By: Jean Thibeau J Anette Buck Leta Elem
Richmond School was once referred to as “The Ivy Tower”. It must have been a beautiful sight with the red brick making itself known in some spots. The schoolhouse was built in the near middle of a block, surround ed by Mill, 24th, and Simpson Streets and facing Richmond Avenue. The sidewalk lead- ing to the main entrance was bordered by a rosebed. The front was in lawn, and on either side of the grounds was a play area. Today, 1957, the school takes over the north play ground area.
The latest addition to the building on the Mill street side, is mostly in window glass, with red brick trim. The 24th street side finds the first addition to the school with many windows and glass brick. The playporch area does not show from the street. but it leads out from the main building to two of the present first grade rooms. The main entrance to the school was changed in 1950. The rosebeds and the ivy have long since disappeared. The building is surrounded by shrubbery typical of the many varieties seen around the Salem area. The original building was three stories high; the first floor was considered the basement. The two additions are only one story, and the basement area was then considered as part of the first floor. The principals office was changed from a small office, which was located over the entrance stairway, to the south side of the new main entrance. The building today has 20 classrooms in use by 18 teachers, principal, a secretary, two custodians, and three cooks. An area in the city of Salem was called the Richmond Addition back in the nineteen- hundreds.
By 1910 the Salem School Board decided that the school system should have a school in that section of the city. Thus, begins the history of Richmond School, District 24J, Marion County, Salem, Oregon. In 1910 it was recommended to the Board that plans being made for the 1911-12 school year include accommodations for relieving class loads. The best solution pro’- posed was the erection of two 4- room buildings, one on the site owned by the district in the Highland Addition, and the other on a site to be selected south of State Street and east of 21st. Street. The Board recommended the building of one 8-room schoolhouse in Richmond Addition and one on Block 8, Highland Addition, both to be modeled after the Garfield and Englewood Schools with provisions for kindergarten, if required. Buildings would cost at least $40, 000 and heating plants, $5, 000. The first payment of the Richmond block was $500.
The first type of heating used at Richmond was wood. Records showed a purchase from the Sear Wood Company for 50 cords of wood at $2. 57 a cord to be delivered to Rich mood. The school was opened Monday, September 23, 1912. The first teaching staff included Christabel Jowett, Catherine Pooler, Elsie White, Frances W. Pohle, and H.F. Durham. In June, 1913, W. E. Moses was elected as principal of Richmond School for ten months at a salary of $100 per month. Most teacher salaries averaged around $75 a month. The first janitor of Richmond was C. H. Green, assigned in 1912. Mr. J. R. Bull was hired in 1914 as janitor at $60 a month.
The seventh and eighth grades were removed from the elementary schools around 1915. The change left these rooms at Richmond vacant, and they were used for an auditorium. The furniture of the classroom during this period included old type desks screwed to wooden floors. They varied in size with portable foot rests for very small children. Each desk had an inkwell. Pendulum clocks were used. The cloak room was at the side of each room.
The windows were usually decorated with pupil art work. The north side of the basement was assigned to the girls and the south side to the boys. Each had a playroom about the size of a classroom. The east side of the basement was the furnace room. There were four classrooms on the first floor; the principals office was over the front stairs. There were two south rooms on the second floor. The north end was one big room which was divided later in 1921-22 to make two rooms. Also, there was a small room over the office area which was used as a health room. The building was heated by a wood furnace.
The boys’ playground was always stacked with long slab wood piles. It is believed that there was a floor heater in the lower hall which was handy for drying wet clothing. Gym classes were held in the basement; there was a cement floor with benches around the walls. In the Southwest corner there was an old Victrola used for folk dancing. We are still teaching one of the folk dances that was taught then, “Dance of Greeting. ” Although the change has been gradual, classrooms of today exhibit a sharp contrast to the rooms of yesterday.
We use blond tables and chairs. We have sinks and drinks ing fountains in each room, and inter-communication system, acoustical tiles, indirect lighting, and electric IBM clocks. Ink wells are not necessary now since ball point pens are used. The floors are covered with tile. Today we dance in the cafeteria. Comments from past pupils reveal they enjoyed watching the process of putting the long slabs of wood into the furnace. They recalled feeling sorry for the janitor whose job was to cut the long slabs with a sledge hammer and wedge. It was also mentioned that the janitor had the job of ringing a hand bell to call the children to their classrooms. It was said that Miss Fisher was always at the door to meet them and to see that they marched up the stairs in a proper manner. It was also the janitor’s duty each day to check the temperature of each room. The average classroom load during these early years was around 30 and up to as high as 54.
