Demolition crew discovers 1938 blackboard signed by students behind wall of Queen Anne school

SEATTLE — A demolition crew discovered a vintage blackboard hidden behind a wall at a Seattle school that provided a look into the past.

Earlier this year, construction workers upgrading the North Queen Anne School building for earthquake safety found the blackboard that had numerous signatures on it and included the date Jan. 31, 1938, according to the school district.

Because the lists of names were clearly grouped, school officials speculated that the

names on the left were students and the ones on the right were staff members.

Seattle Public Schools posted a photo of the blackboard on social media in April, and someone recognized the name of a former neighbor.

That person contacted the neighbor’s family, and soon the project manager was visited by the daughter of one of the people who signed the chalkboard — Ardelle Blunt. Blunt graduated from eighth grade at the school in January 1938.

Though Blunt is no longer alive, the blackboard gave her daughter a chance to reflect on her mother at age 14.

The names of Blunt’s best friends were also on the blackboard — Ruth “Ruthie” Hanson, Reidun Gunderson, and Marguerite “Polly” Angelis. The four girls had been friends since second grade and were moving up to Queen Anne High School together, a story posted by the school district said.

The friendship continued throughout their lives and their families remained close.

Hanson and her daughter, Sally, as well as Gunderson’s son and Blunt’s daughter, visited the school in June to get a look at the blackboard. Gunderson had also planned to go but was not feeling well, so her son took photos of the blackboard that she signed in 1938.

Meanwhile, efforts to preserve the blackboard turned out to be more difficult than expected. The blackboard was actually a type of paint applied directly to the wall, and trying to remove it would cause it to crumble.

School district officials instead made plans for photos that could be installed in the updated building once it was complete.

But the effort to preserve the historical blackboard did not end there. SPS said project engineers found a way to preserve a small part of the chalkboard by building a window into the newly reinforced wall.

The 36-inch square will frame the names of the friends and their classmates.