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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Central Public School

First School to be built by organized District #1 (Wyandotte City)

Central Public School - Built 1868 in Huron PlaceOne of the 9 original schools when Wyandotte, Kansas City and Armourdale were separate cities; consolidated on March 6, 1886 within the Consolidation Act of 1886.

The picture at the left was taken from William Cutler's, History of the State of Kansas, 1883.

 

 

Built: 1868; nine-room brick building

Building Razed:  July, 1902 - make room for Carnegie Library

Note:  In the picture on your left, there is a entry area that looks a bit confusing.  However, inside the door are two children sitting on a bench.  It appears that this may have been a covered area for children or someone to sit within.  Perhaps a covering when someone is waiting in bad weather?

(Note:  There can be a lot of confusion on the information for Central Public School, Central High School, Central School, Kansas City High School, Wyandotte High School, Central Elementary School - with different names being used by different persons at different times.  It is important to read the information on all the buildings to sort out the history.)

Education has always been a major concern of the patrons in Wyandotte County. The first school was built by the Wyandots and opened on July 1, 1844; with three schools in operation under their direction by 1858. However, with the coming of the Civil War, education took a back seat for a time.

"School meeting District No. 1. - At a meeting of the citizens of school district No. 1 in Wyandotte County Kansas, held in pursuance of a call made by the County Superintendent of Public instruction at the Court House, the following persons were duly elected for the ensuing year to wit: Byron Judd, Treasurer; Fred Speck, Director; Chas. S. Glick, Clerk. Said meeting adjourned to meet at the Post Office, Wyandotte, on Wednesday evening Dec. 30, 1861, then and there to consider the propriety of levying a special school tax of 21.2 mills on the dollar, for the purpose of defraying the expense of a public school in said district during the present winter. Byron Judd, Chairman; Chas. S. Glick, Secretary."  (Commercial Gazette, 28 December 1861.) There is an article in the Commercial Gazette on 4 January 1962, pg. 2, related to the mill levy. But it was again postponed and no other article was found in relation to it at a later date.

In 1867, school District Number 1 (organized prior to 30 Dec 1861 according to the Commercial Gazette of 28 Dec 1861), Wyandott, planned a school in Huron Place (Huron Square). It was the first school building to be built by organized School District #1.  (The next schools would be Everett School at 4th and Everett and a new Lincoln School at 6th and State, turning the old "Cincinnati frame" over to African Americans.)  The City gave the Board permission to build on the land designated for seminary purposes by old Wyandotte Town Company. "Part bounded by Sixth Street, north and south by church lots, west to the boundary." Sixty-five feet were added to the whole length of the first grant.

The probable date of occupation for the first Central School is 1868. Henry J. Alden was the first Principal of the nine-room brick building (two stories and a basement), steam heated, with seating capacity of 542, located on twenty-foot hill on a 60x65 foot plot. The contractor was Isaac Shoemaker.

In 1868, not everyone was pleased with the new school. Its architectural plan offended some eyes. Perched on a high hill, the school had "all the beauty of a hennery," declared one critic. It was too far from the center of town and difficult for children to reach, said others. At that time a large ravine split Minnesota Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. When the ravine was partly filled a year or two later, the contractors used the plentiful yellow clay of the district for fillings. In rainy weather the mud made the street almost impassable, and children arrived in the morning, shoes lost in the mire and clothing bedraggled. Vincent J. Lane (early Wyandotte newspaper publisher and founder of the Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum) told of having to carry a young daughter on his back to school during rainy season. The city council finally ordered the street commissioner to lay two planks lengthwise for a sidewalk on the north side of Minnesota. As the planks were just one foot wide and nailed one foot apart on a two-by-four studding, only a skilled walker could cover the distance safely. At times when the clay was soaked after a hard rain, the planks would slide. Then the youngsters might roll down the muddy bank and land in an unfilled portion of the ravine twenty or thirty feet below.

(Officers, Wyandott Gazette, 17 July 1873 - Ralph Van Brunt, President; John D. Cruise Treasurer; Wm. Albright, Clerk; Joseph Speck, E. Moyel, W. B. Garlick, G. W. Bishop, C. Hoppen and V. J. Lane, members of the Board.)

