Horace Mann to get ‘extreme makeover’ thanks to city grant, volunteers

The 100-year-old Horace Mann building at 2410 East Cherry is preparing to begin a new life as home for an education pilot project for Seattle teens who have dropped out of school but want to get back on track. When starting new things, it’s always nice to fix yourself up a little. This weekend, a small Pacific Northwest army of volunteers will report for duty on East Cherry to lend their elbow grease to a $100,000 Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant awarded for cleaning up the mothballed school.

Details on the weekend’s work are below. We received this update on volunteer enthusiasm from organizers: “We have received an amazing outpouring of local volunteers sign ups, and as of tonight (11/15), nearly 60 volunteers from all around Seattle – and as far away as Portland, Ore. – are expected to participate.”


WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 20 & Sunday, Nov. 21, 10am – 5pm each day

WHERE: Horace Mann School Building, 2410 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122

What do you get when you combine a 100-year old school building, community volunteers and handyman, Chris Stevens?

We call it, “Extreme Makeover: Schoolhouse Edition” and you can call it the most rewarding weekend in Seattle.

On Nov. 20 and 21, the volunteer forces of local nonprofit, BEAN Seattle, with the community forces of the Central District, and helping transform the historic Horace Mann school building into a refuge for the vulnerable youth of Seattle.

Leased by Work It Out Seattle – a collaboration of Central District activists and education leaders – the Horace Mann building will soon be a grassroots alternative school, drawing in 16 – 21 year-olds from the CD and beyond, who have dropped out of high school and are hovering on the edge of poverty and homelessness.  

But before it can open its doors, this centurion schoolhouse needs a little TLC. Work It Out Seattle has already received a City of Seattle $100,000 Neighborhood Matching grant for the first year of the project, but its relying on community volunteers – like those of BEAN Seattle and its partner groups – to help fix up Horace Mann and successfully integrate the city’s at-risk youth back into society.

Under the guidance and direction of Stevens, a long-time BEAN Seattle member, the community volunteers will be stripping, sanding and refinishing the school’s vast hardwood floors. These floors show decades of wear and decay, but BEAN Seattle’s team of volunteers is dedicated to making them shine once more – all 11,000 square feet of them!

This project will be divided over Saturday and Sunday, with two shifts each day – 10am to 1pm, and 1pm to 5pm.

“Of all the service events BEAN does, this is probably the most hands-on and meaningful project we’ve had the opportunity to be a part of,” said Lisa Smith, BEAN Seattle’s VP of Service.  “When almost half of all minority youth in Seattle fail to graduate high school, this is our chance to make a difference the entire city will benefit from.”


0 thoughts on “Horace Mann to get ‘extreme makeover’ thanks to city grant, volunteers

  1. Good for this group for taking care of the building in a way that Seattle Schools never did. It’s a great old building and according to district records has a 100-year old boiler that still works well. Funny that it’s leased out because Garfield is overenrolled and they are now struggling to find space.

  2. I am so glad something is finally happening to that beautiful building. What a great location and it sounds like it will be a wonderful use for that school. The repair work is also a great chance for our community to pull together. This makes me very happy. :)

  3. I am wondering how many students will be in the building. Is the building fully utilized? I have to admit it makes me feel a little sad when I think of all the changes that Nova went through, supposedly due to the fact that the District didn’t think the building was fit for students and now it houses students.

  4. I wondered why Nova moved…the physical state of the building or the program’s size and program needs?

  5. Nova had been there since its inception, and was very happy in the space. It was entirely the Seattle School District’s administration’s plan. Not clear that the plan saved us any $$, given that Nova’s new home (Meany School, 20th & Republican) underwent extensive seismic upgrades as soon as Nova (and the Secondary Bilingual Education Program) moved in.

    Nova and Garfield students used to take classes at each others’ campuses (my daughter was one) – don’t know if they still manage that.

  6. I wish this didn’t make my stomach turn. Nova loved Mann, poor condition and all. It did not solicit a new home, certainly did not want to take the place of Meany and it’s students. Sigh. I am glad that the city (DoN) and volunteers are coming together in support of this project. Maybe SPS can learn something about partnering with the community for the benefit of all youth.

    Joanna- Nova was +/- 280 students @ capacity @ Mann.
    Liz- Andrew is correct, Nova’s move was district initiated.

  7. I’m wondering how many students are being served now.
    They can’t be public school students, right? If they were the District would be running the program, right?

  8. @Joanna~ click the link in the article, and here is what you’ll see:
    The mystery of the Mann school building lease is now officially solved. We got in touch with Jocquelyn Duncan, who explained that the People’s Family Life Center is starting a new program called “Work It Out”, which will provide educational resources and job training to young people who have dropped out of school. As we reported last week, People’s Family Life Center is a branch of the People’s Institutional Baptist Church, located in the 150 block of 24th Ave. … The program will serve ages 16-21, giving the students a chance to develop skills that can save them from poverty and homelessness.

  9. Since the Seattle School District has some programs for that demographic, I guess I was wondering if there is a partnership of some sort with some public support, or if this program is run totally through private funding. Typically there are only a few families within that demographic who can afford private tuition. The question just crossed my mind, as I gave more thought to exactly how the program worked and how the students are identified and supported.

  10. I am very glad to see that the building won’t sit empty for years or become private property like Queen Anne High did…but man it smarts to have the district tell Nova that the building is inadequate and unsuitable for students only to see that students will now be in the very building. Nova was an excellent school for so many over the years and I wish it still enjoyed its old block and nice building. I remember the rooms fondly and walking to Garfield for some classes, walking to the Daily Grind, the old Dilettante’s Factory store, Assimba Ethiopian Restaurant. I know that the teachers and students were pretty universally positive to the old building and that the new building brings the risk of closure or folding into another school’s principal. I hope the new students appreciate the building as much as I did.