In 1867, the K-8th grade North School was built in northwest Portland at 10th between Couch and Davis. The school’s name was changed in 1890 to honor George Atkinson, a Congregational minister who arrived in Oregon from the east coast in 1848. George Atkinson championed legislation to create public schools in Oregon. He also helped found Pacific University in Forest Grove. Towards the end of its time in northwest Portland, the school predominately served first generation Chinese and Japanese students.
By 1939 the northwest Portland Atkinson School was in a state of disrepair and was torn down in 1941. The current Atkinson School, dedicated in 1953, was designed by the newly merged firm of Pietro Belluschi and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Pietro Belluschi achieved international fame for the design of the Equitable Building in downtown Portland and consulted on the design of the Pan Am Building, the Julliard School of Music, and Alice Tully Hall in New York City.
Atkinson was originally created as a neighborhood K-8th grade school. Today Atkinson School serves K-5th grades. It offers a dual immersion Spanish language program as well as a program that serves the neighborhood. The Atkinson community celebrates its rich cultural diversity.