UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Tacoma Waldorf School posted this update on Facebook:
"We at the Waldorf School would like to express our sincere apologies for announcing that we would be at the Weyerhaeuser Estate Education building for the 2017/2018 school year. We are very excited about the possibility, and while that is the end goal, we do not have an agreement in place currently, nor is it possible to have one in place at this time. Thank you."
A small private school has announced plans to move into a portion of the old Weyerhaeuser property in North Tacoma.
The Tacoma Waldorf School, which enrolls 54 preschool through fourth-grade students, broke the news to families at a school auction Friday. The information was posted Monday on Facebook and on the school’s website.
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The Waldorf School won’t be located in the historic mansion at 4301 N. Stevens St., which has been for sale by Oregon-based owners Corban University since 2010.
Rather, it plans to use what’s known as the Education Building, a separate brick classroom building that was used as a seminary when the property was owned by Northwest Baptist Seminary. Northwest Baptist and Corban merged in 2010, and Corban then announced plans to sell the nearly 7-acre Weyerhaeuser property, which includes the mansion and classroom building, as well as other structures.
Waldorf admissions coordinator Chantal Hulet said the school plans to lease the classroom building from new owners, whom she declined to identify.
In January, the property was listed for sale for $5.5 million, according to real estate website Redfin. A sale has been pending since late February, according to the real estate site. Corban University, which owns the property, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Hulet said the school, currently at a church property in the Proctor District, has been searching for a new home.
Tacoma Waldorf School is growing, and plans to add fifth grade in the fall
“Our school is growing in numbers,” Hulet said.
She said Waldorf plans to add fifth grade in the fall, when it hopes to be in its new home. The school website said Waldorf plans to host a summer program on the campus in late June.
Hulet said school officials have met with staff in the city Planning Department to discuss needed permits. City planner Charla Kinlow said upgrades could be required as part of the permitting process.
The mansion, also known as Haddaway Hall, was built as the residence of timber baron John P. Weyerhaeuser in 1923. It later became a Catholic convent, then, in 1975, a Baptist seminary. The mansion, with nearly 50 rooms, is listed on the city’s register of historic places, as well as the national register.
For a time after Corban listed the property for sale, it allowed a catering company to use the mansion for weddings and other events. Homeowners in the largely residential neighborhood complained, saying the events — which often included alcohol — created parking, noise and other problems. They took their cause to court, and a judge agreed with them, ordering a conditional use permit for the catering events to be denied.
Now, the Waldorf School is looking forward to having room to grow in the property’s 16,000-square-foot education building, which includes a commercial kitchen.
The school emphasizes creativity, the arts and exploration of the natural world. Hulet said Waldorf kids spend time outside in nature every day “no matter the weather.”
She said part of the appeal of the Weyerhaeuser location is that it will give students space to develop a reverence and respect for the natural world.
News Tribune reporters Kate Martin and John Gillie contributed to this report.