Education

Annie Wright looks at Tacoma Weyerhaeuser mansion for boys’ high school

Annie Wright Schools has its eye on Tacoma’s historic Weyerhaeuser mansion as it considers opening a boys high school.

Head of Schools Christian Sullivan says the idea has been floated, but it’s still in the very early stage. He said the mansion at 4301 N. Stevens St. is one possibility that’s been discussed, but that if Annie Wright moves forward with a boys high school, other Tacoma properties could be considered as well.

“We are very far from any agreement,” he said.

Corban University, a Salem, Ore.-based Christian college, owns the mansion property. Corban vice president for business Kevin Brubaker said Blue Ribbon Cooking, the current tenant, has had a purchase-and-sale agreement on the property for several years. But he said Corban would pursue backup offers, if they come.

The cooking school is in the midst of a long-running dispute with neighbors over noise and other concerns.

The list price on the mansion, built by timber baron John Weyerhaeuser in 1923, is $5.4 million, Brubaker said. The Weyerhaeuser family lived in the home from 1923 through 1936. Since then, the mansion has be used as a convent, university housing and a theological seminary.

Sullivan said Annie Wright is in the preliminary stages of discussions over opening a boys high school to complement its current girls ninth-through-12th-grade program.

Annie Wright, a private school founded in 1884, is located on North Tacoma Avenue, about three miles from the Weyerhaeuser mansion. It offers classes for boys and girls in preschool through grade eight. Its high school is for girls only, and includes a day school and boarding program. The high school enrolls about 190 girls.

Sullivan said that if a boys high school were launched, the goal would be to enroll 150 to 160 students.

He said the impetus for considering the all-boys program came from parents of younger Annie Wright students.

“Now, we have to say good-bye to our boys,” he said. Annie Wright boys who graduate from eighth grade move on to either public or private high schools.

The addition of a boys high school would allow families with children in several different grades to keep their children at the same school.

“It could also be a tremendous benefit to our all-girls program to have a brother school,” Sullivan said.

He said Annie Wright is committed to retaining single-gender education for its high school program. He said the school is also interested in offering a boarding option for boys.

Annie Wright draws boarding students from around the Northwest, as well as internationally.

“We think there is a market,” Sullivan said.

Blue Ribbon Cooking has been in a battle with neighbors over its use of the Weyerhaeuser property for weddings and other events. Neighbors say the events, which often include the serving of alcohol, create parking problems, noise and other issues that are incompatible with their residential area.

Several of the mansion’s neighbors have filed an appeal in Pierce County Superior Court over a city hearing examiner’s February decision that granted a conditional use permit for events at the mansion.

That court appeal is scheduled to be heard Sept. 3.

Blue Ribbon did not respond to a request to comment for this story.

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