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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Lowell Elementary School

Location: James Russell Lowell

Built/Opened: 1898

Named for James Russell Lowell (James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) is one of the group of authors sometimes called the Fireside Poets or the Schoolroom Poets, a group which also included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Because of their conservative approach to verse and the often blatant morality in their poetry, the very qualities that made them popular in their day, they have been out of favor throughout much of the twentieth century. Nevertheless members of the group like Lowell and Whittier, both ardent abolitionists, may not have seemed so conservative in the nineteenth century.)

Lowell - Dec 2002

Architectural Analysis - Public School Buildings (New/Additions) by Rose and Peterson - 1890-1927

The majority of the historical information on Lowell comes from The History of the KCKs Public Schools, 1819-1961 by Nellie McGuinn, 1961 (KCKs teacher of many years prepared this and other records for Superintendent Frank L. Schlagle.)

Barnett School (s.w. corner 11 th & Barnett) parents wanted a new school. The board agreed to building during vacation time and asked that five patrons help select a new site as the cost of grading the old Barnett site at Eleventh and Barnett made that ground impractical. They chose a 157 ½ foot frontage on the northwest corner of Tenth and Orville. The board found a less expensive site, 200 by 137 feet, on the north side of Orville between Tenth and Eleventh Streets. The parents agreed that this plot, part of the Hiram Northrup estate, was a better choice. The board purchased the land in Block 2 of the Northrup Park addition for an eight-room brick school and recorded in the minutes that the Barnett patrons thanked the board members for their courtesy. The new school was named on May 16, 1898 for the "distinguished author" James Russell Lowell. The contract was awarded to Frederick W. Soper.

Lowell - 1893Lowell was first occupied in 1898 and consisted of eight classrooms and eight teachers. The first faculty was: W J Logan, principal; Laura Fitch, gr 7; Ethel Litchfield, gr 6; Dora Bean, grade 5; Bertha Ball, gr 4; Hallie Lasley, gr 3; Lizzie Greenwood, gr 2; Katie McGinnis, gr 1.

The architect was W. W. Rose: 1895-1909 - W. W. Rose, Architect - The remaining schools designed by Rose alone are, for the most part, unrestrained interpretations of Classical styles. This group of structures includes Lowell Elementary (1897-98) and Irving Elementary (1900), two schools of comparable design which incorporate towers into the overall theme; Eugene Field (1900), similar to Lowell and Irving but with minimum articulation; Whittier Elementary (1908), Dunbar Elementary (1908), Hawthorne Elementary (1908-09), and Horace Mann Elementary (1909) which employ Classical detailing to otherwise moderately articulated facades; and Cooper Elementary (1904), which remains the most modest design from this period of Rose's Career. (from Architectural Analysis - Public School Buildings (New/Additions) by Rose and Peterson - 1890-1927, KCKs Planning Department)

Lowell Elementary School was designed in 1897-98, with a Kindergarten addition designed by Rose and Peterson added in 1922. The pyramidal roof dormer is similar in design to the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. The plan for the addition was very sensitive to the overall design of the building.  Now vacant and endangered, this is the oldest surviving school building known to have been entirely designed by Rose.

The father of Louis A. Drier, class 1903, and grandfather of Homer Drier, class of 1927, was the builder of the school. His firm was known as Drier and Funk Construction Company. The six room addition was made in 1905 or 1906.

1899: When Reynolds patrons wanted an addition, they were told by the board that Lowell, London Heights, and others were in the same fix. Later an addition of six rooms was made to the west side of the Lowell building. 

1900: At the Lowell School, the smokestack had to be raised five feet above its former height, and doors put on rooms and cloakrooms to shut them off.

15th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the year Ending June 30, 1901: p. 83, Eight grades, eight room brick, Orville Avenue between Tenth Street and Eleventh Street. Boundary - Beginning at Eighth Street and Ohio Avenue, thence west to City Limits, thence north to Oakland Avenue, thence east to Ninth Street, thence south to Tauromee Avenue, thence east to Eighth Street, thence south to the point of beginning. W. J. Logan, Principal

In 1916 there was a one-room portable at 14th and Armstrong that was officially known as Lowell Annex, although it was eight blocks from the larger school. Mrs. Stella Goodwin, teacher of the first grade there, referred to the small building as " James Whitcomb Riley School " and hoped that it would be named for the children's poet. In 1917 another portable was added. Miss Esther taught the second grade there until a new school was built in the district. The portables later were used for lockers at the athletic field on the old Carnival Park grounds at 14th and Armstrong.

In 1919 and 1920 the ground to the west of the school was purchased for enlarging the play space for the children.

The records from the Registrar of Deeds office give information concerning the purchase of the ground for the building.

March 18, 1898, the executors of the estate of Hiram Northrup, deceased, give a quit claim deed to the Board of Education to the west 16 feet of lot 19, all of lots 20 and 21, and the east 13 feet of lot 22, block 2, Northrup Addition. Consideration, $1.00. Recorded in Book 274, Page 159.

Same date, same grantors, same grantee, same block, same addition, the west 12 feet of lot 22, all of lots 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28. Consideration of $1,125. Book 267, page 589.

December 20, 1919. Rhea Hughes Day to Board of Education, lots 32 and 33, Block 2. Consideration $4,100.00 Book 653, page 436.

August 12, 1920. Elmer A. Brown to Board of Education, lots 29, 30 and 31, Block 2. Consideration $1,875.00. Book 613, page 501.

From Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1962-1986, Dr. O. L. Plucker, Superintendent, Emeritus, June, 1987, pg. 108: Lowell as constructed in 1898, had an addition in 1905. A five-room primary grade annex was built in 1959 as a possible first unit of a building to replace the old main building. In 1980, the Lowell building was converted to use as a district warehouse due to its proximity to the central maintenance shops at 10th and Splitlog. Its annex was continued in use for three years (until 1980) as a primary grade extension of the new M. E. Pearson School. Thereafter, it was closed and reopened in 1981 as a center for high school age students who had dropped out of school and wished to renew their efforts (Career Learning Center). It was used for that purpose until 1984 and then used for two years as a center for Junior Achievement activities. In 1986, it reopened as a part of the Career Learning Center which had its major center at Fairfax.

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Thank you to Ms. Shirley Mingin of Kansas City, Kansas.  In September of 2004, the Wyandotte High School Class of 1949 held their 55th reunion.  At a monring coffee, some of the participants sang the Lowell School Song (used in the 1930's and 1940's and sung to the tune of "Juanita."  The song was written by Principal Aura Smith, later Mrs. Albert Prince.

Standing on Orville
Is a school we love so well.

There in the classrooms
We learn to read and spell.

We hear the chatter
From early until late.

Of all the children
From the first to the eight.

Lowell, oh-o-oh Lowell
Thy memory hath impart.

Lowell, oh-o-oh Lowell
Ever in my heart.

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On November 28 of 2006, the BOE approved the sale of the Lowell Building to Representative Stinegar and Sherry Wilson for developing for living residences.

It is with the sincerest hope of the web mistress that this building will be preserved in its architectural integrity as the years pass and that the legacy of W. W. Rose and the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools will live on.

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

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

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