Historic Gault Middle School added to Watch List

Due to concerns about a proposed demolition, the board of directors for Historic Tacoma has added Gault Middle School to its Watch List. It is now deemed to be "Threatened."
Aerial photograph of Gault Middle School

Aerial photograph of Gault Middle School

Though this historic school has suffered from several years of deferred basic maintenance, leading to leaky roofs, broken windows, vandalism, etc., such conditions could be addressed through thoughtful repairs, renovation and adaptive reuse. A more immediate threat however has arisen as the result of 1) a demolition permit application for the building being filed by Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) in November 2021, and 2) a recent announcement by TPS that it intends to proceed with the demolition process.

Per the City's demolition ordinance pertaining to such buildings, the permit application was reviewed by the City of Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission in April 2022. The Commission recommended that:

  1. the demolition permit be denied, and
  2. the building met the requirements for being listed on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places and that it should therefore be added to the Register. 

TPS subsequently chose to suspend its application and to work with a redevelopment partner. However given the recent announcement by TPS that the building is to instead be demolished, as well as the Commission's recognition of the architectural and community significance of this historic structure, and after considering a Watch List nomination of Gault submitted by a local group, Historic Tacoma's board of directors has concluded that it is now appropriate to add Gault to its Watch List and listing it as "Threatened." Additional background information and historic documentation concerning Gault is available at the Watch List HERE.

A local group called Save Eastside Tacoma's Historic Gault School has invited the public to a community meeting to organize, advocate and plan for the preservation and repurposing of this historic school. The meeting will be held at 1PM on Saturday, October 14th in the Moore Library community room at 215 South 56th St in Tacoma. The public is invited and encouraged to attend in order to learn more about efforts by community residents organizing to save the school, preserve Tacoma and Eastside history, and to improve the quality of life for Eastside residents. 

Take Action: In addition to the community meeting, members of the public who wish to support the preservation and repurposing of Gault School should contact:

  1. the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer, Reuben McKnight at 253-591-5220 or via email to rmcknigh@cityoftacoma.org,
  2. members of the City Landmarks Preservation Commission at landmarks@cityoftacoma.org,
  3. Tacoma Public School's Board of Directors at board@tacoma.k12.wa.us, and
  4. City Council members serving on the Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee -- Chair Kristina Walker, Vice-Chair Olgy Diaz, John Hines and Catherine Ushka. You can email them HERE

Historic Tacoma's Watch List is a local preservation priority list, similar to those that exist at the national and state levels. At the national level, America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places are listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. At the state level meanwhile, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has maintained a list of Most Endangered Places in Washington since 1992. 

NOTE: Historic Tacoma's Watch List evolves as conditions change. The list can include historic landscapes, commercial and residential properties, buildings with industrial character, buildings from the recent past, social and fraternal halls, and sacred places — all of which represent Tacoma’s past and its architectural legacy.