We are continually adding to the history
of our District, not only as the years
advance, but also as more is known about
the past. In some places below, you
will see blanks if a date is unknown,
and if there is conflicting information
from different sources, that is noted.
Contributions are welcome. Please
submit them to School and Community
In 1853, the first school was held in
Waterloo. Over the decades since, each
school’s opening and closing represents
the pattern of growth of the city, the
development of its railroads, industries
and business. The location of these
schools creates an intriguing mosaic
that reflects the life of the city. The
first school in Waterloo was held in a
log cabin (16′ x 22′) on the northeast
corner of Bridge and Main Streets, now
the site of the Five Sullivan Brothers
Convention Center. The cabin was built
on land donated for that purpose by G.
W. (‘Wash’) and Mary Hanna, serving all
17 homes in Waterloo! The school also
doubled as a church for a Methodist
Waterloo’s first teacher
was Eliza May, daughter of Samuel May, a
pioneer hotel keeper. The building was
razed in 1877.The first school on the
East Side of Waterloo was organized in
1854. Classes were held in a house owned
by Myron Smith at the corner of Water
and Fifth Streets. The teacher was O. I.
Hardy. Prior to 1858 (the year Waterloo
was declared a city), schools in the
village of Waterloo operated as a single
Click here to read a story about
Mary Pratt, the first teacher to teach
in the Black Hawk Township.
In 1855, the
first schoolhouse, Grout,
opened at 8th and Sycamore. It closed
in 1862 and was razed in 1955.1858 saw
the Stone Schoolhouse at
403 west Parker open. In 1888 it
closed, and in 1953 the building was
sold to Four Square Gospel Church.In
1858, Waterloo was declared a City.In
1860, Central School on
Washington between 6th and 7th Streets
opened. (This was later to be the site
of the Sloane Wallace school.) In 1866,
it was fenced to keep out roaming cattle
and horses. The building burned in
Union School, “Old
Brick” opened at Mulberry and
6th Street as a four-room building. Lou
Henry (later, Hoover) attended here. A
two-room annex was added in 1886. The
building was formerly (this could
possibly be intended to mean ‘formally’)
named the John G. Holland School.
In 1898 it was closed, and in 1907, it
was razed to make way for the Manual
1866–SPLIT INTO TWO DISTRICTS
By 1858, sentiment had developed
among the residents east of the river to
establish two separate school districts.
Residents west of the river (Waterloo
Township) favored the unified district.
On March 19, 1866, Election Day, high
water and heavy rains prevented the West
Side residents from crossing the
unbridged river to the East Waterloo
polling place. With the full support of
the East Waterloo voters, the issue to
establish two separate districts passed.
The West Side became the Independent
District of Waterloo; the East Side
organized as the East Waterloo
Independent School District. For the
next 76 years until 1942, these two
independent districts operated side by
side as separate school districts.
At the turn of the century, industry
was rapidly expanding in Waterloo.
Watchful eyes were alert for talented,
creative, educated personnel to help
companies gain a competitive edge.
Continued leadership in commercial and
public service depended upon it.
By 1904, the number of public schools
in Waterloo was not evenly distributed:
eight public and three parochial schools
were located on the East Side. Four
public schools served the West Side.
The construction and location of the
schools reflected rapid industrial
development and the related boost in
population during the 1890s. Washington, Fiske, and McKinley Schools
were all located in developing areas of
the workingman’s housing by 1904.
Children of immigrants working in
factories and for the Illinois Central
Railroad were among those attending the
parochial schools. In addition, the
Illinois Central Railroad operated a
training school for teenage boys in the
West Side school locations and the
paucity of them reflected the slower but
steady development there. It was not
until the creation of the Westfield
industrial sector in 1903 that the West
Side saw extensive factory-related
development. In 1904 only Emerson School at Randolph and
West Second Street and Lowell
School at 1223 Washington
Street extended educational facilities
beyond the Original Town Plat. The
location of Emerson School reflected the
residential development tied to the
Third Street streetcar line.
