Central School was built in 1905 and stood on the site of the current elementary school. This 1948 picture of Central High School was taken from the Carterville Comet. Central School was torn down in 1971.
A photo of Carterville Elementary taken in 2006.
This building served as Carterville High School prior to the merge with the Webb City School District. The 1974 cafeteria addition on the far left side of the school was constructed with bricks taken from the old Webb City High School building after they tore it down.
In this photo, Carterville Elementary staff and students are standing in front of the new school building. The picture was taken during the 2007-2008 school year.
Carterville Elementary School in 2011. Notice the addition of four more classrooms along the front of the building.
Before the town of Carterville was incorporated, the area was organized into a country school district. The first school building was constructed in 1875. It was located in the northeastern section of town on the corner of North Pine Street and the road leading to Black's Crossing and was known as the Washington School. "Sim" Bean was the first teacher; his successors were John Jacks and William Thompson. Jennie Crenshaw, an early student of this school, told how the older boys cut wood for the stove and the other students would carry it back to the school. Water was carried in buckets from Stout's spring. The students used one long homemade desk for writing purposes as well as a place to store books on Friday night. The students sat wherever they chose on homemade benches.
School terms were only four or five months. In 1877 Dr. William H. Price opened a private school on Lewis Street. Between school terms, he taught classes there. It was patronized by approximately fifty students and was known as the "pay school." Classes were also taught in an old store building on West Main Street.
The moving of an old brick store building from Medoc to West Main Street provided the first public school for Carterville. It was a two-story structure and was used for all the public meetings. The building was rented by the country school district after the Washington School had been closed by a vote of the people. By this arrangement all country students came to town to attend school. Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson taught classes at this school for approximately two terms. William Thompson was studying for the bar and taught his students many of the lessons he was learning at the time. Mr. Thompson passed the bar exam and began a law practice in Carthage. Mrs. Thompson and Frank Gulick taught the next term at the "Brick." At the close of the school term, the owner of the building, John Burch, decided to use the building for a drug store and again a change was necessary. The voters decided to move the Washington building into town near the corners of Fountain and Main Streets. In 1879 an addition was made the same size of the original building and Mrs. Thompson and Frank Gulick were again employed as teachers. Mr. and Mrs. Lee Cost began the next term but the former resigned his position after teaching two months and Miss Edith Johnson was elected to fill his term. Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Spencer taught the remaining terms at the Washington school.
In 1883 a cyclone struck the town of Oronogo and continued a path of destruction southeast to Carterville destroying the Washington schoolhouse. Work was immediately begun toward the building of a two-story, four-room frame schoolhouse on East Hall Street. This school was named Central school and was completed in October 1883. C. F. Fox with three assistants, Helen Jones, Allie Blackwell and Clara Byers, took charge of the pupils the first year. Henry Phelps and wife, assisted by Allie Blackwell and Clara Byers taught the following terms. Two additional rooms were added on the north side of the building in 1889.
In 1886 the school board formally prescribed a course of study and classified pupils of the high school, and in 1887 the school system was re-organized into a city school district. The first Carterville high school class was graduated in 1887 from a two-year course under the superintendence of Professor J. C. Turk.
In the late 1880's a movement for better schools was started in Carterville. In the spring of 1887 voters passed an $8000 bond issue for the erection of a second school building for the district. This school was erected in 1889 in the northeast section of the city on North Pine Street near the original location of the Washington schoolhouse, and was called North Heights School. The site was chosen by a committee appointed by the board of education and was purchased from Harrison & McGregor for $600. The new brick building contained 6 classrooms, a library and principal's office.
Teachers listed for the 1889-1890 school year are: Frank L. Magoon (principal), Allie Lillibridge, Jennie Wood, Kate M. Jackson, E. H. Daugherty and Nannie Woodard.
Due to the opening of mining land in the southeast part of Carterville, a need for another school building arose. The Central School was becoming overcrowded and school children from the southeast part of town had to walk a great distance to attend classes. T. N. Davey donated a site at the corner of Jefferson and First Streets for the construction of a new school. The voters passed an $8000 bond issue and a new brick school building was completed in 1891. This school was known as the Third Ward Building and also as the Johnstown School. The building was almost identical in appearance to the North Heights building. Johnstown School contained 4 classrooms. It was located upon the top of a hill and had a large playground comprising several acres. The first principal of Johnstown building was Professor J. W. Beddingfield.