Today they try to give us a lighter load. Each grade level had A and B classes, with promotion or failure between these two classes. There were no graduation exercises then or now. , Throughout the years many systems of report cards have been used. A copy of report card issued in 1914.15 had two semesters of three six-week periods in each. The grading was with 1, 2, 3, and 4, being failure. Today the primary grades use a plus for satisfactory or a check to indicate that improvement is needed. The upper grades use A for “excellent”, S for “satisfactory”, and N for “needs improvement. “
There was one teacher for each grade, and the teachers within the ‘building taught the art, music, and physical education activities. Apparently this was an exchange among the teachers. Classes were conducted under such titles as geography, citizen- ship, drawing, physiology, conduct, and deportment. For noontime play children played outside in good weather, with the girls on one side and the boys on the other. In bad weather the children played in the basement, boys on one side and girls on the other. However, children were encouraged to eat at home and needed a reasonable excuse to bring lunches to school. Children had to live more than nine blocks from school to bring a lunch. No hot lunches for children were served until 1935. The basement room was used as a lunch room, and teachers took turns in supervising.
When the room was too crowded, children ate in their own rooms or with teachers who had brought their lunches. A hot plate was at the school for teachers who wished to cook their lunches. When hot lunches were introduced, mothers volunteered to prepared and serve the food. Hot plates were used. The P. T. A. employed the services of the Works Progress Administration, through action of the school board, to serve hot lunches without cost to the district by making use of W. P.A. labor and Federal Surplus Commodities. A special P. T.A. meeting was called to consider problems of serving hot lunches at school in 1938, Mrs. Leah Smith, who was employed between 1937-43,was among those working with the lunch program. She states that the lunches were served in the basement, cafeteria style. Mothers of the children and the janitor helped with the beginning lunch programs.
Today, 1957, we have a well-equipped kitchen and a large room with ten tables in .which to serve the children, These tables are folded into the walls when they are not used for programs seating or eating the noon lunch. This program is self- supported with federal commodities being used in many in- stances. Around 300 children are served daily. At the present time all children are encouraged to participate in the lunch program. The children from the fourth through the sixth grades help with the many kitchen duties during the lunch hours. The dishwashing equipment was inadequate in 1954, and at a cost of $300 the dish- washing area was enlarged. The library, back in the 1915 era, consisted of books in the principals office and 3 few books on shelves in the classrooms. The first library was in a small room on the third floor. This arrangement was made after Miss Marjorie Chester became Supervisor of Instructional Material in 1946. After the 1951 building addition the library was moved to a classroom on the second floor, where it is now located.
Classes in band and orchestra are relatively new. There was a rhythm band at one time. Red and white capes and berets were used in 1936-37. A few of these are still among stage properties at Richmond School. One Arbor DaY some trees were transplanted with the aid of Miss Cochrane. Sixth grade boys planted trees near the railroad tracks, but the trees did not survive. In 1915 the P. T.A. requested that some trees be planted. Reports are that one there were pine trees, a cedar tree, a cluster of small oak trees, and several nut trees on the school grounds. Today we have 17 trees around the school block. There were four fir trees planted southwest of the building. The names of two soldiers who were killed in World War 1 were placed in bottles, and the bottles were placed in tin cans and buried deep under the fir trees. These two boys lived on Richmond Avenue. As classrooms were needed, the auditorium rooms were used. The assembly pro- grams were held in the second floor hallway, and the children sat on the steps or in chairs along the wall.
The children participated in Christmas programs, May Day Festivals, music festivals, assembly programs, a triangle orchestra, celebration of Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, Memorial Day, and Arbor Day. The May Day program, which was held outside, included a queen and king, costumes, and the May pole. Health pageant programs were given only by honor students from the primary and ire mediate grades. Residents relate that houses have changed around Richmond School, and the streets I have been paved. New housing has mushroomed to the south of Richmond.
There were wooden sidewalks which have since been replaced by cement sidewalks. State Street was the only paved street near the school. Although bridges are being construct’- ed of cement, there still are a few wooden bridges crossing Mill Creek in the Richmond district. 1957 will record a new bridge on South 25th. Street. L Mill Creek runs within two blocks of Richmond School. It used to flood up to eight inches all the way to Trade Street on 24th Street and Richmond Avenue. Miss Anna Fisher was one of Richmond’s early principals, working for $950 during the school year of 1915-16. Records show that she was a second grade teacher along with principal ship duties. Miss Fisher is said to have ridden a bicycle to school Minor repairs during the 1915-20 period were due to trouble with the heating plant and needed roof repair. During 1919 the Improvement Club of Richmond School District was granted a request to hold their meeting at the school building.
