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At the Turn of Our First Century

1897: Kansas City, Kansas High School

facade of Kansas City, Kansas High School

According to school records, the Kansas City, Kansas High School was organized in “several unused rooms at the Riverview Elementary School, 7th and Pacific Avenue, and several of the smaller classes convened at the principal's home nearby.” The first graduating class in 1887 consisted of eleven girls.

It was not long before the high school got its second location when it was relocated to the former Palmer Academy building on the southwest corner of North 7th Street and Ann Avenue. President Grover Cleveland had signed the Consolidation Act, which was intended to make education available to everyone through free schools. The Palmer Academy had been a private secondary school which closed due to lack of enrollment, which some believed was caused by the Consolidation Act. Parents no longer wanted to pay for an education that was now had become free to students and families.

facade of old KCK High School

A bond issue was passed in 1897 which funded the erection of a new building for the Kansas City, Kansas High School on the west side of North 9th Street from Minnesota Ave. to State Ave. The building was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by W.W. Rose and included a great peak-roofed tower that dominated the downtown skyline for many years. The construction of the school was completed in 1899 and underwent substantial additions in 1905 and 1910. Space was also provided for a junior college in 1923.

The next expansion came in that same year, when the Kansas City, Kansas High School gymnasium and laboratory building was erected across the street on the southeast corner of 9th and State. There was a tunnel underneath 9th Street that connected the two buildings.

facade of the old KCK High School Gym building

The three-story gym and lab building featured specialized classrooms, such as chemistry and physics laboratories and a home economics department, and indoor athletic facilities that included a spacious two-story gymnasium, swimming pool, and locker rooms with showers. A Junior College program moved into the gym and lab building after the fire and would later expand into the nearby Horace Mann Elementary School. They occupied the facilities until 1968. The high school left the building for good when the new Wyandotte High School opened in 1937.

Click here to view artifacts from the original Kansas City, Kansas High School

1898: Hawthorne

facade of Hawthorne School

Hawthorne Elementary School was constructed in 1898 and named after Nathaniel Hawthorne. The school was located at 1126 Waverly Avenue. There were a number of additions to the structure over the years and an annex was built next to the school in 1909. In 1962, plans for a new school began and the new buildings were completed in 1964. The old Hawthorne school was razed in 1977 and in 2002 the school's name was changed to Caruthers. 

facade of the annex to Hawthorne School


1900s: Kealing School

facade of Kealing School

Originally known as Eugene Field School, Kealing School was constructed in 1900. It was name in honor of Dr. H. T Kealing, former president of Western University. Kealing was a four-room brick school with four more rooms added in 1907. The school operated until 1972, when the building was closed and demolished to make way for the new Banneker Elementary School.

1904: Strawberry Hill, Booker T. Washington School

Strawberry Hill

Brick buildings in historical Strawberry Hill in KCK

Like other cities nationwide, Kansas City, Kansas, also had a handful of traditional ethnic neighborhoods. Strawberry Hill remains one of the most historic neighborhoods in KCK for people of Croatian and Slavic heritage.  

Most Croatian immigrants that came to Kansas City had only four years of education. However, it was necessary to them that their children received a quality education. In addition, their religion was equally essential to their daily lives as well. 

They constructed St. John the Baptist Church on the Hill just west of the area called the Bottoms. The first services were held there in 1902. Once the church was completed, the basement was converted to a temporary school. By 1907, the members had raised enough money to build a new school. This was the first Croatian Catholic school in the United States. By the 1920s, more than 700 Croatian American children attended this school. Another school had to be built in 1925 to accommodate the increase in enrollment. 

Not only was there a school and church, but there was a grocery store, hardware store, and theater within walking district of the Strawberry Hill neighborhood. Although the school was not part of the Kansas City, Kansas public school system, the Strawberry Hill community remains a historical part of the city's diverse community.

Many second, third, and fourth generations of Croatians still live there today. 

Unknown Date

Booker T Washington School

facade of the Booker T. Washington School

Booker T. Washington school served African American students and was at one time located at the corner of Greystone and Cambridge Avenues in the southern part of old Wyandotte, Kansas. It was a room frame structure with a large, pot-bellied stove which was anchored to the wooden floor in the center of the room. There was no plumbing or electricity in the building, therefore, the children had to use two outhouses when the rest room was needed. The actual date of construction and occupancy for this school is not known.

1906: Rosedale High School

Rosedale High School facade

1906: Rosedale High School

Rosedale originated as "The Town of Rosedale, Shawnee Township" in 1872. A new population requirement of 600 people was approved for a city to receive the status of a "City of the Third Class" in Kansas. 

The Judge of the Tenth Judicial District for Wyandotte, Johnson, and Miami Counties, Hiram Stevens, received a petition to recognize Rosdale as a "City of the Third Class." Judge Stevens issued an order to incorporate Rosedale and their first election of officers was held August 28, 1877. The new city was named "The City of Rosedale, Kansas."

Rosedale High School originated in 1884. The school had its first graduating class of seven students just two years later. After 1905, there was a graduating class every year.

The City of Rosedale’s population grew to more than 2,000 residents by 1897. A new school building was constructed for $25,000 in 1906. 

By 1913, like the city, the school’s enrollment also increased to 115 students. Residents voted for an expansion worth $28,000 in 1913, and the east wing was established, including the gymnasium, in the summer of that year. On March 18, 1927, a new school was built for $160,000. The school district demolished the 1906 structure that same year. Seventh graders from other schools were transferred to Rosedale High School which changed to Rosedale Junior-Senior High School in 1927.

1884 – 1927: Rosedale High School

1927 – 1973: Rosedale Jr-Sr High School

1972 – Present: Rosedale Middle School

The City of Rosedale remained an independent city until it was annexed by the City of Kansas City, Kansas in 1922.

1908 - 1910: Argentine High School

Argentine High School facade

Argentine High School first existed as a space in other buildings for a small group of students studying at the high school level. By 1901, there were 88 students, and the Superintendent was asking for more rooms, more books for the library, and more equipment for science instruction.

In 1908, a new Argentine High School was constructed at 22nd and Elmwood (now Ruby) to educate the growing number of high school students in the Argentine area. The nine-room brick building school had an occupancy of six teachers and 100 students. Argentine merged with USD 500 in 1910 after the City of Argentine was annexed by the City of Kansas City, Kansas. In just eight years, enrollment reached 200. A gymnasium and cafeteria were added to accommodate the growing population. F. L. Schlagle served as principal from 1919 to 1924, when he became Superintendent of Schools. By 1935, enrollment had increased to 1,130 students and 29 teachers. The original 1908 building was demolished in 1954, and a new building was constructed in 1955-56.

Argentine football team in 1910

By 1910, Kansas City, Kansas had increased to 40 schools, which included three well organized high schools, and enrollment increased to 5,000 students.

  • Argentine High School
  • Bruce
  • Chelsea
  • Emerson
  • Franklin
  • Lowell
  • Oakland
  • Stanley
  • Waterworks


KCKPS By the Numbers at the Turn of the Century

High School Enrollment in 1910

  • Kansas City, Kansas High School: 1,060
  • Sumner High School: 228
  • Argentine High School: 181

High School Enrollment in 1932

  • Wyandotte High School: 2,288
  • Sumner High School: 672
  • Argentine High School: 329

Next: 1911-1955