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Hartline, with its row of towering wheat elevators along the railroad tracks, owes its economic existence to the fertile wheatlands surrounding it. The townsite was part of the holdings of John Hartline. West of Hartline are evidences of a large lake that once flooded the area. According to geologists, this silty depression among the scablands, known locally as Dry Alkali Lake, is a part of the Hartline Basin. Glacial deposits of silt, sand, and gravel are several hundred feet deep. As US 2 continues across the ancient lake bed, the scablands appear again, and plant and animal life are limited. The scaly hackberry, rabbit and antelope brush, peppergrass, and occasional lupine harbor jack rabbits, sage hens, and rattlesnakes. In the summer tumbleweeds roll aimlessly down the highway.

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Hartline School

Like many rural brick schoolhouses, Hartline School was constructed with the purpose of consolidating smaller rural school districts in order to provide a higher level of academic opportunity for the students in central Grant County. Hartline School’s building is one of the oldest and best preserved rural brick schoolhouses in Grant County. Over the building’s 87-year history, it has not only provided a location for the education of thousands of children living in the central Columbia Basin, but also has been a place for social gatherings including dances, sporting events, community meetings, plays and movies. More specifically, Hartline School has served as a tangible demonstration of the determination and widespread belief in the value of public education that was prized by the citizens of the community of Hartline. Associated with the evolution of public education in Grant County and Washington State, Hartline School also reflects early twentieth-century construction practices advocated for statewide public schools, including fire-resistant building materials and preferred school design for classrooms. The school was developed following the devastating fire in 1919. After the fire, Grant County took the opportunity to focus on the construction of a larger, consolidated school where the former school once sat. As a result on April 17, 1920 Hartline School District 128 was formed. It was made up of five former districts including Hartline, Voorhees, Kirkland, Carolus, and Goldendale. The impressive two-story brick school designed in the Colonial Revival style by the Spokane architectural firm of Westcott & Gifford, would have stood out for miles on the open plain of the Hartland farming region. When it was completed in 1922 it cost $90,000. The new K-12 school had a seating capacity of 250 students and included a modern movie projection booth in its second-story auditorium. The school is one of the few known examples of the brief partnership of Frederick Westcott & Howard Gifford. Westcott, who cut his teeth working for notable architectural firm of Cutter & Malmgren and architect Albert Held, had no formal architectural training, But in 1918 started his own firm and formed a short-lived partnership with Spokane native Howard L. Gifford in 1921. Hartline School is an excellent example Westcott’s work and of his collaboration with Howard Gifford. Their only known other designs are alterations to the Ritz Theater (1924), and an annex for Hillyard High School (1922). While Westcott worked primarily in the Tudor Revival style, the Hartline School shows mastery of other period revival styles. To date, his only other work in the Colonial Revival style was the 1919 Whitehead’s Dancing Palace in Spokane. Both share symmetrical massing, classically inspired door and window surrounds, red brick exterior walls, and the use of round arched, multi-pane windows—all hallmarks of the Colonial Revival style. The interior retains character-defining features that include the original floor plan, lathe and plaster walls, fir floors, finished-fir woodwork, wall-mounted blackboards, main-floor classrooms with cloak closets, a kitchen, teacher’s room, indoor lavatories, and an incorporated gymnasium and auditorium.