This past week we rearranged the research library at the Appanoose County Historical and Coal Mining Museum, and we discovered a tattered document that was written in 1928, entitled “A Brief History of the Centerville Schools.”
In 1928 when this was written, none of the schools that are in use today had been built, so this history tells of all school houses from the beginnings of Centerville until 1928.
It tells of the first school in 1848, a structure of logs that had previously been a hotel, that sat “where Maple crosses Midway.” That would place it just southeast of the Majestic Theater, right in the middle of Maple Street. (Of course Maple Street wasn’t there then.) In 1852, classes were moved into the home of H.C. Haynes, then moved into the second story of a building on the south side of the square that was also used as a courthouse.
The first building constructed for the purpose of a school was a two-story wood frame building built in 1854. It sat on the west side of the 500 block of Haynes Avenue, though during those days, it was North 14th Street. The building was soon outgrown, but with the impending Civil War, building another school was not a priority. Classes were held in the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches until a few years after the war.
In 1868, a large school building was erected where Central School currently sits. Before the carpenter’s tools had been removed, the building burned down as a result of arson. The principal of the school had just been fired for peculiar conduct, and all fingers pointed to him as the culprit. A second building was erected using the same bricks that were left from the first. This building was condemned in 1892 and replaced by another building in 1894, which remained in use until 1935 when it was condemned. The current Central building was dedicated in 1936.
Other schools that existed in 1928 were Garfield, Lincoln (pictured above) and McKinley Schools. Garfield and Lincoln were built in 1882, and McKinley was built in 1903 for the increasing number of “students in the vicinity of the C.B. & Q. tracks.” Garfield and Lincoln were condemned in 1970, but the memories of them live on.
Information submitted by Lisa Eddy, curator, Appanoose County Historical Society, 100 West Maple, Centerville, 856-8040, www.appanoosehistory.com.