Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

069_Callanan and Franklin Junior High Schools


069_Callanan and Franklin Junior High Schools


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

File Name



67 The year after James Callanan's death, in 1906, Dr. Hill purchased Inglebrae with the intention of making it into a sanitarium or retreat for persons with temporary mental illness. This was accomplished and the main home and carriage house comprise what is now known as Hill's Retreat. Dr Hill later sold the north half and part of the west end of the estate. In 1920, the people of Des Moines voted a bond issue to build five new junior high schools, In 1921, for $55,000, they purchased the north 20 acres of the estate from Mr. J. C. Doolittle. Five years later, m 1926, plans were completed for a junior high to be built on the west end of this property, and in March, 1928, this new school- was dedicated under the name—James Callanan Junior High School. Administrators who have served at Callanan are listed below: Callanan opened February 1, 1928 with Mr. R. E. Smith as principal and Mrs. Miriam Woolson Brooks as vice-principal. The staff consisted of 18 teachers and an office assistant. The enrollment was 489 in junior high and 95 in elementary. Callanan Junior High School is having the usual decline in enrollment for the mid-1970's, with enrollment at 500-600 students. The changing socioeconomic status of the community has resulted in its being classified as a Title I school and thus is eligible for certain special funding. For example, they have Title I reading, as well as the New Horizons Program. They have worked diligently in the Alliance of Business with the American Republic Insurance Company. This company has financed two week-long ecology projects in which students became involved in environmental projects around the city and state. The first ecology week was held in 1971 and the second in 1974. They were one of the pioneers in this cooperative movement with business and industry. They also inaugurated the SPELL Program (Student Prescriptive Educational Learning Laboratories) and were an early participant in the World of Manufacturing and World of Work programs. They have an innovative Title III Career Interest Student Survey Program. The campus has changed in some ways; in September 1973 a new school was opened for mentally retarded students; Ruby Van Meter School was built on the southeast portion of the original Callanan estate. Between the three schools now, Callanan-Van Meter-Smouse, an outdoor classroom and nature trail are being developed. Over 100 trees have been planted in this area by Callanan students, along with plantings of other plants native to Iowa. This project was started during the ecology week in 1974 and is being completed by science classes. A mini-class program has functioned for three years; seventh and eighth grade students are exposed to 42 different two-week units in place of the normal study hall situation. Callanan has always been most active in community relations work. Over fifty parent volunteers serve in the building in various capacities. In 1971 Callanan won the Volunteer Bureau Award. These plus other programs point up the interest of the staff of adapting educatational programs to the interests, abilities, and needs of their student body. List of Principals: 1928-1939 C. F. Schropp 1939-1942 Walter Trott 1942 -1954 Delmer Battrick 1954-1961 Victor Mastin February 1961 to June, 1961 Harry Dickson (Acting) 1961-1969 Warren W. Nixon 1969- PaulDevin Franklin Jr. High (Photograph) FRANKLIN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL 48th and Franklin Grades 7, 8, 9 Franklin Junior High School was opened January, 1951. This building carries the name of a famous American, Benjamin Franklin. In January, 1951, the first classes consisted of grades 2, 4, 7, and 8, with an enrollment of 467. September, 1953, was the first time that Franklin housed grades 7, 8, and 9 exclusively. Being a part of a rapidly growing section of Des Moines, this fine new building with a capacity of almost 1,000 students was quickly filled to capacity and then overflowing by the mid-1950's. This necessitated an addition in 1957 of eight classrooms, science room, art room, wood shop, metal shop, drafting room and library. This addition raised the capacity to approximately 1,400 students.