Both North Heights and Johnstown Schools served turns as sites for Carterville High School classes during the 1890's and the early 1900's. In 1893 Mr. A. A. Antles was elected superintendent of all the schools. He held the position until 1903. In 1896, Prosperity was included as a fourth school in the Carterville school district but remained a part of it for only two years.
In 1903 Mr. O. N. Waltz was elected superintendent of Carterville public schools. He served three terms. Several principals during this time were Mamie Dodson, Pearl Mericle, Hattie Troxwell, W. H. Bishop and Edith Merker.
By 1904 the eight-room wooden frame Central School building was found to be inadequate for the needs of the growing city. The north addition was cut from the building and both sections of the school were moved from the school grounds onto two separate lots at the east end of Wilson Street to allow for the construction of a new brick schoolhouse. Half-day classes of up to 60 students were held in the two sections of the old frame building until the new school building was completed. Elmer Boyd, a Carterville contractor, had charge of the entire construction of the building. The cost of the building was about $26,000. It was said to be by far the most convenient and best equipped building in Jasper County. The new Central School building was ready for occupancy on January 9, 1905. It contained 12 classrooms, a library, superintendent's office and a large auditorium that seated nearly 650 people. The water closets were outside as was the water shed for drinking water. Two large barrels were filled daily and the tin cups were attached to a chain so they could be dipped into the water barrel without dropping the cup into the barrel or onto the ground. In later years, gas heat, electric lights and water fountains were installed, and restroom facilities were added in the basement. The class of 1906 was the first class to graduate from this school after completing a four-year High School course.
In the early 1920's, the Central School building was the only school being used. After World War I, the mining industry declined in the district and by May 1922, the school enumeration figure had dropped to 617 pupils, less than half the number of students attending in the early 1900's. That summer the school board decided to sell the North Heights building and grounds at a price of $1500, but never found a buyer. That building and the Johnstown building were virtually abandoned and in 1923 the material from both structures were incorporated in a new gymnasium, which was erected east of the Central building. A new junior high school building was built between the new gymnasium and the Central School building in the 1920's. The school system was reorganized from the Carterville school district into Consolidated District No. 91 on May 24, 1928.
The original athletic field was laid out south of the North Heights School about 1910, and about 1921 the field was moved to a pasture near the end of North Kentucky Street. In 1936 the Carterville School District purchased a few acres of land from the American Lead and Zinc Company and constructed a new stadium on that property. The office building of the company was converted into shower and dressing rooms and in later years the building was improved. The field was opened September 25, 1936 with Senator Allen McReynolds of Carthage making the opening address. In 1954 lights were installed through the hard work of the Carterville Board of Education and from donations of many interested persons.
Many Carterville citizens have invested their time and talents to make their school better. In 1947, five ladies took their own pots, pans and silverware to the school for months, cooking meals for the students to show the need for a government lunch program in Carterville. These dedicated women were Mrs. Verna Bivens, Mrs. Mary Lewis, Mrs. Roselyn Close, Mrs. Thelma Sapp and Mrs. Twyla Powell.
By 1948 the old gymnasium no longer adequately served its purpose. The school needed a better and larger center for its athletics and its physical education classes. In 1949 a large, modern gymnasium was built across the street from the Central School building. The old gymnasium was used as an auxiliary school workshop. At this time, the four-room junior high building east of the Central school was used to house the first four grades of elementary pupils.
A new school building was constructed in 1963 east of the Central School. The junior high school and old gymnasium were torn down to make way for the new structure. Two buildings from Camp Crowder in Neosho, Missouri were transferred to the Carterville School District for use at the new school. The district paid 5 percent of the estimated fair market value for the two buildings. One building was used for the lunchroom and the other for the band room.
In 1968 the Carterville School District consolidated with Webb City to form the Webb City R-7 School District. The Carterville School building would be used as an elementary school for all Carterville students with the junior and senior high grades attending classes in Webb City. The old Central School building was razed in 1971 to make way for a new kitchen and lunchroom that was completed in 1974.
In 1988 four classrooms were added on the north side of the Carterville School and a new Kindergarten pod was built in 2000.
In June 2006, Superintendent Ron Lankford and architect Jim Latimer made a recommendation to the School Board to accept a 2.9 million dollar bid from Dalton-Killinger Construction of Joplin for construction of a new elementary school. The old school building would be torn down leaving only the 1988 classroom addition and kindergarten pod that was built in 2000. The Board of Education voted to approve the contract with construction set to begin in 2007.
Update: In 2010, four more classrooms were added to the south side of the new building to expand the district's early childhood program.