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History of UPSD

History of UPSD

Over 120 Years Old and Counting

Since its inception in 1894, in fact, the University Place School District's history has been one of timely choices, wise leadership, and thoughtful planning which has provided, as George R. Curtis liked to proclaim, "the best schools in the country" for our children and for the community.

EARLY HISTORY 1894 - 1916

Lemon's Beach School built in 1896

Lemons Beach School, the first district schoolhouse,
built in 1896 at 27th St. and Elwood Drive
(picture circa 1930)

While the first boundaries of the new University Place School District #83 were not approved until November 2,1895, many consider the beginning of the district to be in 1894, when the first "school" for seven students operated in a rented, two-room house on the southwest corner of 27th Street and Crystal Springs Road. It was in the "University Arboretum" area, where Englishman John Abbott planted rare shrubs and trees he obtained from the University of Washington in the 1880's.

It was not until 1896 that the Lemon's Beach School pictured above was built, a one-room wood frame structure that served as the center of the community until 1916. In that year, the first University Place School, pictured below, opened just north of the Lemons Beach School site.

Lemon's Beach School Playground in 1916

The four-room brick University Place School opened in
1916. Today in this same spot at 27th Street and Grand-
view sits the University Place Primary School's
new playground.

For more on the early beginnings of School District #83 and its surrounding community, click here.

University Place School History 1916 - 1957

University Place School Sigh with Staff

The University Place School, built in 1916 and expanded over the years, served as the center of the University Place community until 1957, when Curtis Junior High opened.

For pictures and more on University Place School 1916 - 1957, click here.

UPSD District History 1957 - 1968

Aerial photo of Curtis Junior Hight School in 1957

Curtis Junior High School opened in 1957 on part of 23.5 acres the district puchased for a junior-senior high site, located at 40th St. and Steilacoom-Weston Road (now Grandview). Aerial photograph, above, taken by Ray Beard, first CJHS principal, looking northwest toward the Narrows Bridge.

For pictures and more on UPSD District History 1975 - 1968, click here.

UPSD History 1969 - Present

UP School Board in new Curtis High School

Curtis High School opens in 1969.

Above: The UP School Board tours New Phase III facility at Curtis High School (the 200 building).

Left to right: Architect Robert b. Price, Charles Curran, Merle Cheesman, L. Kenneth Orthund, O. Stanley Warp, Robert Perterson (Lidden), Architect Fred King, Arther Broback, Board President. Ray Beard has back to camera. Written description of the Phase III CHS construction: "There are two classrooms where sections may be opened to provide two large teaching stations. The resource center contains offices for teachers, two conference rooms, and a journalism room with dark room facilities."

Curtis High School

Curtis High School Building 100

Curtis High School Building 300

Junior High History

  • Aerial photo of Curtis Junior Hight School in 1968

    Curtis Junior-Senior High 1975

  • New Curtis Junior High 2009