Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

013_First Building for East High


013_First Building for East High


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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Page 11 First Building for East High The East Des Moines School District remained without a separate schoolhouse of its own until the year 1866. For many years the interested citizens of East Des Moines were active in trying to get the taxpayers to vote bond money with which to build a school house, however, they did . not have good response from the voters. It is important to recall that in those days school districts had to tax themselves directly on an annual budget for the money with which to construct school houses. There was no authority or way for raising money by issuance of bonds. Thus a district that wanted anything in the way of a good-sized school building had to tax themselves for a series of years and let the funds accumulate for that purpose. In the East Des Moines district there was a constant struggle year after year to get the money for a school house, however, the voting of one year's tax gave no assurance that another time the people would feel the same way. Bryant School at Pennsylvania and Grand Avenue was the first school built in East Des Moines. A picture of this building is given below. When Bryant School was completed it was said to be the largest and finest school house in the western half of the state. In 1975 it is difficult to visualize the problems that they had in even securing materials in Des Moines for this school building. The lumber had to be hauled by horse- drawn wagon from Nevada, Iowa, since that was the nearest railroad shipping point from which to secure the materials. Similarly, cement and other items of this nature, nails and anything to be used in construction, that came by railroad from the East or from other points, had to be left in Nevada, and then laborously and slowly hauled by teams to the building sites. The records show that before Bryant was completed, however, that the Des Moines Valley Road had begun to run trains into Des Moines. This small footnote in history points up the value and importance of railroad transportation in the last century. It was a vital link to the outside world and greatly affected the cost of materials used in construction as well as items used in everyday living. The 1881 annual report of the Board of Trade gave the following figures in the increase of population in Des Moines: 1846 127 inhabitants 1870 12,035 1850 502 1875 15,782 1860 3,965 1880 22,696 1865 5,650 1881 25,397 From these statistics it can be seen that there would be a tremendous growth in the number of school population of students. Admittedly from the records we know that there was not a great deal of pressure for students to attend school for any great length of time, but it was becoming more and more important to serve those youngsters in those families who demanded and wanted education. Thus the East Des Moines schools began to grow and the need for more buildings became apparent. In 1874 the East Des Moines District built a second school at the corner of East Sixth and Raccoon with four rooms. It was greatly enlarged afterwards to serve the students there. This building incidently was utilized until the 1950*8 when Dunlap School was built at Southeast 11th and Railroad Streets to serve the students in the southeast area. In 1875 they built Lucas School at East 16th and Capitol. In 1877 the demands of the school population of the east side became so urgent that the board asked the district to authorize a loan of $30,000 for the construction of a school at the corner of E. 12th and Lyon. This proposal carried. Forest Home School (Photograph) Forest and Gordon Avenue Benjamin Franklin School (Photograph) 12 th and Crocker Frisbie School (Photograph) 60th and Muskogee Ulysses S. Grant School (Photograph) 23rd and Cottage Grove