“Agitation for a New School Building”

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Why was Lincoln School built in 1884 as “the pride of Newton” replaced after only 32 years of use? This question was recently posed on our Facebook page.  So, we did a little digging.

Agitation for a new building for the Lincoln School had started as early as 1912. In the years that followed, parents formed a booster group that raised money and awareness for the school. At the May 1916 meeting of the Board of Education a “large petition setting forth the needs of a new building . . . and asking that some action be taken” was presented by a committee composed of  booster parents. Following the presentation the Board President appointed a committee “to take up the matter of the new building and report their findings.”

“The Pride of Newton”

The Lincoln School was built in 1884 in what at the time was the center of the Second Ward school district.  A school was located there to accommodate the pupils from south of the track as well as west of Main street. Unlike the other wood frame grade schools, the new Lincoln School was a solid brick structure. At the time, “it was the pride of Newton.”

Lincoln School, Newton, Ks, 1884.


“Agitation for New School Building”

By 1916, conditions around the building has changed. Another factor was increased air pollution. The nearby roundhouse only housed two engines in 1884 so “the smoke nuisance was unknown.”  Over the years, the increased train related industry caused more smoke in the area. In addition, the neighborhood around the school had also changed.  In 1884, the homes around the school “were considered some of the very nicest ones in town.” By 1916, “conditions have changed.”  The building was no longer at the center of the the  2nd Ward and children were required to walk “great distances” to get to school.  Finally, the building was no longer “adequate for the size of school, causing congestion.” Increasing enrollments required class rooms with partitions beginning in 1913. The group believed that a new building was the only “satisfactory way” to address these needs.

“School Board Favors Building”

At the June 1916 meeting, the School Board passed a  resolution “favoring a new building and site on west side.” The new grade school would be located  at the south east corner of the block on Ash & 6th.

Lincoln School, 400 W. 6th, Newton, Ks ca. 1920.

The architects for the project were Samuel Greenebaum and Arthur Hardy.  Greenebaum , a Newton native, graduated from  Newton High School in 1904. He, along with business partner Hardy, designed five buildings in Newton, including Lincoln Grade School.

“The citizens may be justly proud”

The new Lincoln School building opened for the 1917 -1918 school year on September 17, 1917. With enough space for all grades, it was expected “that the capacity of the new building will relieve congested conditions all over the city.”

Lincoln teachers, ca. 1920s.

A new focus in education was on hands on training for 7th and 8th grades. The new structure had space specific for this purpose. The editor of the Evening Kansan Republican noted that “the new building is splendidly equipped to do manual training and domestic art and science.”    

Today, the Lincoln School building is one of two buildings designed by Greenebaum and Hardy that remain in Newton. The former school serves as an apartment building, Lincoln Park Apartments.

The other Greenebaum building is the Railroad Savings & Loan Building – today known as the 500 Main Building on Newton’s Main.


  • Evening Kansan Republican: 3 October 1911,  19 June 1913, 27 October 1915, 4 April 1916, 3 May 1916, 7 June 1916, 4 October 1916, 27 December 1916, 24 July 1917, 1 September 1917, 17 September 1917,  28 March 1918.
  • “Lincoln School” Newton/North Newton Register of Historic Places. http://www.newtonkansas.com/Home/Components/FacilityDirectory/FacilityDirectory/79/642

“An Educational Center”

Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Newton Comes to the Front as an Educational Center

In 1888, Newton schools experienced a building boom. The 2nd Ward School (Lincoln) had been in use since 1884 and likely received some upgrades when the 1st Ward School (Cooper) and 3rd Ward School(McKinley) were constructed in 1888.

Newton Daily Republican, 26 August 1888.

2nd Ward School, (later Lincoln)

3nd Ward School, (later McKinley)

First Ward School (later Cooper)

The Newton Daily Republican noted that “the time is to be hoped for when every young person in Newton and Harvey county will aspire to be a graduate of the High School.”

The editors praised those involved in the decision to build two new schools for the 1st & 3rd Wards and the contractors that completed the projects.

“Newton has two school buildings as fine as the state affords.  They will long bear witness to the good qualities of the people who provided the wherewithal, and to the faithfulness of the Board of Education who made so judicious use of public funds.”

The editor had every confidence that the schools would all be ready for students “the first morning of October just as the town clock is on the stroke of nine.”

Newton High School, 7th & Oak 1889-1913, also known as the “First Ward School”, renamed Cooper School, 1913-1938.

Photo is taken from the Courthouse tower looking east/southeast – Cooper School is on the left indicated with a blue arrow. Ca. 1920s.

J. W. Cooper was principal until 1888 then promoted to Superintendent of schools and Cooper Grade School was named in his honor.

Discussions regarding the Cooper School building took place as early as 1912 in connection with the construction of a new high school.

Evening Kansan Republican, 5 January 1912, p. 1.

South Side of Cooper Elementary, ca. 1939.

West side of Cooper Grade School, 1938. Demolition has begun.

Despite challenges the Cooper School remained in use until 1938,  when a new building was constructed. A new McKinley School building on east 1st and Pine was also constructed at the same time.

Pamphlet of the new Cooper Grade School, ca. 1939, Lorentz Schmidt, Wichita, Architect.

Building the new Cooper School, 1938.

Cooper Grade School Placing the Cornerstone ceremony on 24 April 1938.

Cooper Grade School, construction, 1938, at the intersection of 8th & Oak. Old building is visible at the right edge of photo.

Postcard of Cooper Grade School, ca. 1940s


Cooper Grade School, E. 8th & Oak, Newton, Ks, 1947.

The Cooper Early Education Center in 2012.

Cooper Early Education Center, E. 7th & Oak, Newton, Ks, 2012.


  • Newton Daily Republican: 28 January 1888, 8 February 1888, 26 August 1888,  26 July 1889, 31 July 1889.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 10 June 1899, 30 July 1900, 27 April 1901, 18 July 1907, 5 January 1912, 12 January 1912, 10 July 1914.

“Proud to Be a Charger!”

Did you recognize the Burrton Charger from the Burrton High School?

Burrton High School, 2018.

Burrton High School gym, January 2018.

First Burrton school buildings were wood frame.  A brick structure built in 1885 with the first commencement held in 1886.

Burrton School buildings, ca. 1915, Burrton, Ks,

A new high school was completed in 1976.

Burrton High School, January 2018.


  • Burrton, Kansas Centennial Booklet: 1873-1973, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.