Following is a timeline of schools in
each of the two districts
East Waterloo Independent
1869–A two story, two room school
opened at Walnut and Second Street; in
1893, the building was sold.
1874–East Side High School
opened on High Street between Lime and
Vine. The building burned in 1915. This
was later the site of another East High
School, to be built in 1919.
1893–Louisa May Alcott School
opened on Walnut between East
2nd and 3rd Streets. It closed in 1940
and was razed upon the completion of
Longfellow. The land was later the site
of Immanual Lutheran School.
1897–East High School opened
on Mulberry and 6th, beside the John G.
Holland School on High Street. The
building became Hawthorne
a two-room frame schoolhouse, opened on
East 4th between Adams and Webster; it
later moved to Broadway and Riehl and
was re-named John Fiske
Elementary School. In 1908,
School opened on East 4th
between Adams and Webster. This was a
large brick building replacing the
relocated frame building at the same
site. It closed in 1940. From
1943-1963 it served as the Waterloo
Recreation Center. In 1966, it was
razed. (facts are not clear about the
two Washington schools)
1903 — McKinley Elementary
School opened at Franklin
Street and Linden Avenue. It was built
on the same blueprint as Fiske. It
closed in 1920 when Francis Grout
opened. It was converted to an
apartment building and later razed.
1909–Manual Training School
opened on Mulberry at 6th, on
the site of the Holland School. In
1917, it was converted to the first
junior high (8th and 9th grades) in
Waterloo, perhaps the first in Iowa. In
the 1950s, it was razed to make way for
School opened at Linden and
Douglas; it closed in 1915 when Grant
opened at Ballou and Avalon.
The building was moved several times,
and it served as an annex to Edison,
then Whittier, and the old Lowell prior
to its final location at Hawthorne at
Power Street (Riverview).
School opened at East Lafayette
and Colorado; it closed in 1973 and was
was sold in 1994.
In 1913 the first Lincoln
Elementary School was opened at
Parker and Westfield. Additions were
made in 1946 and 1954. It closed at
the end of the 2003-04 school year and
was replaced by a new Lincoln Elementary
on Cedar Bend Road.
Ulysses S. Grant Elementary
School was built in 1915.
Located on Mobile Street and Cottage
Streets; additions were made in 1952 and
1957 and an annex was built in 1962. In
1970 the building was remodeled for the
Bridgeway Project, an alternative
educational program for elementary
students. The Bridgeway program
maintained minority and non-minority
student enrollment percentages at 50:50
while attracting over 300 children each
year from throughout the district. That
building was razed and was replaced with
the new Dr. Walter Cunningham
School for Excellence built at
the same location, opening in August of
During the industrial development
period of Waterloo’s history, the early
20th century, the district built grand
new high schools to accommodate the many
new students. Designed by local
architect Mortimer Cleveland, the
East High School
opened with considerable fanfare in
1919. It was built on High Street
between Lime and Vine Streets, the site
of the first East High School built in
1874. Additions and extensive
remodeling were done in 1939, 1955,
1956, 1962, 1965, 2002, 2006, and 2007.
You can read a
history of East High by student Kris
Oberheu which was published in the
EHS student newspaper, The Orange
and Black, in April 1990.
*Link removed as redirected to web page
Francis Grout Elementary
School opened in 1920 at 330
Madison Street. It closed in 1981 and
was sold in 1994.
Roosevelt Elementary School
at 200 Arlington Street was built in
Asset page from National Park Service as a
National Historic Place.
Construction of an addition and
remodeling of the original building in
1954 created a unique enrichment room
adapted to teaching art, music, and
children’s literature. It was closed in
______ and renovated into senior
Longfellow Elementary School
at 233 Edwards Street was completed in
1940 with several unusual features.
