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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Central Elementary School

Central Elementary School Homepage

Central Elementary School - 2003Location: 8th and Barnett

Building closed as school:  1991
Current Building: Houses Prevention Services (2003)

The name "Central" has been used by various schools located in the central area of Kansas City, Kansas .  Due to this, confusion often reigns relative to which school is "Central".

Although the Central Elementary School at 8th and Barnett was not built until 1923-1925, it grew out of the old Central Public School (built in 1868 in Huron Place).  Because of its origin, some people feel that Central Elementary School (housing Prevention Services, Parents as Teachers, and other programs from 1991 until May 2004) has been contributing to education in KCKs for the past 132 years.

Central at 8th and Barnett was not the first public school in Wyandotte County, nor was the old Central Public School in Huron Place .  Article #1 in our series contains information about the 1 st public school in Wyandotte County, located on 4 th Street between State and Nebraska, built by the Wyandot Indians.

Old Central Public School, however, was the first school built by the organized school District #1 in 1868.  It housed all grades at that time.  Students of upper grades from old Central Public School and from the subscription Palmer Academy were sent in 1882 to Riverview School (first free public high school) and overcrowding caused additional classes to be held at the Principal's home. Later, due to growth in enrollment, the Palmer Academy was purchased and the high school students began attendance there (aka Wyandotte Academy ). Later they attended at KCKs High School (1899), and then Wyandotte High School at 2501 Minnesota Avenue (built by the WPA in 1937 after the KCKs High School was destroyed by fire in 1934).  Other grades remained at old Central Public School until over crowding took place, as well as deterioration of the building. Students were then housed in additional rented buildings.  I have read in other publications that high school students from the Turner area were sent to school in KCKs.

For the remaining grades in old Central Public School, the enrollment continued to rise.

Across the street from Central Elementary (approx 815-819 Ann Avenue ) is a park with a tennis court.  The name was 8th Street Park, sometimes called Alice/Allis Park.  It was constructed by the WPA. The tennis courts were built in the mid 1930s originally.  When first built, there was a problem of water backup when rains were heavy - sometimes the park filled with 6-7 feet of water due to inadequate sewer systems of the times. ( Dr. Walter L. Davies, June, 2003 ). 

Following below is a summary of the history of the building called Central Elementary which still sits at 8th and Barnett. Due to overcrowding at M E Pearson and Whittier Elementary Schools, attendance boundary lines have been redrawn and Central Elementary School is being renovated and reopened for student attendance in the fall of 2004.  

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1859 - Pursuant to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Articles of the Treaty concluded January 31, 1855, between the U. S. Commissioners and the Wyandott Indians, a return dated April 14, 1859, from the Commissioner of Indian affairs has been made to the General Land Office embracing a transcript entitled "Wyandotte Reserves Competent Class Book A" designating the parcels of land awarded to heads of families and individuals of said tribe, said parcels of land being laid down on the Plat connected with said Book, dated February 27th, 1859 at Wyandott City, Kansas, and certified by the United States Commissioner for the Wyandotte, and Whereas, the following Allotment of land as described in said transcript Book "A", and laid down on the plant aforesaid as No. 126 has been made to Hiram M. Northrup, the head of a family, consisting of himself, Margaret, Milton, Andrew, Thomas and McHenry Northrup.  (Signed by President James Buchanan, Secretary J. A. B. Leonard, and Recorder of the General Land Office, I. N. Granger) (containing 163.75 acres)

1923 - Board bought four houses at 8th and Barnett from Mrs. Addie Smith, Mrs. Smaill and Mr. and Mrs. Myer.

1909-1925 - Rose/Peterson, Architects - Much sparer in overall design are ten primary and secondary school constructed to meet the demands of a growing population.  The use of materials (brick and terra-cotta), frequent application of Classical detailing, and overall plan (which features a two-story rectangular block, three bays wide), are treated similarly in all of these schools.  Differing from late nineteenth and early twentieth century design, these schools were planned to provide more light and circulation for the students and staff:  Stanley (1913), Whittier II (1919-20), Chelsea II (1921-23), Roosevelt (1922), McKinley, Louisa M. Alcott, and Mark Twain (1922-1924), Major Hudson (1923-24), and Central III (1924) elementary schools and Turner High School, built in 1916-17.  The elementary schools were also designed in such a way that they could, if need be, be built in stages, responding to population increases within their service areas.

