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School History

  • 1911 – Previous to 1911 this was a county school on the northwest corner of 32nd and Orville. One room frame. We don’t know the exact date the one-room school was erected. Maude Gray, teacher.
  • In 1911 – Frances Willard came into the Kansas City School system and the original building was a 4-room school, with the Principal’s office was a desk in the middle of the hallway. Principal’s taught 1/2 day in the 6th grade. The old Frances Willard was west of the current building.  Named Frances Willard after “president of greatest ladies organization (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) in history of mankind.”
  • 1913 – April 17: Board of Education purchased land for school.
  • 1914 – May 23: Contract let and work started on August 14.
  • 1909-1925 – Rose/Peterson, Architects – Three bond issues (1910, 1914, 1921) provided funds for the construction of school buildings from this period. Borrowing elements from Jacobethan architecture are five schools designed by Rose and Peterson in the early years of their partnership. Along with the annex building for Prescott Elementary School (1910), this group of structures includes four other elementary schools: Bryant Annex, Chelsea I, Parker I, and Francis Willard, all constructed in 1914-15. These “Cottage Plan” schools, as they were called during the 1914 bond campaign, are consistent in style, floor plan, and design.
  • 1916 – September: New building of four rooms, six grades, occupied. Lois Torrey, Principal. Mavlina Henning and Nelle Longnecker, teachers.
  • First PTA organized. Mrs. J. W. Beazell, first president.
  • 1928 – Patrons to Board of Education to ask for better housing facilities.
  • 1938 – Building made modern.
  • 1955 – January: Plans for new building drawn by Raymond Meyn.
  • March 24: Plans approved. Grounds enlarged from 2 acres to 6 1/4 acres. Old school as four-room, brick and three frame portables. Primary on half-day sessions. Old building to be razed after new building is finished.
  • 1956 – September: New building occupied – one-story modernistic, 11 classrooms and Kindergarten, L-shaped building. Bob Eldridge, contractor.
  • November 13: Dedication of building. Address by Reverend Paul W. Burres, pastor of Wesley Methodist Church . Frank W. Naylor, Jr. presented flag flown over Capitol. Acted for Representative Errett Scrivner.
  • Before 1962 – Removed old building and two portables. “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987
  • 1977 – Became a part of elementary cluster in Court-ordered desegregation plan. Schools in cluster: Douglass, Central, Frances Willard. Pupils in grades 5 and 6 from Frances Willard, Central and Douglass to attend at Douglass. Grade 4 to be at Central, and grade 3 at Frances Willard.
  • 1982 – Grade 6 now in middle school.
  • 1991 – Central Elementary closed to students, who were then sent to M. E. Pearson. Removed from Cluster. Now “paired” with Douglass. Grade 3 at Douglass and Frances Willard. Grades 4 and 5 at Douglass.
  • 2001 – Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Frances Willard was part of Phase I, which was completed in the summer of 2001.