Brian Shute, Ph.D., CCC
Speech-Language Pathologist
P.O. Box 30621
Spokane, WA 99223

Franklin Photo/Exhibit Gallery: Obscure Photographs
Article By: Brian Shute, Ph.D., CCC

Franklin has many obscure and random points of interest and here is a place where some of them can be seen. Some of them are related to the mechanics of the place and others are just interesting or peculiar. Fasten your seatbelt.

Even before the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, Franklin School was up and going. Unlike the Titanic, however, the mechanical parts of the school are still working well. Naturally, they have been updated with time. Some of you, like me, will find this intriguing.

Door return Mechanism (Small).JPG

This door return mechanism is heavy duty and has worked for 98 years. Check out the hardware on this door and the patent date. Much of the school has similar antiques built into its structure.

Custodian Room (Small).JPG

This is the boiler and custodian's room. In the old days, it was reported that the custodian had a cot in here where he could stay at night. It was imperative that the school be warm on cold winter days.

Gabriel Boiler, Portland, Or (Small).JPG

This is the Gabriel boiler. Originally, it was coal fired but has been since converted to natural gas.

Boiler,once coal, now gas (Small).JPG

Here's another shot of the boiler that's been in use since 1909. It is massive and built to last. The heating system in the main building uses single pipe radiators. Here, both the heated steam and the condensed water flow back to the boiler through one, large diameter pipe. This is a precursor to the double pipe systems. In the newer part of the school (1953), the radiators are more modern and wall mounted. The heating system, to this day, provides cozy, old style heat on cold days.

Coal storage long ago (Small).JPG

In the old days coal was stored in this area and the area to the left. From the outside, a truck funneled coal through two man-hole covers and into storage areas/rooms. When coal burns it leaves a glassy byproduct called "clinkers." The lower playground was covered with clinkers once upon a time and many kids got banged up on the sharp edges.

Old Water Heater defunct (Small).JPG

Hot water used for the faucets was kept in this tank.

New Water Heater (Small).JPG

Technology has changed and what was once a massive tank, is now accomplished with this smaller, more efficient water heater. The old tank remains because it can! It was set in place before the school was completely built in 1909.

Fan Plenum (Small).JPG

On east and west sides of the original building, there are two fan rooms. They are identical and serve to provide the building with fresh air.

Plaque on fan blower. Sirocco (Small).JPG

The fan blower and plenum were built by the Sirocco American Blower Fan Company. Note the most current patent date.

Fan Motor (Small).JPG

Two electric motors spin the fans.

Heat Exchanger conditioned fresh air sys (Small).JPG

Incoming fresh air was conditioned with these massive heat exchangers and damper system. Steam heat or hot water ran through the exchangers thus warming the air before it was sucked through the plenum. The damper seen below was adjusted to control the flow of air past the exchangers.

Observation Port into plenum (Small).JPG

Each fan room has an observation window that looks into the plenum. It's hard to understand exactly why. Perhaps a peak here reveals the need for cleaning... or perhaps ice build-up if things were not working.

Old Style solenoid for heating sys (Small).JPG

Solenoids like this one controlled parts of the heating system. This one is mounted on the wall outside of the east fan room.


janitor room (Small).JPG

Here's the janitor's room in the basement.

Entrance to girls BR. Still green (Small).JPG

Believe it or not, the basement bathrooms are still green. When the new addition to the west was built in 1953, each classroom had two bathrooms.

Basement Hall. Once used for fall out drills, tumbling, ping pong (Small).JPG

Besides the location of the boy's and girl's bathrooms, the basement hallway was where bomb drills, air raid drills, fallout drills, tumbling, and Ping Pong games occurred. Alumni of yesteryear report having to curl up against the wall and protect their heads during drills. In the 1950s Ping Pong tables lined the hallway here. The game was hugely popular especially during rainy day recess. Actually, Ping Pong sounds like the most fun.

Original stalls Taken by Dianne LaBissoniere (Small).JPG

These bathroom stalls are pretty much unchanged from the early days. Special thanks to Dianne LaBissoniere for this photograph.

Weird bricked in windows (Small).JPG

These bricked-in windows are very odd. Perhaps they allowed for future lighting options... or perhaps the bricks were to be removed for another classroom or room. Perhaps if architect Loren Rand were around today, we could ask him! Or better yet, perhaps you know the reason and will tell us.


Franklin Bust2 (WinCE).JPG

This bust of Benjamin Franklin has been with the school from it's earliest days. At different times, it resided in the library and stairway landing. Many a student have touched his nose and have put their pencils in his nose. Despite all this, he still looks good.

Stairs to the second floor (Small).JPG

These stairs lead to the upper floor. Do you remember climbing these stairs? How many times do you think you did? Note the steel guards along the banister. After a stairway accident in the 50s or 60s, all schools in the district had the guards put into place. Sliding on banisters, especially the low ones from yesteryear, could result in a long drop to the basement below, or a splinter in a humiliating spot. And speaking of "rail or banister-sliding," the outdoor hand rail on the back steps has welded triangles to prevent the sport.


©, 2003-2014.