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Elementary Building History

If you didn't know, a new Elementary building has been built and the old building is being torn down. Part of the new Elementary building is buit, and part of the old building is still standing.They will eventually tear down the rest of the old building and then finish the new building.

If anyone has pictures of the old Elementary and new buildings please send them and I will post them to this page.

Posted to the Message Board by

Anita Groves Cole

The Elementary School was built during the 1939-1940 school year. It opened in the middle of the year. A.D. Cummings had just become School Superintendent in 1939.

Bill Person '53

The elementary school was built in 1940 and was first occupied in mid fall of 1941. Classes were held in the various churches and my 1st grade met in partitioned-off rooms in the old high school gym. Carol Wilson there should remember, he was double-promoted back then to be a class ahead of my class. As you might recall, that was Pearl Harbor year. We went 8 years to grade school and my class graduated in May 1949 to start to high school that fall. I recall that we had the old swings and slides on a graveled playground just east of the east wing and a tall hedge grew next to the cyclone fence. The old football field was just south of the middle of the elementary school back then. Its been moved twice since then. In 1951, a tornado damaged both the high school and the elementary school buildings. Every window pane was broken from both buildings and the repairs, which were only minor were made that summer. I recall that the tornado hit 5 minutes before the schools let out that Friday afternoon, 3:50PM and school let out at 3:55PM. We had only 2 days of school remaining that term, for test finals, and it was decided to to average the grades and not have the students take final tests. When it was detected and we knew that the tornado was coming, runners were sent from the high school to the grade school to hold all students and not let them go outside. Parents waiting in cars were told to come inside and all the students were directed to gather in the halls away from the doors and windows. If the grade school kids had been permitted to leave, it would have been a terrible disaster. Now, that's a lot more than you asked for which was that the elementary school was built in 1940/1941.

Received by E-Mail

Jim Moore '65

I remember starting to school just a year or two after the tornado. All of the desks were so scarred from the broken glass that we had to put tablets under our writing paper for a smooth writing surface. During cold mornings the boiler system for the radiators wouldn't be strong enough and we would have to move to the cafeteria which had a hot-air blower heater. There was a room in the first grade that also had a hot-air blower heater. The auditorium had blackout curtains from the war that were drawn for movies. When television was first introduced to Olney we would go to the auditorium to watch major news events on a television that was wheeled out onto the stage by the principal, Mr. Sneed. I remember watching the inauguration of President Eisenhower from that television. Of course, there was no air conditioning. It was very hot in the Fall and Spring.

Lanell Wainscott Snow. (Class of 48)

Sourth Ward or Birney was built in 1910. It housed all grades, 1-11. It was situated between Cherry and Spring Creek Streets and the foundation is still intact, also the water fountain. In 1924 they built North Ward or Roosevelt on Oak Street for future use as an Elementary School, but it was used as a High School from l924-27 when the large three story building was put to use. Students had to go to the study hall for assemblies. The PTA apparently did not like the names North Ward and South Ward and changed their names to Roosevelt and Birney. North Ward housed grades 1-6, and South Ward had grades 1-7, so all graduated elementary school at South Ward. In 1940 the Elementary School on Hamilton was started and built by the WPA. Both elementary schools were torn down and students went to school in frame buildings, the basement of the high school and the library was in the Methodist Church for a while. Particians were built in the gym for the grades. The lower grades moved into the west wing which was completed first, then into the east wing when the upper elementary moved into the west wing. The fire escapes were moved from Birney to the elementary playground. The third floor one was deemed to be unsafe and the second floor one is still on the playground. In 1958, The Junior High was built. The present Senior High was moved into in 1973. The Library was built in Cooperation with North Texas State University to house both the community and school Libraries. It was built in 1979. In 2003, The new Hamilton Street Elementary was completed. In 1933, during the depression, the school had no money and either had to issue the teachers paper script (pay later) or close the doors. Teachers selected to be paid in paper. Superintendent Loyd Echols finally got the board to send a percentage of that pay to each teacher. They were all located but one teacher. (Information secured from Clyde Neelley (class of 1929-one time tax accessor-collector) , Loree Strealey Evans Myers(class of 27), Doris Campbell, Hamilton(class of 40) ,Jeanie Walker (class of 77)and from the cornerstones or students of those times. Cornerstone dates and the dates the buildings were completed and put in use may vary.

A train ran behind the 1927 High School. When it passed and we were having assemblies, everything stopped because we could not hear. All students north of the track went to North Ward, those south of the track went to South Ward. The 27 High School had lights suspended on something because the big deal at pep rallies was to make those fixtures swing with the noise.


Please email any stories or history about the your time at OISD to Hank@OlneyAlumni.org