Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Lowell and Whittier Schools


Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, May 17, 2011
Boys play football at the North Ward Lowell School, Frederick, in the 1940s
 Click on photos to see larger.
First ward schools were at different sites
Whoops. Sometimes, in the course of writing this column, I get something wrong. That’s easy to do when the subject is history, but some good folks usually let me know when they are sure that I have stated a fact incorrectly. I like that.
A few weeks ago when I wrote about the May Day festivities at the old North Ward Lowell School, I stated that the school was located at the site of present-day Frederick Elementary on North 15th Street.  As a matter of fact, I had assumed that when the “new” Lowell School and the “new” Whittier School were built in the mid-1950s, they had been built at the sites of the previous schools that bore these names.
Nope.
Several folks called or e-mailed me to tell me that was not the case. In fact, the old North Ward Lowell School, a two-story brick building constructed in 1911, was located in the 800 block between North 12th and North 13th Street.
I received a couple of nice e-mails from Paul Nicholson who wrote the following about the first Lowell School:
Photo of Mrs. Arthur Kelly's class shows fire escape in background

“Actually the old school was on 13th Street. I went there for my 6th grade which was the last year it was open. It covered the whole block except for one house which housed Shoemaker's candy store where I bought all those great old bubblegum baseball cards and failed to keep them.”
“It was a two story brick building with big round enclosed fire slides from the 2nd floor. We used to climb up them and slide back down. I finished the 6th grade in May 1950 and they tore it down shortly thereafter. It seems all the kids went to Central Grade for a few years as the 6th grade was in junior high.”
“I think maybe at first they thought they could handle all the kids in Central Grade, but shortly decided to build North and South Ward for the first five grades”
It was in 1950 that the high school moved to the present school campus at 15th and Gladstone and the former high school building became Central Grade School.
The “new” Lowell School was built on 15th Street in the mid-‘50s and currently serves as the Frederick School District’s administration office. The current Frederick Elementary School was built next to the administration office in 1997.
According to The Tillman County History, Vol. II (1978), the original South Ward Whittier School, a two story brick building that was similar to the first Lowell, was also located at a site different site than the “new” Whittier, built in the mid-1950s.
The history book says, “Whittier School was built in the 500 block between South 12th and South 13th Street in 1911.”
The new Whittier School, a “modern” four classroom layout, was built at a site in the 500 block of South 14th Street.
Next week, we’ll look at a comprehensive history of early school buildings in Frederick.
         Numerous photos of the North Ward Lowell School follow:
Lowell Students circa 1912-1914.
Lowell Students, 1924-25
Legendary Frederick educator Blanche Hall served at teacher and principal at Lowell in 1945.

NOTE: Many past and current “Tillman County Chronicles” columns can be found online at www.tillmancountychronicles.blogspot.com.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at jawynn@cableone.net.


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