Saving Lincoln

The gym was added in the 1960s, but cannot be used as a home court because it has no room for fans. The stage area is used for a music class.

The gym was added in the 1960s, but cannot be used as a home court because it has no room for fans. The stage area is used for a music class.


WALLA WALLA — Built in 1927, Paine Elementary School, also known as Lincoln High School, was a good representation of schools of the era.

The brick work and fenestration (design and placement of windows and doors) contain appealing elements of neoclassical architecture, according to a 2013 Lincoln Alternative High School

Report that studied the feasibility of keeping the structure.

“It is a historic structure over 50 years old,” Historic Preservation Committee Chair Barry Gould said, adding that age is only a starting point when it comes to determining which structures need to be saved. “It has some wonderful architectural details to the building both inside and outside.”

Inside, the school was built with tongue and groove wood flooring, large hardwood baseboards and ceilings of approximately 15 feet throughout. But probably the most popular element of the architecture for students and teachers are the enormous windows that offer spectacular views of the Walla Walla Valley.

But Paine Elementary was never meant to be a high school.

Even as an elementary school, the building lacked adequate indoor space to play and eat, so a dual purpose gym and cafeteria building was added in 1963. And that structure is still to small for either purpose.

Other challenges of keeping the structure as a high school include all the unusual closets and odd recessed areas that don’t serve much purpose today except to providing hiding spots for students.

Then there is the issue of what it will cost to renovate and retrofit the school so that it can accommodate up to 200 students.

In some cases, historical buildings can be renovated at 85 percent the costs of what it would take to build new. But Paine Elementary School was probably built with unreinforced concrete. And reinforcing it would drastically drive up the costs, as would trying to bring the building up to code to provide access for the disable and replace old wiring, plumbing and heating systems. But it wouldn’t be the first local building designed by architect Henry Osterman to be renovated and retrofitted.

“There is the fact that it was designed by a renowned architect who did several of Walla Walla’s historic buildings,” Gould said.

Osterman designed the Carnegie Library, the Walla Walla Armory, the County Courthouse, the Liberty Theater and even some schools.

Greenpark and Sharpstein elementary schools were renovated and retrofitted.

Prospect Point Elementary and the old Walla Walla High schools were not.

Earlier this year, all seven members of the Walla Walla Historic Preservation Committee voted unanimously that the original Paine Elementary School or current Lincoln High School should be saved and placed on a national historic registry.

Gould added that even if the district decides to go with demolishing, it may still be the voters who make the final decision.

“We wanted to vote on that before this thing comes around to a bond. And when a bond is requested and passed it would be too late to oppose it,” Gould said.


barracuda 1 year, 8 months ago

I am seeing a additional bond coming soon..................


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