Between each classroom is a workroom,
and the school has a little theatre in
addition to a large stage in the
gymnasium. Longfellow replaced Alcott,
John Fiske, and Washington Schools. In
1959 an annex was built to the school.
Longfellow was closed as an elementary
school at the end of the 2007-08 school
year and re-opened in the fall of 2009
to house several district alternative
programs. It closed again in the middle
of the 2010-11 school year when all
alternative programs consolidated at
Expo Alternative High School, located in
the former McKinstry Elementary
The Independent District of
replaced the earlier Central School that
had burned. It housed grades 1-12, on
Washington Street, between 6th and 7th
Streets. It was remodeled in 1920 and
became part of Sloane Wallace
Junior High. It was razed in
in 1889, the first Lowell
School opened at 1223
Washington Street. In 1907 an addition
opened at West 2nd and Randolph Streeet.
Additions were made in 1906 and 1916.
in 1973, it was used by Expo alternative
High School, and in 1981, it closed. It
was later sold.
1901 saw Waterloo High School
open on Washington beside the Central
School. In 1927, it was remodeled;
Central was renamed Sloane Wallace
Junior High School. In 1955 it closed.
John G. Whittier
Elementary School opened at
West 3rd and Sullivan. Additions were
made in 1909 and 1915. It closed in
1981 and was later sold.
In 1913, the original
Washington Irving Elementary School,
Hawthorne and West 6th
Street, opened. Additions were made in
1948 and 1954. It closed in 2003 when
the new Irving opened at the site of the
former West Middle School on West 5th
In 1914 Edison Elementary
School at 800 Rock Island
Avenue, was built to replace the
Westfield School. A prized possession of
the school is a letter Thomas Edison
wrote to the students when he learned
that they had voted to name their school
after him. Edison Junior High was
constructed in 1955 as one of several
(1937, 1949, 1955, 1960) additions made
to Edison Elementary School. For many
years the building housed both
elementary and junior high students. In
1988, as part of the district’s
reorganization plan, Edison again became
totally an elementary school. It
continued to operate as a prek-5 until
its closing in December 2011. Its
students were then served by Fred Becker Elementary School,
which opened in January 2012, at 1239
Sheldon in Waterloo.
In 1919 Kingsley Elementary
School, located at 201 Sunset
Road at the intersection of Prospect
Boulevard, was completed. There have
been two additions to the school–one in
1952 and another in 1958. In 2005,
Kingsley was closed for complete
remodeling; it reopened in the fall of
In 1922 construction on the West Side
high school was completed at 1115 West 5th
Street. The unsettled times surrounding
World War I had delayed its
Waterloo West High
School exhibited the latest in
school design, a reflection of the
growing appreciation for education in
America. Its architect, William ‘Bull’
Ittner of St. Louis, was a nationally
known authority on school design. The
dedicatory plaque carries this
inscription: “Dedicated to the students
of Waterloo High School who offered
their lives to their country
1917-1919.” Both junior and senior high
students attended this school until
1955, when the present West High School
was opened at Ridgeway Avenue and
Baltimore Street. The Fifth Street
building served as a junior
high/intermediate/middle school and was
known respectively as West
Junior High (1955),
West Intermediate (1981), and
West Middle School (1996)
before it was demolished in 2001 to make
way for the new Irving Elementary
Lowell (the second
building to be known as Lowell) was
erected at 1628 Washington Street in
1931. It was named after American poet
James Russell Lowell. Because it
was a W.P.A. (Works Progress
Administration) project, Lowell has a
number of unusual features such as a
lobby fountain, a fishpond, and a
fireplace. Phased renovations were
completed at Lowell in 2004 – 2008.
In 1933, the first Castle
Hill Elementary School opened
on Rainbow Drive. It became part of the
district in 1936. It was razed in
The Twenthieth Century
Dramatic increases in school enrollment
mirrored the regular doubling in
population for all of Waterloo in the
early 20th century.
Enrollment increased steadily on both
sides of the river, although the east
side continued to show higher numbers.