The 1923 bond issue election for improvement of Richmond and other schools was passed, Part of the upkeep of the building in 1924 was the staining of the woodwork of the interior, staining and varnishing teacher’s desks, staining and varnishing office chairs installing washable baseboards in both basements and applying washable paint around the basins. Records show that Charles Goveley was the custodian. He retired in 1937 to be replaced by Walter Bigger staff. In 1938 the board was requested to provide inside bicycle storage space for the children. A door was cut through the partition in what is now Room 7, near the position of the present sink facilities. Richmond now has a bicycle shed with extra racks placed around the shed. This shed was built in 1945.
1938 saw Miss Anna Fisher and Miss Adora Cochrane retire from Richmond’s teaching staff; both had served at this school since at least 1916. Lloyd Girod was transferred from the Leslie staff to the principalship at Richmond in November of 1938. He retained this position until he was given a military leave of absence to serve with the Navy in February of 1943. Walter Snyder, then curriculum director within the Salem School system, acted as building principal for the remainder of that school year. In May of the same year J. Parker Lineberry was employed on a permanent substitute basis for principal ship at Richmond. After the war Mr. Girod returned, and he resigned as principal in 1946. Our present principal, Miss Gilles, assumed duties at this time. It was interesting to note that Richmond received aid from National Youth Administration and W. P. A, a.s did many schools during the year of the “initial aid. ” An N. Y. A. project beginning in 1940 was to cut the grass to level the grounds. Termination of this project is not known. A religious program was carried on at the schools during 1940-42. Leona Strong was in charge of the program at Richmond.
In 1943 approximately $250 worth of equipment was purchased for installation of equipment for the library. A furnace was constructed and installed in July of 1944. Richmond has grown continuously, sometimes expanding faster than additions could be made. In 1944 arrangements were made to transfer students from overload’- ed grades to Washington and Bush Schools. In 1948 the P. T. A. had its first booth at the Oregon=State Fair. During this year, the P. T. A. bought three radio-phonograph combination sets to be used in connection with health, recreation, and music appreciation programs. Our Amparo-Movie projector and Opaque projector were purchased by the P. T. A. in 1946-47, from funds raised through their carnivals.
In December, 1948 assessment of $969. 38 for paving Mill Street at Richmond School from 23rd to 24th streets was ordered paid from the construction fund. Sidney Hay slip was architect for the additions planned for Englewood, McKinley, and Richmond Schools. Light fixtures for Richmond were included in the plans. In addition to principalship for Richmond School, Miss -Gilles was recommended by Superintendent Bennett in 1948, to also serve as principal of Pringle School. This was ended after a two-year period and the tremendous increase of school population at Richmond. The September, 1949, enrollment adjustments made it necessary to construct classrooms in the basement playrooms at Richmond School. A covered play area was to be constructed, The last basement playroom was to be used as a classroom. Several sixth graders were transferred from Richmond to Bush School to ease the class loads. In 1949, the north and south boundary line between Bush and Richmond was changed from 17th street to include both sides of 17th street in the Richmond District. The alterations to Richmond were to be completed by September of 1950 and the heating plant changed to an oil-fired steam system to accommodate the present building and further additions to the building. Fred L. Bernardi was awarded the contract for these alterations.
Plans to complete a four’-room addition to Richmond by the school year, 1951, were made. The addition was to the east side of the school. Glass brick for the upper window space was used. “Island” cabinets were a part of the interior plans for each room. Two of the rooms facing the playporch have individual lavatories. In 1953 there was a delay in the opening of school so that the bean industry could be saved. Continued increase in enrollment at Richmond made it necessary to add four new rooms. This addition was made on the north side in 1955. Hay slip and Tuft were the architects for this addition. Robert D. Morrow had the contract for $58, 675. SchoOl enrollment at this time, April, 1957, is 460. Since Richmond School was erected, the enrollment, teaching staff and maintenance had more than tripled. Curriculum areas have changed in philosophy and technique; the school’s appearance is — greatly modified. Many, many changes have occurred in a time span of approximately 45 years at Richmond School. Richmond today is proud of its beginning, its progression, its growth, and its present status. But most of all, it’s proud of the groups and groups of youngsters who make the citizens of today and tomorrow and had their early training in Richmond School. The School song written by Wilma Osborn, echoes through the halls I l I I “Richmond School is my school. 1111 stand by her today. 5 We have such happy times here, both in our work and play. The teachers are so nice, the children are, too.` We’ll all do our best, and to our school be true. So we will boost for Richmond, for Richmond Grade School.