A boldfaced, three-lined headline (in the original version), published on page 21 in the Sept. 20, 1916 issue of the Tacoma Daily Ledger, publicized the big news happening in Steilacoom, WA—the state’s oldest incorporated community:
“Steilacoom’s $15,000 Modern School Plant”
Its architect was Emanuel Joseph (E.J.) Bresemann, a Tacoma resident. According to the article, “ E. J. Bresemann, the son of settler Gustav C. Bresemann, who designed and will superintend construction of the new building, was born in Spanaway (the article says Steilacoom) and started his classes in the old building.” (Bresemann, in fact, attended school in Spanaway).
Regardless of where he attended, E. J. received a “good public school education.
The original Steilacoom school building (built in 1892), pictured in historic photos was a two-story wooden structure with twin towers, that remained in place until it was dismantled, serving first as a covered play area, and later the site for the newer school’s multi-purpose room.
The “modern” building, which was to be built of tile and brick, included four classrooms and a vocational training area. It also included an auditorium (on the second floor) with a seating capacity for 300 people.
The school opened in December 1916 and served the community for almost a century, until growing enrollment and contemporary educational demands on schools prompted the Board of Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1 to begin planning for a larger facility.
At the end of May 2008, the former Steilacoom Grade School, that had been renamed Pioneer Middle School in 1962, was officially closed.
The “old” Pioneer Middle School is just one of many structures that Mr. Bresemann designed during the course of his almost half-a-century career around the Pacific Northwest from Tacoma and Seattle to Victoria, Vancouver and Nanaimo, B. C. It’s also one of two structures that Bresemann built in the Town on the Sound—Washington State’s first incorporated town. Bresemann designed 24 schools around the State, including the historic Robert Gray School.
In 2014 The Steilacoom Historical School District completed renovation of the 1916 building and moved its administrative offices into the building. The 2014 Fireworks Fundraiser T-Shirt featured the Steilacoom School. The lower main floor hallway of Steilacoom School features a display of historic photos of the school district, the first one established in Pierce County.
Note: More information about Mr. Bresemann can be found at HistoryLink.org, under “Advanced Search”Print This Post