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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Garrison School

One-room schoolhouse


Other Names: Armstrong (1926)

Building Closed: 1943 (Armstrong School demolished in 1956 to make way for Kansas Turnpike)

Architectural Blue Prints and/or Plot Plan of School Building

In 1923, the family of Cordell D. Meeks (first black District Court Judge of Kansas) moved to Kansas City, Kansas. 

"I enrolled in the Garrison Elementary School when we arrived in Kansas City.  At that time it was housed in a two-room frame building on Eighth Street near Cornell Avenue.  Later and before I finished that school, it was moved to a two-story brick building at the corner of 8th Street and Colorado (later named Montana).

Although I had been promoted to the fourth grade, in Oklahoma, when we moved to Kansas City, I was required to start school in the third grade.  That was the policy of the State Board of Education, where the system from which a student came did not meet the standards of Kansas.

My first teacher in Kansas was Miss Beatrice Anderson (later Neely).  The principal was Mr. Lewis B. Sears and later Mr. Burton and later Miss Riley.

During my years at Garrison, I was the unofficial messenger boy for the school.  The teachers would frequently send me to the Board of Education offices up town.  I would make the trips by streetcar.  The fare was eight cents which they paid and sometimes tipped me."

To Heaven through Hell, Cordell D. Meeks, Corcell Publishers Inc., 1986 [Information furnished by courtesy of Mrs. Josephine Vandiver Boone]  For further excerpts, see Armstrong School, Northeast Jr High, and Sumner High School.

Judge Meeks' book is well recommended.  It is an autobiography of the First Black District Court Judge of Kansas.  It contains information not only about Judge Cordell D. Meeks, but the areas and times in which he lived.


1907 - August 13: Board of Education leased brick building on Colorado Avenue from Flanagan. Named for William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist.

1908 - Listed as one-room frame at 7th and Colorado.

1909 - Housing mentioned as temporary.

1910 - July 19: African American from Fifth Ward asked Board of Education for facilities. Board of Education promised to secure lease on a site and prepare plans for a two-room school.  The colored people of the district asked in 1910 for school facilities.  M. E. Pearson and A. J. Neely were appointed to investigate.  The board promised to secure a lease on a site for a two-room school.  The KC Breweries were notified that their building housing Garrison school would be vacated in September, 1910.

When ground at Mill and Gilmore was considered, white residents protested.  A three-member board committee and a group of the objectors met on September 20 to discuss the matter.  In November, a building was rented for Garrison and property at 348 South Eighth purchased for a site, near Cornell - two-room frame on Lots 11-13, Block 4, Armstrong.   Also listed between Euclid and Cornell.

1911 - October 31:  Letter to Board Attorney, E. S. McAnany from Board of Education Clerk  (.pdf)

"Enclosed you will find communication relative to the location of the Garrison School on south Eighth Street.

This matter has long been a bone of contention and the Board has ut forth every effort to satisfy all parties concerned.  For a period of 2 years this school was maintained in a rented store building on south Seventh Street. This was vacated by the Board after hearing several delegations of patrons relative to its location on a car line.

The Board then took up the matter of securing a new site during the vacation of 1910.  At one meeting of the Board, would appear a delegation of negroes asking that a certain location be obtained; and at the next would appear a body of the white residents protesting against the location of this school in their midst.

As several locations had been investigated and rejected as unsuitable, the Board finally rented property at 348 south 8th Street and converted a residence situated thereon into a building suitable for school purposes, it being understood at the time between the Board of Education and the colored patrons that this would be satisfactory, until such time as the pupils residing in the district increased in number to such an extent as to justify the erection of a larger building.

The number of pupils this year according to the census is approximately the same as last, and the Board had leased this property for two years in any event; yet at the beginning of the present school term the patrons refused to send their children and a delegation again appeared before the Board, at the meeting of September demanding that the Board fill in the low land around this building, claiming that the dampness caused by the foregoing condition was a menace to health.  Permission was obtained from the above property owners as well as the owner of 348 S. 8th Street, and the land was filled in in the best manner possible under the existing conditions  Notwithstanding all this it seems that the patrons of this school have seen fit to take the matter up as you will note by the letter above referred to which as yet has not been heard by the Board.  I am sending same to you in order that you may have the advantage of looking up the matter before the Board meets, November 6th."

(Note:  At this time, this letter is the only correspondence on this matter that has been located.

1920 - First PTA President, Mrs. Elizabeth Pullem.

1926 - Garrison School (Armstrong area): Students reassigned to Armstrong School at Colorado Avenue and South 8th Street (facing Colorado - bounded on the west by 8th Street and on the north by Cornell). Occupied three rooms. Armstrong School renamed Garrison, and also accepted transfer of students from Phillips School in 1931 (colored school in Armstrong). Occupied three rooms. Three teachers, six grades. First Principal, Miss Freddie Riley.

1931 - Phillips (Armourdale) children to Garrison ( formerly known as Armstrong School).

1942 - City Planning Commission reported old Garrison unfit building for modern use.

1951 - Overall history on this school's involvement with the 1951 flood.

1956 - Building demolished to make way for Kansas Turnpike. Used as practice in fire fighting by Kansas City Fire Department. Cornerstone in Wyandotte Historical Society Museum.


1907-11 - Ella V. Robinson / 1911-15 - Urma Bradford / 1915-18 - Homer V. Wilburn / 1918-21 - Gertrude Jenkins / 1921-22 / Sherman Scruggs / 1922-23 - Lewis B. Spears / 1924-25 - H. W. Burton / 1925-30 - Miss Freddie Riley / 1930-40 - Lillie Adams / 1940-43 - Marguerite Hall

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22nd Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1906, 1907 and 1908: p. 43, Four grades, one-room frame, Colorado Avenue and Seventh Street.  All of Fifth Ward, south of Central Avenue.

Ward Boundaries

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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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