By Nancy Covert
The Town of Steilacoom, known as a “Place of Firsts” has a distinctive collection of historic structures.
While names of early designers/builders of many of Steilacoom’s historic structures are lost in the mists of time, some are known—such as Nathaniel Orr, who built his home and wagon shop in 1857, or Albert Whyte who built a four-house development around 1895 on Starling Street.
The designer of two important civic structures: Steilacoom Town Hall and Steilacoom School (also known as “Old” Pioneer School) was Emanuel Joseph Bresemann.
Steilacoom School designed and built in 1916 for $15,000 was the first of 24 schools he designed in Western Washington. Other schools he designed are located in Mineral, Morton, Tacoma, and Carbonado.
A boldfaced, three-lined headline was published on page 21 in the Sept. 20, 1916 issue of the Tacoma Daily Ledger, told about the big news in Steilacoom, WA—the state’s oldest incorporated community:
- “Steilacoom’s $15,000 Modern School Plant”
Besides homes, commercial operations, (such as a pickling operation for Nalley and an auto dealership showroom) churches and restaurants (Knapp’s in the Proctor District), Bresemann also designed Xavier Hall at Pacific Lutheran University.
Fourteen years after completing Steilacoom School, Bresemann was hired to design the Town of Steilacoom’s Town Hall that was dedicated in 1930.
For more information about Bresemann, visit the free Washington History Links Website at www.historylink.org (advanced search site).
Better still, visit his Steilacoom buildings.