In 1882, the schoolhouse was the only building of importance beyond Fifth Street, even though the City Council was having Minnesota paved to Sixth.  (Historic Geographic Areas, Settlements, Communities, Villages and Hamlets of Early Wyandotte County, Pg. 278)

The 1885 Sanborne Insurance Map and the 1887 GM Hopkins Survey map show the name as Central Public School in Huron Place.

In 1893, an annex on 7th Street near Tauromee in Bishop's Block was proposed. Architect W. W. Rose drew plans for an addition. He said the building was strong and durable. The first public High School had been established (1886) at Riverview School, but now the High School was in need of two of the rooms at Central; however two rooms were rented in Northrup Flat on Minnesota between 7th and 8th. In 1895, a room for an annex was rented in Gamble Block, 7th and Tauromee, northeast corner. In August, the Reverend J. R. Richardson requested that the Central School bell be rung on September 1 at 3:00 p.m. to announce the dedication of the Baptist Church at Fifth and Nebraska.

The school was too crowded in 1897 for primary teachers to do work; substitutes were sent to help. Until the schools obtained financial relief, shifts were made in classes. The 8A class at Reynolds and Armstrong moved to Riverview. Morse's 8B transferred to Armourdale School, and the 5B at McAlpine went to Riverview and Central. A committee was sent to Topeka was assured of legislative help with money problems. The board first appealed for a $75,000 bond election, but later reduced the sum to $60,000.

In 1899, the high school building (old Palmer Academy aka Wyandotte Academy in 1882) at 7th and Ann was vacated with high school attendance to be at the new high school building at 9th and Minnesota Avenue (Kansas City Kansas High School) and the Mercantile Club (forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce) asked that the old Central be removed from the Huron Place. In January of 1900, the Board wanted to improve Central School, but the city was granted an injunction against the Board stopping improvement. The stone wall on Minnesota Avenue at Huron Place was bulging and in danger of falling. The rains had washed the earth from the hill on which Central stood, and the wall was unable to support the weight. Warning signs were needed. 

Central School was still operating in 1901, with two principals: One at the old building in Huron Place (C. W. Porter), the other at 7th and Ann (J. D. Orr). (The Board had leased the old Palmer Academy, which they were to later purchase.)

Plans were underway in January of 1902 to sell the building in Huron Place . Builders were to deliver to the Board of Education offices at the high school building their offers for the building. By May, all of the old building was to be sold except for the furniture, clothes hooks, and boys' outhouse. Everything was to be removed thirty days after close of school. On June 10th, Blue and Williams purchased the building for $250. They sold it to a Mr. White, who tore it down and hauled it away. Building Razed: July, 1902 - make room for Carnegie Library

The name Central was transferred to the Seventh and Ann building (formerly the Palmer Academy). 

PRINCIPALS

1867-68 - Henry Alden, also superintendent / 1868-70 - O. C. Palmer, also superintendent / 1869-75 - O. C. Palmer / 1875-76 - M. Waters / 1876-84 - Porter Sherman / 1884-85 - Porter Sherman, also superintendent. Resigned 1885 / 1885 - W. S. Beard / 1886-87 - J C Mason / 1888-92 - J. C. Mason, died Apr 25, 1892. G. C. Swearingin / 1892-1901 - J. J. Maxwell, resigned Aug 29, 2901; Prof. W. Jamison, died Nov 1901; E. H. Jackson, Dec 2, 1901 / 1902-03 - E. H. Jackson

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15th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the year Ending June 30, 1900:  p. 78, Eight grades, nine room brick, Sixth Street, opposite City Hall.  Boundary - Beginning at the junction of the Kaw River and Northrup Avenue, thence west to Sixth Street, thence north to Ann Avenue, thence west to Seventh Street, thence north to Nebraska Avenue, thence east to Sixth Street, thence south to State Avenue, thence east to Missouri River, thence southwest along west bank of Missouri and Kaw Rivers to point of beginning.  C. W. Porter, Principal  (Separate listing for Seventh and Ann School in Report)

16th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the year Ending June 30, 1901:  p. 18:  Central School - Huron Place, Nine room brick.  Nine teachers.  Principal, C. W. Porter.  Janitress, Mrs. D. A McKenzie.  Teachers Salaries - $4,801.10; Janitors Salary - $443.00; Fuel - $139.88; Repairs - $921.90; Supplies - $30.00; School Library - $27.00; Insurance - $60.50; Water - $48.13; Printing $7.80; Total - $6,479.31.

