by Judy Nunn
Taken from the June 2007 Newsletter. Read it HERE
Photo credits: Thank you to Raggie Clites for allowing copies from her many albums. Special thanks to the Silverton Country Historical Museum for allowing copies of several photos and to Carolyn Hutton for her assistance in making the selections.
I thought researching the history of Silverton High School would be a simple matter of putting dates on the pictures. Craig Roessler, SHS current School District Superintendent. allowed me to read a book by Minnie Engeman. She did a fantastic job of documenting all the buildings. The pictures on pages 8 and 9 are from copies on paper, so the reproduction is not the quality I would have liked.
But in order to tell the history of the high school, I felt the grade schools had to be included. The first Silverton public school was a 2-room, 2-story building started in 1862. There were 96 school age children in the district. About 1889 the pupils overflowed the schoolhouse. The building was sold in 1890 and moved to the corner of Park and First Streets. where the building remained until the land was needed for a high school building in 1907. The 2-story building is still standing, located at High and 3rd Streets, and known as the MWA Hall. Many square dances were held there in the late 40’s and early 50’s. The building is owned by the Modern Woodworkers Association. In 1890 a six room school building was completed for fall term. The building was named Emerson by the P.T.A. when they named other school buildings in 1922. In 1907, a six-room high school, later named Washington Irving, was erected. 1913-1914 school year the enrollment was 89 for the high school.
According to Minnie Engeman’s book, “History of Silverton Public Schools” (new edition 1996), Eugene Field was built affronting North Water Street. Eugene Field School was ready for use in May 1922 according to the historical booklets we have in the district office. The first phase consisted of eight classrooms, the gym, library, office, etc. In August of 1921, Emerson School was moved to the corner of First and A Street to make room for the construction of Eugene Field School. Emerson School burned to the ground during Christmas vacation in 1924. In 1915 the new high school was erected on First Street between Park and A Streets, next to the Washington Irving Building. This was known to many as the “new high school”. In 1916 the school system had an enrollment of 642 students. 145 of which were in the high school. The high school on Schlador Street was built in 1939 for grades 9 through 12. 7th and 8th grades were in the 1915 building, with grades kindergarten through 6th grade in Eugene Field.
In 1955 Mark Twain replaced the old Junior High (1915 building). Robert Frost school was built in 1971 for grades four to six. For the school year of 2006-07, Eugene Field held grades Kindergarten through third grades, Robert Frost fourth through sixth grades, Mark Twain seventh through eighth grades. the Pine Street Campus for 9th grade freshmen. and Silverton High School grades 10 through 12. The Washington Irving building and the 1915 building were torn down and the First Christian Church occupies that ground today. In summary, the Washington Irving Building was the first high school. The second one was the 1915 building, which later became the “Junior High” when the Schlador Street high school was built. Who named the schools? Why authors? One theory is that the book “Winkin, Blinkin & Nod” was quite popular when the grade school was built. Eugene Field was the author, so the P.T.A. named the school. Note that all grade schools are named for authors, the high school remains unnamed. Pictures and more information are on page 8 and 9 of this newsletter.
Emerson Public School Silverton, Oregon on “the road of a thousand wonders”. (Photo 411572i credit to Reggie Clites)
also known as the FIRST HIGH SCHOOL -1907 -1915 In 1907, a six room high school was built at First and Park Streets. In 1922 it was named Washington Irving. The building had a basement of stone and walls of brick cemented outside. It was first used as a high school from 1907 to 1915 and from 1915 to 1928 as upper elementary, and from 1928 to 1939 as a junior high school. E.E. Washburn was the superintendent and Mattie Kentner was principal of the new high school. In 1913-1914, the high school enrollment was 89 students.
In 1971 the Washington Irving school and the 1915 building next to it were torn down to make way for the new First Christian Church.
(Photo credit to Silverton Country Historical Museum)
This 1910 photograph has the 1890 Emerson school pictured in the foreground with Washington Irving on the right. Photograph was taken near the intersection of North Water and Park Streets.
The current grade school Eugene Field now stands on this corner. (Photo credit to Silverton Country Historical Museum)
The 1915 high school was built of tile with brick facings, with both white and red pressed brick used for finishing the front. The three-story building measured 91 feet x 72 feet and cost the district $14,000. the tenth through twelfth graders enjoyed a first floor which held a domestic science room., manual training area, cloak rooms, and rest rooms. The second floor contained the superintendent’s office, teachers’ room and six classrooms. the third floor consisted of a main assembly room that seated 110 with a stage at one end, a library, large science laboratory, sewing room and commercial classroom.
Later, the school housed seventh and eight graders. Unfortunately, by 1955 the school was condemned and by 1961 the structure was torn down along with Washington Irving School to make room for the new First Christian Church. (Photo credit to Silverton Country Historical Museum)
1939 the new high school on Schlador Street opened and the junior high school was held in the 1915 building. Washington Irving was no longer used except for selected classes during the next few years. In 1939, the school was traded to the City of Silverton for the athletic field for the new high school at the end of Brown Street. (Photo credit to Raggie Clites.)
Eugene Field was built in 1922 and Emerson burned down in 1924. Note Washington Irving to the to the right, located on First and Park Streets. (photo credit to Ragie Clites)
This block view shows Eugene Field in the foreground with Washington Irving and the 1915 High School next to it on First St. (Photo credit to Silverton Country Historical Museum)