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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Morse Elementary School

Picture Gallery


Morse Elementary - 2003Other Names: 21st Street School in 1889

Names for Colonel Morse (Armourdale businessman)

To the left:  Morse Pre-School and Early Childhood Development, June, 2003



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

Architectural Blue Prints and/or Plot Plan of School Building


1888 - Before 1888, school held in store building on Baltimore and Miami.

June 18. Mr. Brent of Kansas Town Site Company agreed to furnish twelve lots and $6,000 for building. Wanted to deed to some responsible outside party to hold until bonds were issued.

July 3. Kansas Town Site Company deeded Lots 35-46, Block 102, Armourdale, to Board of Education. Located on west side of Baltimore between Cheyenne and Miami. Deed in name of James M. Squires. Named for Colonel Morse, prominent Armourdale man.

Location referred to as 20th or 21st Street, as Armourdale, previous to 1886 city consolidation, had streets numbered differently.

July 5. L G Ferguson awarded contract for four-room brick building. Architect was W. W. Rose and W. F. Hackney designed the building.

October 1. Room rented at 12th and Kansas until building completed.

First principal, H W McKean. Teachers were Josie Daniels, Mary Donnelly and Florence J Brouse. Eight grades in four rooms.

December 6. J M Squires deeded property to Board of Education for one dollar.

1889 - Citizens wanted addition. Older children to Armourdale School.

District was west of Mill, south of Union Pacific Railroad, north of Kaw River, and east of city limits.

August 15. Board gave warrant to Townsite and Bridge Company to pay off mortgage on lots 35-46, Block 102.

Also referred to as the " 21st Street School".

1890 - August 14. L G Ferguson awarded contract for five-room addition to Morse.

September. Two rooms rented from a Mr. Haley until addition ready.

1894 - February. Architect Rose drew plans for addition.

1895 - August. Northeast corner of Baltimore and Ohio rented from A. Keys for school use.

1897 - May 17. F W Soper awarded contract for four-room addition to Morse.

1899 - Second addition. Architect was W. W. Rose

1901 - May 6. Contract to S J Davidson for four-room addition.

1902 - Had 1147 enrolled.

1903 - February. Mercantile Club investigated schools. Reported need of twelve-room building in west end of Armourdale.

June. Flood waters within ten inches of ceilings. Basements filled with mud. Mr. Pearson and Mrs. Bowles visited flooded section in boat. Current at Morse too swift to get to building.

For many days the daily papers were filled with accounts of the high water. Board member Bowles and Superintendent Pearson hired a boat and went to the Armourdale School. At the Morse School, the current was too swift for the boat to get close. Wood was the third school to be inundated. They feared the three buildings would have to be replaced, but Wood was the only one condemned. Earlier it had been declared unfit for use and a new building recommended for the following year. By July, Armourdale and Morse were being repaired. Bruce, the colored school in the Wood district, also could be restored.

Building dilapidated. Started school on time in September. 747 enrolled in first month; grew to 1020.

1904 - June. Mr. Pearson asked for Morse Kindergarten. Needed where school life ends early.

1895-1909 - W. W. Rose, Architect - Rose also worked on six separate school projects which resulted in additions to the following Hackney-designed elementary schools: Morse, John J. Ingalls, London Heights (Abbot, and Reynolds ( Prescott ). The strong resemblance of Ingalls to Lowell, Irving, and Eugene Field suggests that in this instance, the addition was more in the nature of a complete reconstruction or replacement. The first and sixth projects involved Hawthorne Elementary, a school Rose more than likely originally designed. These two plans added a total of eight rooms to this grade school.

1909 - School crowded. Bought eleven lots near school.

1912 - September. What possibly may have been the first upgraded room in the city was organized in September, 1912, at Morse by Albert Evans. Kansas City, Kansas Public School History, Nellie McGuinn, 1961

No date given for PTA. Known as Mother's Club. Mrs. John Orr was first president.

1940 - March 8. Reunion. First homecoming in 15 years.

1951 - Damaged by flood.

1953 - Morse, built in 1888 and survivor of two major floods, was scheduled for rehabilitation.  Trespassers, by design or accident, set fire to the empty building early on the morning of January 16 (17).  In below freezing temperature, eight companies of firemen fought a spectacular blaze for over an hour.  Floors and roof were so badly damaged that the board decided against trying to repair the school. 

1954 - June. New Morse under construction. Old building razed. To have one story with eight rooms. Wilson and Earnheart, architects. William S Rawlins, contractor.

1955 - September 12. New building used for first time.

November 17. New Morse dedicated. J C Harmon, former Argentine principal, was speaker.

1998 - School closed as elementary. Students go to John Fiske. Building to house Pre-school and Kindergarten.

2001 - Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Morse Preschool was part of Phase I, which was completed in the summer of 2001.


1888-91 - H W McKean / 1891-99 - W A Morrison / 1999-1900 - No information / 1900-05 - J L Howard / 1905-06 - S F Wright / 1907-43 - Bertha McKinley / 1943-51 - Ivy Howard / 1952 - Flood Damage / 1953-54 - No information / 1955-76 - Sybil Fisher / 1976-79 - Patrick Cigich / 1979-81 - Charles Ireland / 1981-84 - Art Newton / 1984-88 - Patrick Cigich / 1988-91 - Laura Swartz / 1991-99 - Betty Martin / Elementary Closed - Early Childhood Center Opened / 1999 - Debi Apple

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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, 1901:  p. 84, Eight grades, sixteen room brick.  Baltimore Street between Miami Avenue and Cheyenne Avenue.  Boundary - All of that portion of the Sixth Ward lying west of Coy Street.  J. L. Howard, Principal

Ward Boundaries

18th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1904:  p. 22 - "Kindergarten - It is to be regretted that kindergarten training is not given to the children of this city before they reach the age for admission to the first grade.  Kindergartens have been established for so long a time in the schools of most cities of the country that they have become a recognized part in every complete system of schools. There is great demand for these schools in some of our school districts. This is particularly true in those communities where from the necessity of home conditions the period of school life must necessarily end at a much earlier age than in others. I would recommend that as soon as possible kindergarten schools be established in the Cooper, Armourdale, and Morse Schools."

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History of the Schools:  Part X-Clara Barton, John Fiske, Junction Elementary, J.J. Lewis, Thomas Edison and Carlisle Schools
Silver City Record, Kansas City, KS, 1977

In the 1951 flood, John Fiske suffered heavy damage as did the John J. Ingalls and the Morse School of Armourdale.  The Clara Barton School and Phillips, a Black school, were completely destroyed. 

Trailer City was built on the site of the Old Homestead Golf Course for flood victims of Argentine and Armourdale.  This was near the present location of the J. C. Harmon High School on Steele Road.  John Fiske Elementary School went to half-day sessions until Morse and John J. Ingalls were repaired.  A fire possibly caused by arson, destroyed the vacant Morse School and it had to be complete rebuilt.  A fire, however, in the basement of John Fiske in January of 1952 did little damage.  In September of 1952 instead of an estimated enrollment of 250 at John Fiske there was actually 499 pupils.  Trailer City children were shortly thereafter transferred back to John J. Ingalls and eventually back to the rebuilt Morse School.

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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