Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

034_Fort Des Moines and Garton Schools


034_Fort Des Moines and Garton 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.

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32 FT. DES MOINES SCHOOL Southeast 2nd and Porter Grades K-3 Dates of construction 1910 1916 1938 (improvements) Site—1.8 acres Prior to 1923, Fort Des Moines was an incorporated town with its own elective officers. Children of the community attended Maple Grove Consolidated School, but lack of transportation facilities led to an election resulting in a decision to levy taxes for a school building to accommodate the pupils of the neighborhood. In 1910 an old one room building was torn down and a two room, one story structure built. In 1914 the roof was raised and two rooms added above. In 1916 rooms were added on the south making a total of six classrooms. This was the building turned over to the Des Moines School District in 1926 when it became a part of that school system. At the time the corporation of Fort Des Moines was dissolved in 1923, the Town Hall (which was on the northwest corner of the present school grounds) was remodeled as a kindergarten room. The building burned on February 26, 1926. From 1923 to 1926 the Fort Des Moines School District continued separately even though the town of Fort Des Moines had been dissolved. As noted above, it joined the Des Moines Public Schools in 1926. In 1938 plans were made to remodel the building. The entrance was changed, a principal's office made and the community room on the top floor was divided into two regular classrooms. The building as it now stands has six classrooms, two on each floor. After third grade all pupils still attend Mitchell School. With the opening of the new Lovejoy School in the fall of 1972 eased the enrollment pressures upon Mitchell. However, it was decided to maintain the Ft. Des Moines attendance center as a feeder unit to Mitchell elementary rather than to discontinue it at this time. This decision was further reinforced in September, 1973, when Maple Grove,School at S. W. 9th and Army Post Road was closed and again the decision was made to retain Ft. Des Moines School as a separate entity. In the mid-1970s Ft. Des Moines School continues as a undepartmentalized program for grades K-4. Since Fort Des Moines and Mitchell schools share the same attendance area, students are transferred between schools in order to provide a more individualized program. There is a joint Fort Des Moines- Mitchell PTAand school advisory council. Pupils from both schools attend joint school assemblies, track and field day, etc. and take frequent school trips together. Also pupils from Fort Des Moines take part in band activities at Mitchell and are represented by the Fort Des Moines - Mitchell student council. Community education classes are offered to students, parents, and other members of the community at both schools. Other programs included in the curriculum of Fort Des Moines Elementary are: Volunteer program Title I Reading and Mathematics Specific Learning Disabilities Speech Therapy Instructional Media Center Career Education Student Tutors Principals of Ft. Des Moines School include: 1926 - 1937 J. O. Mitchell 1954 - 1956 Patience Guthrie 1937 - 1939 C. I. Pease 1956 - 1966 Lydia Rogers 1939 - 1944 Murray Work 1966 - Lawrence Hardy 1944 , 1954 Nelle Cunningham GARTON SCHOOL East 24th and Hull Grades K-6 Dates of construction—1958 1965 (first addition) Site—10.2 acres Garton School was opened m September, 1958. It was built in response to a vast housing area that sprang up in the 1950s. The street department of the City of Des Moines had not paved any streets in this area since they were waiting for the sewer work to be done. The result was that for the first time in decades, the Des Moines Public Schools had to build outside toilets for school children. These outside units indeed added a new educational dimension for "city" children. The toilets were used for several weeks. The memory of these units lingered on and even as late as the 1962 school bond election there were questions by interested citizens "Why Des Moines was building new schools with outside toilets?" Garton streets were not paved for about two and a half years. Each Spring various faculty members, and the principal, would contribute mufflers and other parts beneath their cars to the mud morass that was called a street. The building was named in honor of George Garton who was Secretary to the Board of Education for 27 years. The Garton family was a prominent East Des Moines family.