Education is a cornerstone of great cities, and Spokane is no different. The elegance of buildings like the McKinley School testify to the value that early Spokanites attributed to public education.
The McKinley School, named after President McKinley, was built in 1902 on the corner of Sprague and Napa. This beautiful brick structure once stood on a large, well-manicured lawn. Containing 8 rooms originally, a 9-room addition was added in 1903. The school was open to both boys and girls and enrollment reached 585 in 1909.
As war loomed in 1917, the McKinley school added a military training program to its curriculum, and girls were sent off to nearby Stevens School in their 7th and 8th grades. Though practice was limited to unarmed drills and exercises, it was one of the first military school programs in Spokane grade schools and much was made of it.
At some point in its early years, the McKinley School earned the distinction of being a junior high for ‘difficult boys’ often taking in students that other schools either couldn’t or didn’t want to handle. In 1928 McKinley lost its junior high students to Libby and Havermale but continued to have elementary classes.
McKinley School closed in 1962. According to the press of the time the chief reasons were the aging of the East Central populace and dwindling numbers of children. Three schools were closed that year and remaining children were transferred to schools such as Parkwater.
Today the building is still standing and remains a beautiful structure both inside and out. The owners have expressed the hope that the city would restore its interior and use it for either a community center or for some other artistic or educational use to serve the East Central and surrounding areas. Lack of funds has kept this dream from being realized but there is continued interest for the future.