Back to School

It’s back to school for many college students across Washington State this week, so in honor of it, here’s a 1960s postcard of Green River Community College!

A view of the present-day Rutkowski Learning Center (RLC) from the west parking lot.

Green River Community College, located in Auburn, WA, welcomed it’s first 750 students on September 20, 1965. Then, the college was composed of only one building, with additional buildings planned to be built in phases. The Library-Learning Center (presently the Rutkowski Learning Center) was the first building on campus, and housed all of the campus’ classrooms and offices, as well as services such as the library and cafeteria. Due to limited space, some classes during the 1965-1966 school year were held nearby in Lea Hill Elementary.

The campus’ original buildings were designed by Sullam & Aehle Architects of Seattle, and were planned with nature in mind. Careful measurements were taken before any trees were cut down, and the humanities and business-industrial complex was built several feet from it’s intended location to preserve an old-growth cedar. Local materials were used wherever possible, including the Green River pea-gravel used in the buildings’ foundations and pebble-dash aggregate walls.

In 1966, the humanities (HS), social sciences (SS), and science technologies (ST) complexes were completed, making room for about 1,500 students. By the fall of 1967, the school had a gym, field house, and performing arts center, and by the early 1970s, a student union building, administration building, and several more classrooms and lecture halls had been completed.

Green River Community College is situated on 240 acres of beautiful, preserved woodland atop Lea Hill, three miles east of Auburn, Washington. The college officially opened September 1965 and was established to offer a comprehensive instructional program to provide educational opportunities for every individual who desires and can profit by further study.

Green River is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, and very little remains of the original campus. The HS-SS complex that made up most of phase 1 of construction was demolished in early 2014 to make way for a new Student Life, or student union, building. The original science and technology complexes have been demolished and replaced with new buildings. The RLC now houses primarily classrooms, but is also the site of the writing center.

In order to reflect the inclusion of select four-year programs at the school and also in honor of the 50th anniversary, Green River Community College officially became Green River College in 2015.

Efforts are currently being made to digitize the school’s entire collection of student newspapers, from 1965 to the present. For further reading and fun facts, the newspapers can be viewed here.


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