(From Frankfort Area Historical Society, 1978)
One of the goals of parents, in any age, is the education of their children. With
the development of West Frankfort after the railroad came, one of the
first public buildings to be erected was the school building.
In 1896 or 1897 the first school
building, called East Side School, District 72, was built in "West Town"
at the corner of North Jefferson and East Main Streets. At
First, the East Side School was a two story, two-room frame building,
to which an addition created an L-shaped building, adding two more
rooms. Mr. E.E. McCollum was an early teacher and principal.
In 1905, the West Side School was opened on the northwest corner of North Logan and West Poplar Streets. In
1914, this school was replaced by a large brick school at 700 West Main
Street called West Side School until later changed to Edwards School
after Governor Ninian Edwards. In 1911, Joiner School was built at 903 West St. Louis Street on land donated by Charles Joiner. Joiner School was in a separate school district from the city schools.
In 1911, Mr. H. Atwood was hired to organize a high school at the East Side School. He first organized a two-year high school and later the third and fourth years were added. Needing
more space, the high school was moved across Main Street to the second
floor of the Burgess Building at 228 East Main Street. The Classes were divided with cloth partitions.
In 1912, the new modern brick building
for Central School was opened just north of the East Side School, and
the high school and all grades were moved to Central School. The old school was moved away, leaving the playground for Central School. In 1913, the first graduating class consisted of one graduate, Miss Ruby Durst (Burke). The
1914 graduating class consisted of Irene McNamar (Boughers), Bernard
Hampton, Verda Griffin (Wentworth), and Nell Karnes (McCollum). This class put out the first year book.
In 1919, Mr. C.A. Waller was hired as City School Superintendent, a position he continued to hold for twenty-nine years. In
1920, the high school was moved to the First Baptist Church Annex for a
year while a new high school building was under construction. In 1921, the modern, beautiful Frankfort Community High School building was dedicated. It is located in the 600 block of East Main Street on land purchased from Maud Dimmick Woods for $6,800.00. This land had previously been used for the football team which Mr. Waller organized.
In 1919, the elementary school systems
of Frankfort Heights No 68. and West Frankfort No. 108 was consolidated
and became District No. 168. In 1919 also, Franklin School, a new elementary school opened in the 700 block of East St. Louis Street. In 1926, Lincoln Elementary School was built at 1300 East Elm Street, on property purchased from St. John's Catholic Church.
St. John's Parochial School was
organized in 1921 and first taught by the Franciscan Sisters in the
convent at 702 East Poplar Street. In 1926, it was moved to new stucco school building just east of the Catholic Church on East Main Street. Now, in the spring of 1978, St. John's School has moved into a modern brick building at 704 East Poplar Street.
In the middle 1950's, the Illinois
Department of Education encouraged consolidation of small rural schools
with larger city school systems for more efficiency. In 1956, Garrett's Prairie, Walltown, Weaver, and Moore Schools were annexed to District No. 168. Pershing and Townmount Schools joined in 1957. In 1959, Joiner School was annexed and the school building was torn down in 1976. On December 8, 1958, Orient School System No. 102 was annexed and the Frankfort Community Unit District was formed.
In 1974-1975, two modern elementary
school buildings, Frankfort School at 1000 East Seventh Street and
Denning School at 701 North Columbia Street were built, replacing
Lincoln, Edwards, Franklin, Joiner, and Logan Schools. All these buildings, except Logan School, were demolished.
In 1978 a new Junior High School
building was built at 1500 East Ninth Street on the north side of the
city, replacing the 66-year old Central School. The
West Frankfort School system had come a long way since the one-room
school at Old Frankfort was used nearly one hundred fifty years ago.
Logan School has been preserved, and
now houses The Frankfort Area Historical Museum, a fitting memorial for
the historical village of Old Frankfort which existed at that location
from 1821 until early 1900.