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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Dunbar School
Dunbar/Dunbar South

Two Buildings Operating as One School

Dunbar Picture Gallery


Dunbar South:  6th and Waverly (Note:  For information on Dunbar South, see Longfellow School) - Dunbars North and South one block from each other (former Longfellow School)

Dunbar - then Dunbar NorthKnown as "Rattlebone Hollow" area

Building Closed: 1972

Building/Land Sold: 1977

Fifth Street School

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

Architectural Blue Prints and/or Plot Plan of School Building

Profiles of African American Personalities in Wyandotte County, Kansas

Rattlebone Hollow

The following information was taken from In Commemoration of the Dunbar Elementary School, compiled by the Dunbar P.T.A., 1971, pg. 81-82; Wilma Scroggins, author/compiler

"Rattlebone Hollow was characterized by many hills and hollows, with natural ponds and streams in ravines where young boys caught live fish.  Modernization has almost eliminated the two largest undeveloped ravines.  The ravine in front of both Dunbar buildings was partially filled with dirt from cutting through Seventh Street Trafficway or Highway as most residents call it.  This eliminated the stream that flowed in front of the North Building.  Remnants of concrete steps still line the north part of the ravine, mutely testifying to the homes that once were there.  Later filling on the south end of the ravine created a parking lot for the South Building and space where a resident, E. T. Baskin, and his family have built four of the seven family homes that line the street.  Another larger ravine to the east is scheduled for a Land-fill Project sponsored by the Federal government as a pilot project which will complete revise the adjacent area."


1904 - Primary classes in rented rooms on the corner of 5th and Georgia.

September: Patrons asked for school north of Haskell between 2nd and 9th Streets. School named in honor Paul Laurence Dunbar (first African American to gain national eminence as a poet). (Note: When attempting to locate this area in 2003, it is important to note that after 1950, Waverly and Haskell Streets changed names - Haskell became Waverly and Waverly became Haskell. Today Waverly is south of Haskell, as opposed to being north in 1904. In 1904, Rowland and Waverly were one block apart.)

Poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar was so talented and versatile that he succeeded in two worlds. He was so adept at writing verse in Black dialect that he became known as the "poet of his people," while also cultivating a white audience that appreciated the brilliance and value of his work. Majors and Minors (1895), Dunbar's second collection of verse, financed by several white friends, was a remarkable work containing some of his best poems in both Black dialect and standard English. Melodic and rhythmical, his lines in this and other works often sing and swing along gloriously. When the country's reigning literary critic, William Dean Howells reviewed majors and Minors favorably, Dunbar became famous. And Howells', introduction in Lyric of Lowly Life (1896) helped make Dunbar the most popular African-American writer in America at the time. Dunbar had plenty of experience bridging racial gaps. Despite being the only African-American in his class at Central high School in Dayton, Ohio, he was well liked by teachers and classmates and was elected president of the school literary society and editor of the school paper in his senior year. Even though he reached a point when publications competed for anything (poems, short stories, novels, prose, sketches, plays and musical lyrics) that sprang from his fertile mind, Dunbar wrote for a living and had to please popular reading tastes for the light, romantic, and sentimental. But he did publish a few pieces that spoke out gently against the typical treatment of his people, including "We Wear the Mask" and "The Haunted Oak," an anti-lynching poem. Despite worsening health from the tuberculosis he succumbed to at age 34 in 1906,, Dunbar produced four collections of short stories and a quartet of novels in a creative outpouring between 1898 and 1904. His most notable short-story collections were Folks From Dixie and The Heart of Happy Hollow, and his novels included The Fanatics, a tale of political conflict involving two Civil War families, and The Sport of the Gods, about injustice suffered by an innocent African-American family.

1906 - Board of Education arranged renting and repairing of Dunbar. Bond issue by Board of Education.

1907 - March: New building to have six rooms. Architect to estimate cost.

April: Dunbar children were attending school in a building rented from a brewery.

May: Tuttle and Clerk made survey at 6th and Rowland.

June: L. G. Ferguson awarded contract.

October: Board of Education threatened to cancel contract because of delay.

Building: 77'4" x 48'8"; 2 stories with basement; 7 classrooms; boiler room; masonry wall and wood framing; seating for 322; concrete footings foundation; roof was tar and gravel on wood framing; hot air furnaces with stack distribution to rooms; no electric lighting.

1908 - May 4: Dunbar accepted by Board of Education. First Principal, Laura Harlan.

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.

1920 - Four-room addition planned with lavatories and showers, stone wall and fence.

1930 - September: Cadet center for Teachers' College. Mildred Hudson, critic teacher.

1954 - November 16: Open House for former Longfellow School at 6th and Waverly. Rehabilitated and reopened as annex for Dunbar School. Twelve rooms. To be known as Dunbar South. Raymond Meyn, architect. Harlen and Laughlin, contractors.

1972 - Dunbar North (Kdgtn-2) at 6th and Rowland. School closed and building razed. Pupils to Fairfax and Banneker.

1976 - January 6: "It was reported that bids to purchase the property known as Dunbar North had been received as follows: Fred L. Taylor, $1200; Jack Barber, $750; Troy P. Campbell, $400. It was stated that the property consisted of approximately 54,425 square feet and that the highest offer amounted to approximately $.0229 per square foot. Mr. Larson, seconded by Mr. Hall, moved: That the Board of Education pass on the offers received to purchase the Dunbar North property."

