Foster became accredited high school in 1914 | Letter to the editor
May 31, 2012 · 5:49 PM
First, it’s good to see a bona fide Tukwilan as editor of the Tukwila Reporter. Congrats, Dean. Grace Gylling would be proud of you.
I read your editorial recollections (May, Tukwila Reporter) about Foster High School and have a couple of clarifications.
Foster High didn’t start in 1952. It’s true that the first high school building on the current site opened in January of 1953, but Foster actually became an accredited high school in the fall of 1914. High school classes were held at first in the Foster Grade School, which stood on the northern portion of the upper part of what is now Joseph Foster Memorial Park. In 1922 a separate high school building was constructed immediately south of the grade school. You can still see the steps leading from where the high school building was located to the lower playfield at the park.
Foster’s first graduating class, in 1915, was a class of one, Ava Sophia Adams. Recently one of the suggested names for the current school district administration building was in honor of Ava Sophia Adams, submitted by a Showalter student.
Foster Grade School, where high school classes were first held, was demolished in 1938 when Showalter was built, as a condition of state funding. Three other grade school buildings at the time were also to be demolished (Showalter was supposed to be the only grade school the district would ever need), but the Thorndyke, Tukwila and Riverton grade school buildings were saved as community clubs. The first two still exist. Tukwila is the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center, and Thorndyke, the oldest surviving school building in Tukwila having been built in 1908, is a private residence on 42nd Avenue South. The Riverton grade school survived for a few more years as a community club, but it was demolished to make way for Southgate Elementary School. Southgate, of course, became the Tukwila Community Center after the school closed due to declining enrollment in the 1970s, and the building was torn down when the current Tukwila Community Center opened. The Riverton/Southgate site is now Southgate Park.One other point: The building that stood just east of Foster High School, where the Tukwila swimming pool is now, was Arcadia Rest Home, a tuberculosis clinic and then a nursing home. Quite some time before that it was a private residence.
All of this history and a lot more can be found in the local history book “Tukwila, Community at the Crossroads,” which is available for sale at Tukwila City Hall and for checkout at the Foster Library, a branch of the King County Library System.