Friday, March 19, 2010

Longmont Then And Now #14: Central School (1878-)

First, if things worked out for Longmont, the property discussed here would have been part of the University of Colorado instead of a grade school. But CU was awarded to Boulder and that's a story for later!

Continuing the look at some early Longmont schools, the Central School is next.

Longmont's school history actually starts early in Longmont history with a school called the "Colony School" on the 500 block of Main Street, western side. While that was being built, the Library Hall building was used as a temporary school with Col. Byron L. Carr (later Colorado Attorney General) holding classes (you've seen Library Hall mentioned here before; it was later moved to the Thompson Park area and is still standing today.) It didn't take long for the Colony School to get overcrowded and by 1873, students moved back to Library Hall.

But actually, the area's school history really starts before the Colony School. Burlington had two schools: a small one in 1865 and a more complete building in 1869 with a bell and blackboards. With Burlington folding into Longmont in 1871 and with the school being situated in a flood-prone area, its use diminished and in 1912 the second Burlington school building was moved to a ranch east of town to serve as a barn. It was still standing up to the year 1994 and you can see a picture of it in a fine Longmont Ledger article by Anne Dyni.

To recap, here's the chronology of the very early Longmont Schools:
  1. Burlington School #1 (1865)
  2. Burlington School #2 (1869)
  3. Library Hall (temporary; 1871-1872)
  4. Colony School (outgrown by 1873)
  5. Library Hall (again)
Back to the mid-1870's. In need of more space than Library Hall could provide, the school board approved the construction of a two-room school house on the property initially allocated for a university, at a cost of $2,725. It was initially called the Franklin School and it opened in 1878. Built in Italianate style according to the book Longmont's History in Architecture, Today by Bullard and Vecchio-Martin, it also had a belfry. This school housed all grades until the High School was built in 1901.

In one of my favorite historic pictures these days from the museum archives, here's the Franklin school in the distance down Fourth Avenue as seen from Main Street, with Library Hall in the rear left. The belfry stands out!

And some more pictures of the school, from an (estimated) 1908 or later. By now, it had been renamed to the Central School. The belfry was removed in 1903 and the school has been expanded beyond its initial two rooms.

Some other early Central School notes:
  • In the year 1900, teachers were paid between $45 and $50 a month with the expectation that some of this was expected to be set aside for their "declining years."

  • Mrs. Edith Murray was principal of Central for an amazing forty years, 1890 to 1930!
The Central School today:

The view from the north:

Central School would get another wing in 1949 which you can see on the right, as viewed from Thompson Park across the street:

The Central School's 100th anniversary was celebrated on April 16, 1978. Next month (April 2010) it will be 132 years old.

A summary of the informal "Longmont: Then and Now" series so far:

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