Downtown, Education, Puyallup

Central School in Puyallup (History)

Central School class photo in Puyallup

Students at Central School in Puyallup posed for this photo in about 1888. Today’s public school enrollment in grades from kindergarten through high school tops 22,250.

Fort Maloney served as our city’s first school at what is now Grayland Park. No longer able to accommodate a growing student population, in a building not originally intended to house a school, townspeople decided it was time for a new school to be built. It would be located where the present day Karshner Museum is located. Although larger than the room they shared in the Fort, accommodations were sparse. Logs served as chairs, students had no desks, and with no ceiling, the precious warmth remained high in the rafters. To help remedy this situation, and interesting proposal came about. One of the townspeople owned a flag that had once proudly flown over Fort Steilacoom. The flag was huge, large enough to easily cover the open rafters in the schoolhouse. So large, in fact, that it had to be partially folded to fit in the accommodating space. This school, dubbed the “Green School” because it was entirely coated in green paint, served the city from 1873 until 1886.

However, by 1884, it was apparent that the Green School was becoming to small to serve the growing community. Even with many additions, such as desks and large windows, the building was becoming increasingly inadequate. A new school was proposed, but taxpayers rejected the idea of building the planned $10,000 school. By 1885, a new plan was proposed, cutting the costs to $3,000. With a winning bid of $3,035, construction finally began. By summer 1886, the three-story school was nearly complete. All that was left was to place a 475lb. school bell at the top of the beautiful new building. When classes began in October 1886 enrollment stood at 140 students.

What happened to Central School? Unfortunately, in 1928 the building was destroyed by fire… But, the foundation of the original Central School was not destroyed. It was built upon and used as the original Stewart Elementary, and today that building serves as the Karshner Museum.

Old Central School Puyallup Washington

Puyallup's Central School old class photo

Downtown, Education, Puyallup

Warner Melvin Karshner Biography (Karshner Museum)

Dr. Warner Karshner Puyallup

Warner Melvin Karshner was born in December of 1874 on his father’s farm in Ohio. After a brief move with his family to Kansas, his restless father was unhappy with the weather of the Midwest and very quickly decided to move to the new territory of the Pacific Northwest. Soon after arriving in the Puyallup Valley, Warner’s father purchased a 3-acre farm in the N.W. corner of Puyallup. Warner quickly embraced his new town, loving his surroundings and the opportunities for work in the Valley. Picking berries and hops for area farmers was one of his first jobs, but he also was a janitor at the Central School, and was a sexton of the First Methodist Church where he rang the bell for services and stoked the furnace. But despite these opportunities, Warmer’s father wanted nothing more to do with civilization. He sold their farm to John R. Rogers (future governor of Washington and namesake of Rogers High School). The family moved to the Olympic Peninsula where the family filed a new homestead claim.

Despite his fathers desire to live a life on a farm without influences of civilization, his parents truly valued education and had a great desire for the best education for their children. So strong was this belief, it was decided that Warner, his 3 brothers, one sister, and his mother would move to Olympia where they could attend school during the winter. In the summer, all were needed on the farm, but this sacrifice was made during the winter where education could be the focus of family concern – and pride. Warner graduated from High School, then enrolled at the University of Washington. To save money, he and a friend lived in a shack they built on the university campus. During the summer months, he worked on a fishing boat to earn the money to pay his tuition. Incredibly, to save money, he would walk from Gray’s Harbor (where he fished) to Seattle each fall. In the Spring, he would then walk back to Gray’s Harbor.

After graduation in 1898, he returned to the Puyallup Valley to teach school. He primarily taught at Maplewood Elementary, although substituting at all Puyallup schools.

Karshner’s goal was not to be a teacher, however. He was saving his money to attend medical school. After saving enough for a years tuition, he enrolled in the Northwestern University Medical School near Chicago. there, during his last year of studies, he met Ella Hibbert and soon after, asked her to be his wife. After graduation, he returned to Puyallup to establish a medical practice and built a home on 4th St. S.W. and West Pioneer. With that done, he married his Ella on March 4, 1905. A few years later, their only child was born. Paul Hibbert Karshner became the centerpiece of his parents lives.

