Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

014_Names for School Buildings


014_Names for School Buildings


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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Grant Park High School (Photograph) E. 30th and Dean Grand View School (Photograph) E. 12th and Hull Howe School (Photograph) S.E. 7th Street Jefferson SchooL (Photograph) 30th and Park Avenue Names for the school buildings It had been the custom of both the East Des Moines District and the West Des Moines District to name their schools by wards and indeed it appeared that the school directors probably were elected from the various wards within a school district. Finally, in 1880 the East Des Moines board decided that the school buildings should be named and that this would be a more fitting and proper way to refer to them. The first one that they had built at Pennsylvania and Grand was called Bryant after the poet, William Cullen Bryant. The second or seventh ward school was named Curtis. The name Curtis was selected because of the fact that General Curtis had been a somewhat extensive owner of property in the east side. The school constructed at 16th and Capitol was called Lucas after the first governor of Iowa and the building on East 12th and Lyon was called Webster for the famous lexicographer of the nation. A rented room in the southeastern portion of the East Des Moines district, commonly called the "porkhouse" school because it was intended to accommodate the children of the men who were employed in the packing houses, was given the name of Benton in honor of Thomas H. Benton, for several years the head of the State Department of Public Instruction. A picture of Benton School is given below. In the fall of 1880 the board rented a room in the basement of a Swedish church which stood at the corner of Des Moines and E. 2nd Avenue and started a school there. The prevalence of the Swedish nationality in that part of the city at that time was the reason for the board naming the new undertaking after Sweden's author and traveler, Frederica Bremer . East High School East High was started on the top floor of Bryant School at E. 9th and Grand. In chronological order East High has existed as follows: 1861-1877 - Bryant School, top floor, E. 9th and Grand 1877-1891 - Webster School, top floor E. 12th and Lyon 1891-1911 - East High, E. 12th and Court 1911 to present at E. 13th and Walker In 1887 the freshman class of East High was moved back to Bryant due to overcrowding. In 1890 the East Des Moines School Board obtained authority from the voters for the erection of a special high school building to be located in the corner of E. 12th and Court Avenue. East High was dedicated March 5, 1891. This magnificient building is pictured below. The East High building was planned and carried out under the supervision of the most popular superintendent of the East Des Moines District and the one with the longest tenure—Superintendent Amos Hiatt. Superintendent Hiatt assumed his duties in 1885 and continued for almost two decades (1895-1903). The great new building at E. 12th and Court continued to serve as a high school until overcrowding became a real problem. By this time the East Des Moines schools had merged with the West Des Moines schools to form the Des Moines Independent School District and the third and final location of East High School occurred in 1911 when a new East High School was built at E. 13th and Walker. The East Des Moines School District continued to expand through the years with a number of other buildings being built. These are touched on very briefly as follows: In 1882 a large school building was erected on Pine and called Longfellow School. That same year Lucas School was enlarged. In 1884 Emerson School was built at E. 16th and Maple. Benton School at S. E. 12th and Shaw was greatly enlarged to accomodate the students in that area. There was a large addition built for Bremer School at Second and Des Moines. With the continued population in and around the Webster School site a separate three-room school house was erected on the Webster grounds. This was called the Louisa May Allcott building for the popular authoress of the day.