Browne Elementary School celebrates centennial
They are not expecting any students from those first classes when Browne Elementary School celebrates its 100th year on Friday, but they are hoping to draw a big crowd.
“The very first students here at Browne would be 105 or 106 years old today, but I guess you never know,” said Principal Lou Haymond. “We have quite a few kids who say ‘my grandmother went here’ and also many that are second generation Browne families. The parents grew up here, like the neighborhood, and they come back.”
The 100-year anniversary will feature a big open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, the 100th day of the school year. Throughout the year, students have studied life in 1910 to learn what it was like to live on North Driscoll Boulevard 100 years ago.
“There really wasn’t anything here other than the school, back then,” said LuAnne Naccarini, library media teacher at Browne and one of the people behind the celebration. “They say it was the last stop on the trolley line.”
Naccarini said the first school buildings were portables – temporary classrooms – and she hasn’t been able to find any pictures of those in the schools archives.
“It was called the Boulevard School at first. In 1914 they built a permanent building and in 1915 it became J.J. Browne Elementary School,” said Naccarini.
Browne is one of Spokane’s founding fathers – Browne’s Addition is named after him – and he was the first superintendent of Spokane Public Schools.
“In those early years there were maybe 60 kids at the school,” said Naccarini. “Today there is about 500 children here.”
The old Browne Elementary School was torn down and replaced by a new building in 2000. Naccarini and her colleagues Claudia Amsbury, Abie Cooper and Haymond have spent a lot of time searching through boxes full of old photos, clips, fliers and letters, and put together a display for the open house. Music teacher Tamara Schupman has put together the musical program.
Naccarini explained that third-graders have put together a timeline for the year 1910 – in the world, Washington and Spokane. Fourth-graders are singing “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” a hit from 1910.
“The students became very interested in what it was like to live in 1910,” said Naccarini. “People made maybe $700 a year. There were no phones, not everyone had electricity and entertainment was staying up after dinner and playing music or games.”
Haymond said the school may host a centennial run later this year, but for now they are focused on Friday’s celebration.
“We are very excited about this,” said Haymond. “We hope to see a lot of former students and friends.”