Jason Lee, first known as West Intermediate School, was the first and biggest of the six intermediate schools built with proceeds from the $2.4 million bond issue approved in 1923. Built on the old campus of the College of Puget Sound at Sixth and Sprague Avenues, it was named after an early Northwest missionary.
Despite difficulties in staying below the projected costs and a change in architects a few months before the building's completion, classes opened in the new school on Sept. 8, 1924. Built at a cost of $480,000 to accommodate 1,200 students, more than 1,600 were enrolled by the end of the first year.
The official dedication on March 26, 1925, drew more than 1,500 people to tour the building and take part in the program planned by the Jason Lee PTA and the Sixth Avenue Businessmen's Club. Highlights of the evening included an address by Robert M. Davis on the life of Jason Lee and his place in Northwest history, and a tribute to George A. Stanley, the school's first principal.
Fifty years later in March when the school held a golden anniversary rededication program, Dr. Alexander Sergienko was District superintendent and Murray Morgan spoke on "Jason Lee in Northwest History."
From its opening, Jason Lee Middle School has given "marked attention" to the fine arts. Early school orchestras, bands and choruses won much acclaim for the school that continues today with band and orchestra. Drama and dance have been of special interest to many students through the years. Many productions have been staged in the school's spacious auditorium. The first stage equipment and floodlights were purchased with student body funds and proceeds of dramatic productions.
The 2001 "Coming Home" celebration highlights Jason Lee's 27 Million Dollar "make over." While the exterior of the school looks much the same from the street, there are major differences under the roof. Area residents wanted to retain the historical brick facade of Jason Lee which was built in 1924. However, the interior needed to be entirely remodeled to bring the building up to code and to provide for educational programs today. The restored auditorium has a two-story foyer in front of it as a focal point where people can congregate. The main office has been moved; and on the second floor is a new library/multimedia center.
Jason Lee's modernization process has given students an up-to-date and comfortable learning environment while bringing them into the 21st century.