Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools dates back to the first school in Wyandotte County, built in July 1844 at 4th and Nebraska, which was run by John Armstrong of the Wyandot tribe. The current Kansas City, Kansas school district came into existence in 1886 when the cities of Wyandott, Kansas City, and Armourdale consolidated. The original school district consisted of nine schools with an enrollment of 3,643 and 56 teachers. Enrollment and the number of teachers employed continued to grow over the next several decades, and with the annexation of Argentine in 1910, the district expanded to 40 schools and over 5,000 students.
In 1929, Bill Radford, a photographer with the Kansas City Star, photographed all of the buildings belonging to USD 500. In the process, he created a visual record of many buildings that would be demolished over the coming decades as school buildings aged and the district’s enrollment increased. The schools below were constructed between 1888-1929 and have since been torn down or replaced.
To view the entire collection of school photographs, visit the Kansas Room Special Collections page.
Stowe – 2nd St. and Richmond (Virginia) Ave.
Stowe Elementary School was named in honor of author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Built in 1899, Stowe Elementary was designed by architects W. W. Rose & Peterson and served African American students for seven decades until the school was heavily damaged in a fire in 1968. It was razed in 1972, and the land was transferred to the city for a neighborhood park.
Kealing School – Fourth and Parallel
Originally known as Eugene Field School, Kealing School was constructed in 1900. Named 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.
Frances Willard Elementary School – 32nd and Orville Ave.
Constructed in 1914-1915 in the “Cottage Style” by architects Rose and Peterson, this school was named for Puritan author and public speaker Frances Willard. Four KCK elementary schools were built in the Cottage Style (Frances Willard, Parker I, Chelsea I, and Bryant). The old building was in use until 1956 when the new Frances Willard school was built, and the old structure was razed.
Armstrong/Garrison – South 8th St. between Cornell Ave. and Colorado Ave.
Built in 1873, Armstrong was one of the nine original schools when Wyandott, Kansas City and Armourdale were separate cities. Named for Wyandot Chief Silas Armstrong, the name was changed to Garrison in 1926 when African American students from the Garrison school in Armstrong transferred there. The building was demolished in 1956 to make way for the Kansas Turnpike.
Quindaro Elementary School – 27th and Farrow Ave.
Quindaro Elementary began as a one-room schoolhouse, but the building pictured here was constructed in 1906. A number of additions were built over the years, increasing the school’s size from six rooms to 17. The building was razed in 1972 with the opening of the new Quindaro Elementary School.