Early Key Peninsula schools

Colleen Slater ‘Huckleberry School’ in North Vaughn, the second Vaughn School No. 35. Courtesy photo by Judy Edmond

The earliest settlers on the Key Peninsula were single men. By the 1870s, families arrived and children needed schooling. Classes were first often held in a home or an already constructed building, but soon, one-room schoolhouses had been built in each community.

These simple structures, with a wood-burning stove, a slate or chalkboard, outdoor privy and hand-washing facility were the beginning of public education.

Lakebay School No. 17, near Palmer Lake, was built of logs before 1890 by the determination of Sarah Creviston. It became the first school registered on the peninsula. Creviston taught her own and a few neighbor children until a teacher was hired a few years later. By 1900, the children became too numerous for that school and moved to a new one, Whiteman Cove No. 118, near the intersection of Whiteman and Bay Roads.

Herron No. 100, begun as Blanchard in the 1890s, consolidated with Lakebay in 1908 to become Lakebay No. 311. A new school was built when Home joined Lakebay, and the old school became a residence. The newer building, Lakebay No. 315, is now the Key Peninsula Community Services, senior center and food bank.

Elgin No. 31, now a private residence in Minter, began as a school in Lucinda Minter’s home in 1884. A postmaster changed the name of the Minter post office to Elgin but later the original community name was returned.

No. 32 was assigned to the first Longbranch school in 1885. Longbranch No. 87, at the north end of Filucy Bay, was built in 1898. These two combined to become No. 328, across from the Curl family farm. The gymnasium constructed by Works Progress Administration in 1931 is all that remains, now the Longbranch Improvement Club. No. 87, purchased by the Wyatts, was turned 90 degrees and moved across the road to become a residence.

Vaughn No. 35, also built in 1885, another log structure, is still in existence as a private residence. Some students came by boat from Eckert Island. By 1898, 40 students crowded the single room, so a two-room school, called “Huckleberry School,”was built in North Vaughn, where more families had settled.

Rock Creek No. 48, the second Vaughn school built about 1886, above and west of Rocky Creek, was for children from Carney and Wye Lakes, Rocky Bay and Victor. South Vaughn No. 94 on Lackey Road, built by 1900, was attended by children from “Little Sweden”on Roberts Road.

All Vaughn schools consolidated when elementary school No. 321 was built near the high school in 1921. Students from Glencove and Elgin, attended Vaughn in 1941.

Purdy No. 36 and Wauna No. 69 combined teachers and students, meeting at each school for three to four months in order to keep them both open. The Springfield (later Wauna) school, in place by 1885, burned. Another, built a little higher on the same field, is now a private home.

The first Glencove No. 61 school, used from 1891 until 1912, was replaced by another higher on the hill. Students moved to Vaughn in 1941 and the school, remodeled into a home, still stands.

Home School No. 86 began in a tent, the home of George and Sylvia Allen, the day after their arrival, for children of the first three families settling the community. The first building of 1899 burned within two years. Classes were then held in Home Hall until a new school could be built on D Street. That building is now a residence.

Students wishing to continue their education beyond 8th grade rode a boat to Tacoma until 1903 when Vaughn Union High School No. 201 organized and held classes in the local Presbyterian Church. In 1906, the school was built, serving until 1947 when Vaughn and Gig Harbor joined to form Peninsula High School.

Anyone with additional information on these schools is encouraged to visit the Key Peninsula Historical Society museum or contact kphsmuseum@gmail.com or 888-3426.