Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

083_East High School


083_East High School


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.

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East High (Photograph) EAST HIGH SCHOOL East 13th and Walker East High School, like the other Des Moines High schools, has been housed in several different buildings in its long and illustrious history. East High first existed in the Bryant School at East 9th and Grand which was the only schoolhouse in East Des Moines. In simple chronology the dates and buildings are: 1861 - 1877 Bryant School (top floor) East 9th and Grand 1877 - 1891 Webster School (top floor) East 12th and Lyon In 1888 the freshman class of East High was moved back to Bryant due to overcrowding. 1891 - 1911 East High—Built as a senior high with laboratories, audi- torium and cafeteria. East 12th and Court 1911 A "new" East High at 13th and Walker. Additions in 1955 and one slated for 1966. In making formal plans for a high school, the East Des Moines Board of Education has some definite ideas about their aims and goals. They appointed a committee of Honorable James Wright, William Matthews and D. E. Jones to draw up and report a plan or course of study for said school. "We would state that it is the sincere desire and wish of the Board, as this school is now organised upon a solid basis, that the people of East Des Moines be requested to unite with us in sustaining it by generous support. ""We would recommend as a standard of admission to the high school that each applicant be required to spell and read well, and write a fair hand, understand the rules of arithmetic so far as to solve questions in fractions, must understand descriptive geography and be able to define the parts of speech and analyze plain English sentences. 81 "We further recommend that females entering the high school be per mitted (at their own option) to substitute for geometry, trigonometry and survey, drawing, music and other branches suitable for young ladies such as French, German or Latin. "We would further recommend that an examining committee of the board be appointed consisting of not less than three persons, assisted by the principal of said school, to meet all pupils desiring admission to the high school for examination, at such time and place as may hereafter be agreed upon; at which time certificates of admission will be given to all applicants found qualified. "We would beg leave to recommend the use of Easton's Grammar Arithmetic instead of both Ray's Practical and Higher, believing that the pupil will acquire as much knowledge of arithmetic from the study of one sooner than the two. We are, however, at the same time opposed to the frequent change of text books." As Des Moines grew in population and as the public of the late 1800's came to accept education beyond the eighth grade as necessary and im- portant, the enrollment of East High increased. In 1871 the first class graduated—only one member: Miss Elisabeth Mathews who comprised the class roll. The dropout rate of the 1870 era must have been unusually high because there were no more graduates until 1875! As noted above, the high school moved to the third floor of the Webster building in September, 1877. But there were still no laboratories, gymnasium or cafeteria. In one end of the large room they spread mats and hung some rings and they called this the gym. There were three recitation rooms in addition to the large study-gym room at Webster. In 1888 school enrollments required the freshman class to move back to Bryant. In 1890 the high school used still another floor at Webster. Fortunately Webster had the "new" brick annex on the grounds to accommodate their pupils. This annex was known as the Louisa Mae Alcott building which honored a popular author of the day. In the spring of 1891 a new East High was completed containing facili' ties specifically designed as a senior high school. There were laboratories, sewing rooms, cooking rooms, auditorium, cafeteria in addition to recitation rooms. The superintendent of schools had his office on the first floor. The training school for primary teachers was held in the basement. The students were very proud of their new building and marched from Webster led by the freshman class and the principal, Mr. Elmer White. The new unit at East 12th and Court started with about 200 and soon grew to 700. By 1901, only 10 years after the new building was occupied, the first step was taken toward a new structure. The Board of Directors of the East Des Moines School District purchased a square block of ground bounded by East 14th, East 13th, Maple and Walker Streets. The land was purchased from the state of Iowa at a cost of $8,000. On May 21, 1907, the city of Des Moines was consolidated into one school district. The consolidation was finally approved by the Supreme