1977 - October 18: Land sold for commercial use. "That the Board of Education accept the offer of Mr. Fred Taylor of $.21 per square foot for the Dunbar North site and authorize the President and the Clerk to sign the necessary contract for sale and deed." Warranty deed issued June 26, 1979 after final payment from Mr. Taylor. (Fred's Market, 1922 N. 7th St. Trafficway)

Dunbar South (grades 3-6), 6th and Waverly: school closed and building razed. Land offered for sale but unsold as of August 2, 1994. Pupils to Fairfax and Banneker.

1994 - August 16: Dunbar South Proposed for sale to Evangelistic Center Church of God in Christ for $500.


1904-06 - Lizzie Davis; Laura Harlan / 1907 - M. Harvey Tompkins or Lizzie Davis / 1908 - Laura J. Harlan / 1909-13 - Harvey Tompkins / 1913-30 - Ella V. Robinson / 1930-52 - Melonee Anderson / 1951-69 - Sirpora Miller (Anderson) / 1969-71 - Louis Plummer / 1971-72 - Mazie Mitchell

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"It was on the northeast corner of Sixth Street and Rowland Avenue where Dunbar North was constructed.  [Annotation:  Originally called simply Dunbar School.  It did not become Dunbar North until the annex, Dunbar South, was added.]  This area which was located in the northeast part of Kansas City, Kansas was also known as "Rattle Bone Hollow."  There are many interesting stories that relate how the name of "Rattle Bone Hollow" came about, but none of these stories are of historical value, therefore, the stories will not be mentioned at this time.  The first section of Dunbar was completed in 1905.  It was a four room structure, and at time there were four teachers.  They grades ran one through eight.  The first principal was Laura Harland and the four faculty members were Lizzie Davis, Mayme Brown, Evelyn Wake and Ethel Barksdale.  From 1906 to 1913, Mr. Harvey Thompkins took the helm as principal of Dunbar.  From 1913 to 1930, Ella V. Robinson was the principal.  Melonee Anderson followed Ella V. Robinson as principal of Dunbar Elementary School.  Later, Sirpora Miller became principal of Dunbar Elementary School.

In 1920, six rooms and two lavatories were added to the main building.  In 1930, a large retaining wall was built around the east and south sides of the playground.  Today the retaining wall still stands.  By 1938, the Board of Education finally found the need for covering the entire playground with asphalt.  The old gravel playground was no longer responsible for wearing out shoes and scarring little knees.  A kindergarten building was added in the early 1920's.

Some of the most distinguished teachers at Dunbar North were Evalena Hunt,  Pauline Turner, Delthea New, Bertha Flowers, Bernice Wilson, Helen Barksdale, Margaret Wright, Lucille Raymond, Charlotte Hayden, Lillian Groomer, Nadine Stppe, Adabooth Penn and Myrtle Phelps.  These famous teachers were probably remembered by most students who attended Dunbar School from 1925 through 1935.

Prior to 1939, the history of Dunbar South School was very interesting.  The original building was known as the Long School.  It was in 1886 when the northeast part of Kansas City, Kansas was known as Edgerton Place.  There was a railway known as the "L" that traveled north on Fifth Street to the area that was known as Edgerton Place.  There was great need for a school in that section that once was used by the operators of the "L".  This old station was named by the Board of Education as the Long School.  Records, indicate that the name of Long School was changed from Long School to Longfellow School.  Longfellow School was for White students only until the year of 1939.  It was then that the Longfellow School was closed.

In the fall of 1939, however, the old Longfellow School was reopened to ease the overcrowded condition at Dunbar North.  This time the school was given the name of Dunbar South.  Records still show that the Longfellow (Dunbar South) School was located at Sixth Street and Waverly Avenue.  Actually, the school ground of Dunbar South began at the corner of Sixth and Greeley Avenue.  The school stood where Waverly Avenue would have been had it not been closed off at Fifth Street.  The lot still stands today where the school was located.  Dunbar South building was used by government agencies, while the upper floor of the building was used for school children.  The Dunbar South building was permanently closed and razed in 1974."

A History of Black Education in Kansas City, Kansas, Readin', 'Riting, 'Rithmetic by William W. Boone, March 1986 (Copy located in the KCKs Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave, KCKs, 913-551-3280).  The school district is sincerely grateful to Mr. William W. Boone, Ms. Josephine C. Vandiver, and Mr. Jackson C. Van Trece for their research and preparation of this material.   (Check the Biographies Index on the site map to view bios on these three people.)

This represents an excerpt from the manuscript/book as it was presented, including terminology used at the time of the writing.  All attempts have been made to reproduce the spelling, capitalization and layout of the original manuscript/book as much as possible.

Disclaimer:  The written historical perspectives online at this web site, and web sites to which links are provided, reflect the view of the author(s)/(creator(s) which are protected under the rights of free speech; and do "not" necessarily reflect the views of the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education.

Copyright Notice: In keeping with the policy of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by non-commercial entities for research/information. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other gain. Printing for personal research use is encouraged, as long as this "copyright notice" is kept with the copy. Other use, including publication, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other means requires the written approval of the author(s) of this works.

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18th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1904:  p. 109, First grade and 2B, rented room, corner of Fifth Street and Georgia Avenue.  Boundary - Pupils below the second A grade who live north of Haskell Avenue.  No principal listed

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

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