History of Topeka, Kansas (Part 4)
From: History of Shawnee County, Kansas
and Representative Citizens.
Edited by James L. King, Topeka, Kansas
Richmond & Arnold Publishers
Topeka's Educational Facilities.
If any one thing more than another can be said to have made Topeka famous, it is her magnificent school system, which is hardly surpassed by that of any city in the United States. The founders of Topeka were educated men, some of them coming here directly from college, and after organizing the Topeka Town Association, and reducing the territory to lots, almost their first thought was to provide educational facilities in keeping with the plans they had formed for establishing a large and important city. Early in the month of February, 1856, the association took up a collection for building a school house, and levied an assessment upon its shares for the same purpose, a suitable site having been donated near the corner of Harrison street and Sixth avenue, where the Harrison School now stands. Before the school house could be erected, private schools were opened in convenient locations, so that the school system was practically inaugurated in 1856, before the new city was three months old. In 1857 the New England Emigrant Aid Company erected the first school building. The first direct tax for school purposes was levied in 1862, providing for the running expenses of the schools and for a building fund. The old Harrison street school was the first school building erected at public expense. The first of the school buildings erected in North Topeka was at No. 128 Kansas avenue north, the cost being $1,350. Beginning with the year 1868, the city made liberal appropriations for educational purposes and for additional buildings, the amount for that year being $10,000. In 1869 the sum of $40,000 was appropriated, and buildings commenced at Nos. 50, 52 and 54 Monroe street, and at the southeast corner of Monroe and Fifth - the latter being known as the Lincoln School. The Lincoln School, when completed, cost $55,000. Another school building was erected in 1871 on the southeast corner of Quincy and Gordon streets, North Topeka, at a cost of $28,000. The building occupied by Washburn College, at the northeast corner of loth avenue and Jackson street, was also purchased by the city, for $15,000, and a small building for school use erected on the corner of Quincy and 13th streets. From 1861 to 1871 the sum of $155,000 was spent for buildings and equipment, providing facilities for 2,000 pupils and 28 teachers. During the ensuing to years several new buildings were constructed and most of the old ones enlarged, the value of the public school property at the close of 1880 being over $200,000, and the school population, 4,728.
GROWTH OF SCHOOLS.
The school idea which possessed the founders of the city has retained its hold upon their successors, and at
the close of the year 1904 Topeka had 23 first class public school buildings, valued at $700,000, a school population
of 10,665, an enrollment of 6,437, and employed 211 teachers. The annual cost of conducting the city schools is
$150,000. A model High School building was constructed in 1893 on the northwest corner of Harrison street and Eighth
avenue, at a cost of $85,000, and in 1904 a Manual Training School was completed on the southwest corner of the
same streets, at a cost of $100,000. These institutions are the culmination of the hopes and efforts of Topeka's
progressive and far seeing Board of Education, which is composed of the following members: First Ward, - C. C.
Nicholson and E. E. Miller; Second Ward, - F. E. Mallory and W. H. Wilson; Third Ward, - J. W. Gleed and Edward
Wilder; Fourth Ward, - Jonathan D. Norton and T. F. Garver; Fifth Ward, - C. F. Hardy and D. L. Hoatson; Sixth
Ward, - E. E. Roudebush and L. C. Bailey. F. E. Mallory is president of the board, and T. F. Garver vice president,
and J. E. Stewart, clerk.
In 1858 John Ritchie donated 17o acres of land directly southwest from the city as the site for a college, which was proposed to be established by the Congregational churches of Kansas. The college was located in Topeka in 1858, changed to Lawrence in 1859, and relocated at Topeka in 1860, under the name of Topeka Institute. When the incorporation was effected in 1865, at the close of the war, the name of Lincoln College was substituted. The first building was erected in that year on the northeast corner of loth avenue and Jackson street; at a cost of $8,000, and in the month of January, 1866, the institution was opened with Rev. Samuel D. Bowker as principal, and Professors E. D. Hobart and George H. Collier as assistants. The first president was Rev. H. Q. Butterfield, who was succeeded in 1871 by Rev. Peter MacVicar. The catalogue issued in 1867 gave the number of students as 92, and contained the following names of trustees: Lewis Bodwell, S. D. Storrs, J. D. Liggett, Ira H. Smith, Richard ordley, Harrison Hannahs, John Ritchie, Harvey D. Rice, William E. Bowker, J. W. Fox and Hiram W. Farnsworth.
The name of the institution was changed to Washburn College in 1878, in honor of one of the benefactors, Ichabod
Washburn, of Worcester, Massachusetts, who contributed $25,000 to the endowment fund. A new building was erected
on the permanent site in 1870, at a cost of $60,000, and since that date io other large and substantial buildings
have been erected, the last one - a Carnegie Library - in 1905. The buildings represent a cost of $300,000, and
the campus of 160 acres is one of the most valuable pieces of property in the suburbs of Topeka.
On a large square of 20 acres fronting Capitol Square, west on Ninth street from the Capitol, stands the College
of the Sisters of Bethany, an institution for the education of girls. It was founded as the Episcopal Female Seminary
of Topeka, under a charter from the Territorial Legislature. In 1870 a new charter was granted and in 1872 the
name was changed to "The College of the Sisters of Bethany," the name not referring to any order of Sisters,
but to the scriptural model and example of the two sisters of Bethany - Martha and Mary. The main building is of
the Gothic, rock faced, broken ashlar style. Wolfe Hall and other adjacent buildings are in harmony with the main
structure, and, together with the large park, present a most beautiful appearance. The college is under the general
management of Bishop Frank R. Millspaugli. The course of study embraces not only a primary and preparatory branch,
a scientific and classical branch, but also departments for thorough instruction in vocal and instrumental music,
drawing and painting.
The Topeka Industrial and Educational Institute was organized in May, 1895, following the plan of the Booker T. Washington Institute at Tuskegee. It is located three miles east of the city on a tract of land sufficient in extent to afford facilities for instruction in farming. It is non sectarian and its beneficiaries are the colored youth of Kansas, of both sexes. There are two brick and stone buildings and one frame shop building, the value of the property being $12,000. The enrollment is 140, and 750 pupils have been cared for in the past 10 years. The institution has no endowment, but receives an annual appropriation of $1,500 from the State, in addition to help from other sources. William R. Carter is principal of the school, which is managed by a board of trustees comprised of Joab Mulvane, president; J. B. Larimer, vice president; Robert Stone, secretary; and John M. Wright, treasurer.
A convent of the Sisters of Charity is maintained at No. 723 Jackson street, and in connection therewith is
a Catholic parochial school, which has an average attendance of 225. The convent is in charge of Sister Alberta,
superior, and five Sisters of Charity make their home in the institution. The German Catholic Church also maintains
a school near the corner of Third and VanBuren streets, with accommodations for 200 pupils. Alois Nusang is principal
of the school, and Christine Seitz and Minnie Sonderman, teachers.