Seattle: Blackboard Signed By Students In 1938 Was Found Behind The Wall Of Queen Anne School During Construction Works

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Demolition crews uncovered a chalkboard buried behind a wall at a Seattle school that gave a glimpse into the past.

The North Queen Anne School building was upgraded for earthquake safety earlier this year, and construction workers discovered a chalkboard with multiple signatures and the date Jan. 31, 1938, according to the school district’s information.

It was hypothesized by school administrators that the lists of names included:  Members of the faculty and staff are listed on the right, with students listed on the left.

In April, Seattle Public Schools uploaded a picture of the chalkboard on social media, and someone recognized the name of a former neighbor.

That individual got in touch with the neighbor’s family, and not long after that, the daughter of one of the persons who signed the blackboard — Ardelle Blunt — paid a visit to the person in charge of the project. In January 1938, Blunt was a student at the school and graduated from eighth grade.  Despite Blunt’s death, the chalkboard provided an opportunity for her 14-year-old daughter to reflect on her mother.

Ruthie Hanson, Reidun Gunderson, and Marguerite ‘Polly’ Angelis were all listed on the chalkboard. According to a narrative that was published on the website of the school system, the four young ladies had known each other since the second grade and would be attending Queen Anne High School together.

Their relationship lasted for the rest of their lives, and their families stayed close as well.

Gunderson’s son, Blunt’s daughter, and Hanson and her daughter, Sally, visited the school in June to have a look at the whiteboard. Her son took pictures of the chalkboard that Gunderson signed in 1938 since she was unable to attend due to illness.

In the meanwhile, attempts to preserve the chalkboard proved to be more challenging than first anticipated. To remove the blackboard, you would have to remove the paint off the wall, which would cause it to collapse.

Instead, school district administrators devised a strategy to display photographs in the renovated facility once it was finished.

However, the work to preserve the historical chalkboard was not finished beyond that point. To conserve a tiny portion of the blackboard, the project engineers, according to SPS, incorporated an opening within the strengthened wall. The 36-inch square will be used to display the names of the friends and classmates.