1924 - Sod broken in February.

1925 - December: Moved to new building on day before Christmas vacation began.

1930 - September: Central is a teachers' training center. Miss Cora Showalter, critic teacher.

1932 - Death of Cora May Showalter, active in teacher groups.

1950's - The custodian was a Mr. Kessler.  He also acted as disciplinarian for the boys - Central had all female teachers and it seemed more appropriated for Mr. Kessler to deal with some of the "male" subjects with the boys.

Alton Davies (later President of KCKCC) was a crossing monitor at Central.  His brother, Walter Davies (later Dr. Walter Davies, Asst Superintendent of Curriculum, KCKs Public Schools) also attended.  The family lived on Barnett and Mrs. Davies had a candy store across from Central on 8th Street.  During this time period, 8th Street was a dangerous area with heavy traffic.  Several children died from traffic accidents before a light was put in at 8th & Barnett.

Wednesday afternoons were early release for pupils to leave school and attend church school.  There was a large Jewish population at Central and they attended the synagogue on 7th Street.  Felice Miller (daughter or Rabbi Miller) attended Central.  Many of the non-Jewish students went to church school at the Salvation Army Hall.  Mrs. Branch was the church school teacher and she was also secretary for the draft board in KCKs.

(1950's information furnished by Mrs. Sandy Dunn Reid, former Central Elementary student.)

1977 - Court ordered desegregation plan: included Central, Douglass and Frances Willard in a cluster. Students in grades K-2 remained in their home school; all 3rd grade students from the three schools attended Frances Willard; all 4th grade students attended Central; 5th and 6th grade students attended Douglass.

1982 - Policy change to include 6th grade students in Middle School.

1991 - School closed May, 1991. Boundary change: to M. E. Pearson attendance area. New Whittier opened.

1992 - Building used to house DARE program, Parents as Teachers and middle school alternative education program.2002 - Building known as Old Central Elementary/Prevention Services.

2004 - Due to overcrowding at M E Pearson and Whittier Elementary Schools, boundary lines are being changed, and (depending upon the home address) specific students will attend Central, Grant or McKinley Elementary Schools in the fall.  Buildings at Central Elementary and McKinley Elementary are being upgraded and perimeter fences are being replaced. This is part of Phase IV of the 2001 KCKs Public Schools $120 million bond issue.

June 2:  Kansas City Star:  The district has been losing students, but spokesman Carroll Macke said that an influx of students in the central city forced the district to re-open Central Elementary at 8th St and Barnett Ave and McKinley Elementary at 611 N. 14 St. to reduce overcrowding at other elementary schools in the area.  Other schools such as Lindbergh on North 57th St. and Frances Willard at 34th and Orville Ave, have added modular classrooms to accommodate students.

Students at Central and McKinley will begin the school year with new and improved facilities thanks in part to a $40,000 grant from the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation.  The money will be used to place playground equipment at both schools, with the remainder of the grant money being used to purchase books, especially books for Spanish speaking students, for the schools' libraries.

2009 - School Closed and student redistributed.

2012 - Mark Twain students will be attending school in the Central Elementary while Mark Twain is being torn down and rebuilt. Congratulations to KCKPS for being sensitive to the history of our school district, and planing the architecture accordingly.


1923-48 - Elizabeth Sparks / 1948-56 - Margaret Barclay / 1956-64 - Elizabeth Hepler / 1964-66 - James Hammer / 1966-68 - Alice Barnett / 1968-73 - Donald Toevs / 1973-77 - James Thornton / 1977-81 - Wayne Winkler / 1982-88 - Nolen Porchia / 1988-89 - Rosemary Harrington / 1989-91 - Fayetta Young / 1992-2003 - Building closed as school / Building reopened as school, 2004-2009 - John Burton

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Across the street from Central Elementary (with one side of the park about 815-819 Ann Avenue) is a park with a tennis court.  The name was 8th Street Park.  It was constructed as part of the city parks by the WPA.  The tennis courts were built in the mid 1930s originally.  When first built, there was a problem of water backup when rains were heavy - sometimes the park filled with 6-7 feet of water due to inadequate sewer systems of the times.  (Dr. Walter L. Davies, June, 2003). 

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 29-Jun-2012

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