structure in the tradition of turn-of-the-century school buildings seen also in the Woodward School and the Old Dixie College building in St. George which is several miles southwest of Washington.

The plan of the Washington School is rectangular. The roof shape is a truncated hip and includes a central gable dormer with returns on the main facade. In 1922 a one-story hipped roof extension was made in the rear to accommodate a gymnasium. In scale and materials it was well integrated with the original structure. The entire configuration is symmetrical.

The primary facade displays a symmetrical seven over seven piercing. This arrangement includes the round arched entrance-way located under the gabled dormer, and the round arched light above this which houses a fanlight and coupled, two over two sash windows identical to those on the rest of the original structure.

Ornament on the school is limited, the rough-faced ashlar and harmonious proportions providing the visual activity. Quoins, sills, lintels and voussoirs of arches are of a lightly darker red sandstone, also rough-faced. The boxed, molded cornice is quite plain. A border of rectangular stained glass panes marks the second story fanlight of the main facade, echoing the shape of the tablet in the dormer above.


The Washington elementary School may be viewed as a variation of a type of educational architecture popular during the turn-of-the-century decades. As a characteristic extant example of this form and as a local landmark expressing the committment of the early citizens of Washington to the value of education, the Washington Elementary School is sigificant. The facility continues to function as the local elementary school and retains its original integrity.

Washington was settled in 1857 as the first outpost in the "Cotton Mission". In 1863 the first permanent school house, funded by donations, was built of adobe in the southwest corner of the public square, site of the present school. In 1877 a handsome two story sandstone building was built on the square. This hall, built with both taxes and donations, housed the school, church, and other public meetings. This shared use was common, the product of limited means and the identity of congregation and citizenry.

In 1890 an act of the territorial legislature provided for free education at public expense, supported by taxes at territorial, county, and district levels. Teacher's salaries benefitted first and in 1905-1906 the present school building was constructed. Classes continued to meet in the old hall until the 1920's. In 1922 a gymnasium was added to the rear of the building and in the 1930's central heating was installed. The building continues in use as the Washington Elementary School, part of the county school system.

Washington County School Buildings

Although a complete survey of Washington County has not yet been made, preliminary information indicates that this is one of three historic education buildings of this type remaining there. The plan and elevation use of materials, scale and massing of this building place it in a genre of school architecture typical of the turn-of-the-century period, roughly ca 1880-1920. It is a representative of this type and was probably designed by Richard Watkins (1858-1941), who designed between two hundred and three hundred school buildings in Utah, most of which reflect characteristics seen in these examples.

Put on the National Register of Historic Places (#1980003992) on November 23, 1980.

The building is now the home of the Washington City Museum.


Washington School in 1914
WCHS-02343     Old Washington School in 1914
Note the old church/school in the background.

Main facade facing Telegraph Street
Main facade facing Telegraph Street     (photo by Diana Johnson, February 1980)

West side showing later extension
West side (facing Main St.) showing later extension     (photo by Diana Johnson, February 1980)

Other WCHS photos:
WCHS-02419   Photo of 1975-1976 students and faculty in front of the Washington School
WCHS-02420   Photo of Mrs. Taylor's 1973-1974 first grade class at the Washington School
WCHS-02421   Photo of Mr. Empey's 1975-1976 third grade class at the Washington School
WCHS-02422   Photo of Mrs. Nay's 1976-1977 fourth grade class at the Washington School
WCHS-02423   Photo of Mr. Wilson's 1977-1978 fifth grade class at the Washington School
WCHS-02424   Photo of Mr. Tabler's 1978-1979 sixth grade class at the Washington School
WCHS-03605   Watercolor painting of the Washington School
WCHS-03606   Watercolor painting of the Washington School
WCHS-04216   A large group of people in front of the old Washington School
WCHS-05476   Photo of the old Washington School

Other photos on the web:
Photos from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form


National Register of Historic Places, Inventory - Nomination Form

Washington County D.U.P., " Under Dixie Sun - A History of Washington County"
pp. 246-247