Anderson’s Principal Who Wasn’t

Hello from the History Department.

First, some news – we’re excited to announce the addition of another History Pub to our repertoire. Beginning January 29, 2020 (and continuing every last Wednesday of the month), the Compass Room at the Grand Lodge will be the latest venue to host one of our free, monthly history programs. That brings the tally up to 12 per month – 10 History Pubs, 1 Race Talks and 1 Paranormal Pub. And if anyone asks (they always do), yes, all of these events are eligible for the History Pub experience stamp in your passport.

Now, read about Ken Eickhoff, who was a principal at Anderson School, yet not Anderson’s principal.


The Anderson School, built in Bothell, WA, in 1931, has served the community in many ways over its life – from district junior high to alternative-learning Secondary Academy for Success and eventually to its current incarnation as a McMenamins historic property. Stories and subplots continue to emerge as former students, staff and hotel guests bring up the past, revealing interesting layers to this lovely building and campus. Such is the case with Kenneth Eickhoff’s tenure at Anderson.

In 1969, Eickhoff was hired as principal of the yet-to-exist Leota Junior High School. It was to be built near Bothell, in the neighboring city of Woodinville, within the Northshore School District. Then, a series of setbacks jeopardized the project. During this tumultuous time, Eickhoff was the calm within the storm, bringing reassurance and normalcy to his nearly 800 students and their less-than-pleased parents. Awaiting completion of the new $2.3 million school, Leota students attended classes here at Anderson School, Bothell’s nearly retired, largely outdated junior high.

Ken Eickhoff was from a family of teachers, and he knew that was his calling, too. In the mid-1950s, he and his wife Francis, a music teacher, came to work in the Northshore School District and soon were even busier with five children of their own. By the late 1960s, the Northshore School District was booming as the area became increasingly more popular as a bedroom community for Seattle. The population of school-age children was vastly outgrowing the capacity of area schools, thus creating the need for new facilities such as Leota Junior High (named for nearby Leota Lake).

In May 1969, an alarming report came out stating that funds for all new school building projects had been exhausted; consequently, construction halted on the proposed schools and the community erupted in unrest. Leota quickly became known as the “phantom junior high.” As 1969 turned into 1970, and 1970 dragged into 1971, delays persisted, brought on by a push-back from the state and a labor strike. Throughout it all, Leota students were forced to remain at Anderson School. The local newspaper reassured the community that “Leota Junior High does exist.” And at a fundraiser led by Principal Eickhoff for the new school, Leota students sold buttons that read: I’VE SEEN LEOTA JUNIOR HIGH.

The Leota school was finally completed and opened in February 1972. In that moment, Principal Eickhoff didn’t forget the service of the old host school, pronouncing to the Northshore Citizen: “Anderson’s physical attractiveness may not compare to some of the schools in the district, but the quality of faculty and facilities is very good.”

Principal Ken Eickhoff made the best of a difficult transition, leading his students and their parents, faculty and staff through a drawn-out, frustrating situation. All the while, he kept foremost in his mind the continued quality of his students’ education, at the aging Anderson School and eventually at the state-of-art Leota Junior High.

Leave a Comment