17th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1902 and 1903:  p. 99, Eight grades and above the Fifth in the Bancroft district, north of Northrup Avenue, nine-room brick, corner of Seventh Street and Ann Avenue.  Boundary - Beginning at the Missouri Pacific tracks and Minnesota Avenue, west on Minnesota Avenue to Sixth Street, north on Sixth Street to Nebraska Avenue, west on Nebraska Avenue to Ninth Street, south on Ninth Street to Tauromee Avenue, east on Tauromee Avenue, east on Ohio Avenue to Seventh Street, south on Seventh Street to Northrup Avenue, east on Northrup Avenue to Missouri Pacific tracks to the point of beginning.  C. W. Porter, Principal  (Separate listing for Seventh and Ann School in Report)

22nd Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1906, 1907 and 1908 (no further listing for Seventh and Ann School - Central School now shows address of Seventh and Ann - consolidation took place in 1902 for preparation of building of Carnegie Library):  p. 42, Eight grades, nine-room brick, corner Seventh Street and Ann Avenue.

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"By the mid 1890s, the old Central School was seriously outmoded, and the Board of Education began to consider plans for a new high school building on the same site. The City went into court and asked for an injunction restraining the Board of Education from erecting its proposed building, alleging that the ground known as "Huron Place" had been dedicated by the town company for park purposes only and that the Board of Education had no rights there. The District Court granted the injunction. The immediate effect of this was to change the location of the new high school to the northwest corner of 9th and Minnesota, while a new Central Elementary School was built on the site of the present Wyandotte County Courthouse.

The Board of Education appealed the case to the State Supreme Court, and here the judgment of the District Court was reversed, the Court holding that the marking "Seminary Place" on the original plat showed the purpose for which the grant was intended; that a seminary was a school; that the Board of Education was rightfully in possession; and that the resolutions passed by the City Council thirty years before neither added to nor took from its rights. The judgment was reversed with instructions to ascertain the boundaries of the tract designated as "Seminary Place" and to quiet the title of the Board of Education thereto as against the City. The city engineer was called upon to locate the boundaries and his report was accepted by the District Court. It showed a frontage of 154 feet on 6th Street, 88 feet on Minnesota Avenue and 88 feet on Ann Avenue. These three frontages were connected by boundary lines of curves, tangents and radii which rendered exact the approximations of the original town plat. (To the unprejudiced eye, the curving lines on the original plat look suspiciously like the outline of a proposed system of broad ornamental walks through the park.)

The Legislature of 1893 had passed a special act giving the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas, authority to levy a half mill tax for library purposes. Nearly six years went by, however, before the board acted. At a meeting of the Board of Education on January 2, 1899, the Board accepted the responsibility of library administration for the city and established a public library. The library's first quarters were in rented space at Seventh and Minnesota, and were later changed to Fifth and Minnesota. In the meantime a connection had been made with Andrew Carnegie and on August 5, 1901, his offer of $75,000 for a library building was accepted by the Board of Education.

A "gentleman's agreement" was made with the City Council whereby the two governmental entities which had been so recently contending in the courts would pool their interests in Huron Place. By the terms of this agreement the new Carnegie library building was to have a suitable place and all the rest of the square was to be converted into a park to be under City control. The City then passed an ordinance providing for the grading of Huron Place, and some twenty feet or more was taken off the hill on which the old Central School building once stood, reducing the grade to its present level and leaving the adjacent Huron Indian Cemetery isolated at the top of a steep slope.

The designer of the new Carnegie Library was William W. Rose, official architect for the Board of Education. The cornerstone of the building was laid on September 6, 1902, with three thousand people in attendance. When the library opened in 1904 it had 5,500 books on its shelves, with a total circulation in its first year of operation of 60,1902. In addition to the library, the building also housed the offices of the Board of Education. As the building occupied the central portion of Seminary Place (ignoring an overlap of one corner onto City property by some four feet), the decision of the State Supreme Court remained intact."   Information provided by the City Planning Commission on their Internet site.

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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