Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

062_Watrous and Willard Schools


062_Watrous and Willard 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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60 Washington school has lost considerable enrollment and by September, 1976 may be under 200 students. Because of these low enrollments they have an Undepartmentalized program. They have a Title III Wisconsin Reading Design Study Skills program for grades 4-6. They participate in a learning disabilities program and have a career education program. Principals who have served at Washington include: 1907 - 1930 1930- 1939 1939- 1942 1942 - 1948 1948- 1956 1956- 1963 Blanche Snook Alice Bradshaw Edna L. E. Peterson N. Feme Thorne Merle Wilson Nelle Cunningham 1963 - 1965 1965 -1967 1967 -1969 1969 - 1971 1971 - 1972 1972- Jerry Mills Kenneth Rankin Snowden Moon Lyla Lynch Robert Langbehen Patrick Moran WATROUS SCHOOL S.W. 14th and Army Post Rd. Grades K-6 Dates of construction- -1954 1957 Site—5.9 acres The Charles L. Watrous Elementary School was named for a prominent early settler of South Des Moines. The growth and development of a vast portion of the city south of the Raccoon River are due largely to his efforts. Mr. Watrous was a graduate of a law college. However his occupation as a resident of south Des Moines was that of a nurseryman. He became known not only nationally but internationally for his work in the area of nursery work. Charles Watrous led an interesting life. He had been born in Cortland County, New York, January, 1837. He enlisted in the civil War and became a captain. He was in the second battle of Bull Run in August, 1862, when he was wounded by three separate bullets. He spent a time convalescing and ultimately was mustered out of the service, "on account of disability from gunshot wounds received in battle," as the honorable discharge read. He returned to the university and passed his law studies, receiving a diploma in 1865. Later that same year, he located in Winchester, Virginia, for the practice of law and served as county attorney for three years. During this time he also received a presidential appointment as one of the United States registering board examiners and administered the oath of allegiance to the United States to all persons "lately in rebellion" who met the requirements and subscribed to the oath. The life of a Northern man in the South immediately following the Civil War was full of interest as well as danger. On several occasions there were attempts made on the lives of various former Union soldiers who were living in the South. It was necessary to go armed on the street after dark and to be careful and allow no one to come up behind, without careful scrutiny. The future of Charles Watrous, a former Northern Union soldier in the South, appeared to have its problems. In the spring of 1869, still suffering from the effects of his wounds, he felt obliged because of medical advice to forego the practice of law and to work out in the open air. He came to Des Moines and purchased twenty acres of land and then began the nursery business which he followed fpr the rest of his life. He was the first in Des Moines to carry on the nursery business in a commercial way—that is by selling his products by agents and filling the orders by railroad shipments. All others had depended upon sales at the nursery. By additional purchases of land from time to time he expended his nursery to an area of 145 acres in south Des Moines. Thus, with the additional land rented from time to time in the neighborhood he soon had a large business employing 75 to 100 salesmen. He also owned other pieces of property in the city. In 1904 he was commissioned by the U.S. Agricultural Department to visit the Philippines and other Asian countries to study horticultural conditions and make inquiries about the introduction of certain fruits into the United States. Charles Watrous died in 1916 and was buried in the Woodland Cemetery here in Des Moines. In the mid-1970s the Watrous student population is holding fairly firm and not declining as rapidly as in other sections of the city. The principal and staff have introduced a unique educational program at Watrous which includes: Plan A, first and second grades, departmentalized, nongraded reading. Plan B, third and fourth grades, departmentalized, nongraded reading. Plan C, Fifth and sixth grades, departmentalized, nongraded reading. They have the Title III Wisconsin Design Reading Management system. They have rooms for the educable mentally retarded pupils. Principals Who have administered Watrous School are: 1954 - 1957 Nelle Cunningham 1969 - 1972 Larry Martindale 1957 - 1966 Dorris Morgan 1972 - Kenneth Hook 1966 - 1969 Lucile Truitt WILLARD SCHOOL East 30th and Dean Grades K-6 Dates of construction—1917 One-seventh 1925 Six-sevenths Site—4.2 acres Originally the school for this area was known as the Grant Park School. In the 1907 school merger, Grant Park High School was discontinued and the pupils transferred to East High. At some point the building was renamed