Sellwood Middle School is located in Sellwood, a historic area of Southeast Portland. Sellwood history is linked to that of Portland and Oregon.
Throughout the 1840s and 1850s thousands of settlers were attracted to this Oregon territory. Episcopal Bishop Scott petitioned for missionaries to this new landscape, and two brothers, Rev. John and Rev. James R.W. Sellwood responded. John was injured in Panama en route and received $10,000 in damages, which he used to purchase 320 acres from the Luelling Claim. In 1882, his land was sold to a real estate company and with development, the suburb called Sellwood brought in workers for lumber and woolen mills and the streetcar line.
Incorporated first as a city in 1887, and with its increasing growth, Sellwood was annexed into the city of Portland in 1893. That same year construction began on a wooden, five-room schoolhouse facing Umatilla Street. Opening its doors in 1894, the school used only the lower level with three rooms. In about 1903 the schoolhouse expanded into eight rooms, including using its upstairs level, and added indoor plumbing.
The present concrete building was built in 1914 for primary students. Classes for intermediate and upper-grade students remained in the old original wooden structure until it was torn down in 1926, when the addition to the concrete building was completed. In 1975 the Sellwood School became Sellwood Middle School for sixth through eighth-grade students.