Dr. Karshner’s contributions to our city live on today in many ways, the most obvious being that of the Karshner Museum, and in the many lives he brought into the world with the over 2,000 babies he delivered in our community. For 25 years, Dr. Karshner had taken care of most all the health needs of Puyallup’s citizens, lovingly assisted by his wife Ella Hibbert Karshner, whom he married on May 14, 1905.

The early years of his practice were difficult. There were no health care facilities in the Valley, and few modern conveniences such as electricity, running water, and with only the basic medical equipment. Soon after he was appointed as Puyallup’s health officer in 1909, conditions quickly worsened as a case of Bubonic plague was discovered in Puyallup. U.S. Public Health officers visited Puyallup, ordering Dr. Karshner to clean up the city. This was a time in Puyallup’s history were many downtown buildings were in shambles from neglect and abandonment, where there was no sewer lines and no garbage removal systems in place. With Dr. Karshner’s insistence, several buildings were condemned and burned, and the City of Puyallup put in a sewer system and forced city residents to hook up to the sewer. With Dr. Karshner’s efforts, Puyallup became much cleaner, sanitary, and “modern” as a city. As a result, the plague was stopped. Incidences of typhoid fever also nearly vanished, a problem once prevalent in the growing city of Puyallup.

Even without modern facilities and patients lack of transportation, Dr. Karshner found ways to treat all his patients. This often included house visits, occasionally performing surgery on a patients kitchen table if needed. But always close to his heart was education. Before becoming a doctor in our city, he served for many years as a teacher in Puyallup before entering medical school. He also served for many years on the Puyallup School Board, and was elected to the Washington State legislature where he chaired the Education Committees.

In 1917, the same year he was elected to the State Senate, he entered the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving as chief physician and surgeon of a military hospital in Georgia. He returned to Puyallup in 1919.

It was in 1924 that their only son, Hibbert Karshner, died of a polio epidemic in September of 1924. Paul was only 17 years of age, just beginning his senior year at Puyallup High School. In memory of their son, they established the Karshner Museum. The Karshner’s also established two scholarships at Puyallup High School in his memory. They continue to be awarded even today.

Shortly after his son’s death, Dr. Karshner decided to give up his practice in Puyallup and return to the University of Washington to seek another degree. He did in fact complete a Pathology Degree at Harvard University, returning to the UW to teach pathology the UW medical school.

Education, Entertainment, Puyallup

Places To Visit Today in Puyallup

Places to visit in Puyallup

The weather today in Puyallup is amazing and that means you need to get out of the house and have some fun. If you’re new to Puyallup or just moved here – then give these main places to visit a try. It’s a short list but covers all the big places you must see and what better time then now to go see them!

Puyallup Fair
People come from all over to see the semi-annual Puyallup Fair! It was voted to be one of the Top 10 fairs in the entire U.S.! Find out more about the fair at TheFair.com!

Recently the Puyallup Fair changed its name to the Washington State Fair. The change was due to branding and to draw bigger events and crowds to the area.

Puyallup Library
Read more about the new Puyallup Library! The library offers a variety of classes and programs. The Library is fully updated and remodeled. They have rooms available for special events and/or can be reserved. From books, dvds, fast computers you can find almost everything at the Puyallup Library downtown.

Meeker Mansion
Meeker Mansion is a historical site and former home of Puyallup’s founder, Ezra Meeker. He was the first mayor and the one who named the town Puyallup, meaning “generous people”. Find out more about the mansion at the website MeekerMansion.org.

Karshner Museum
A fun place for kids to learn about history and other cultures. Everything from dinosaur fossils to Indian tipis are on display. Programs for children are also offered. Go there! I remember visiting as a child and smelling the big elephant foot. The Karshner Museum is a popular student destination.

Mount Rainier National Park
This enormous 200,000+ acre park is ideal for climbing, skiing, camping, or just photographing the beautiful wildlife! Find out more by visiting the Mount Rainier Park website. One of the great things about living in Puyallup is that if you want to visit the snow it’s not too far away.