The table below shows enrollment
increases between 1904 and 1926 for the
East and West sides of town.
The Waterloo School districts (both
the East District and the West District)
embarked upon construction programs for
entirely new schools and massive
additions to house the hordes of
students. By 1928, there were ten
schools on the East Side, including five
built after 1904: Lafayette,
Roosevelt, France Grout, Grant, and
Lincoln. The West Side had
nine schools in 1928. New construction
included three new elementary schools
and additions to two more, which more
than doubled their capacities. For
example, Emerson was
built in 1893 for $8,600; the
addititions made in 1906 and 1916 cost
$20,490 and $35,700 respectively.
In 1942, through the efforts of many
citizens living on the East and West
Independent School Districts and after
operating as separate entities for 76
years, the two districts merged as one
Independent School District of
Waterloo. The student
enrollment at the time of the merger was
In 1947, three sub-district school
districts were reorganized and merged
with the Waterloo Schools: Thies,
Cushman and Pleasant Dale.
Thies School, on
Highway 57, was used for several years.
Mr. John Thies was a former member of
the East Waterloo Board of Directors
(or, superintendent). It was a two-room
school that closed in 1958. In the
1990s it was razed.
Van Eaton School, at
2170 Burton Avenue, was built in 1942 as
Cushman Heights School.
After the merger, it was remodeled and
renamed Van Eaton School. Additions
were made in 1952, 1954, 1956, and
1967. It was closed in 1978.
The third school involved in that
merger, Pleasant Dale School,
located at the junction of Highways 57
and 63, closed in 1947, the year the
merger took place.
The total enrollment for the district
in 1950 was 9,407 students.
Maywood Elementary School
opened in 1950 at Milwaukee and
dearborn. additions were made in 1952
and 1955. In 1973, the school closed.
The building was leased to Head Start.
in _______, the District transferred
ownership of the building to Tri County
Black Hawk Elementary School,
1700 Downing Avenue, was constructed in
1950, and an addition was made in 1967.
It continued to operate as a K-5 school
until closing at the end of the 2009-10
school year. The building was razed.
Black Hawk students joined with those of
Edison, at the Edison building, until
the new Becker Elementary was opened in
January 2012, on a site adjacent to the
former Black Hawk school.
For many years,
Elementary School was the
largest elementary school in the
district. Built in 1950, at 1520 Easton
Avenue, it was named for Superintendent
Charles A. Kittrell. Charles A. Kittrell
served as Superintendent of the Waterloo
Independent School District from 1929
until his death in 1942. Additions were
made in 1955 and 1960. In 1962, a large
annex was built south of the original
structure on 11th Street. In the fall of
2009, the new Kittrell Elementary School
was opened just southeast of the old
building, at 1304 Oregon Street,
Waterloo, IA 50702. The Kittrell
“Annex” on West 11th Street was
remodeled to be an early childhood
center. The original building was razed
The junior high school built at the
corner of Independence Avenue and Idaho
Street in 1953 was named McKinstry in honor of a former
president of the Board of Education.
Charles S. McKinstry was an eminent
community leader and involved in many
civic activities. To honor him, the
Waterloo Chamber of Commerce named him
to Waterloo’s Hall of Fame. An addition
was made in 1961. McKinstry School was
converted from a junior high facility to
an elementary school in 1981.
In December 2009, McKinstry was closed
as an elementary school, and in January
2010, a new elementary school named
Highland was opened
just south of it, at 812 Idaho Street,
Waterloo, IA 50703.
Logan Junior High
was also built in 1953 at 1515 Logan
Avenue and named for a beloved
superintendent. Jack M. Logan served as
superintendent of the East Waterloo
Schools from 1932 to 1942 and of the
newly reorganized Independent School
District of Waterloo from 1942 to 1962
(a total 30 years). Both Logan Junior
High and McKinstry Junior High were
constructed from the same blueprints.
District records show the cost for
building each of the schools was
approximately $1,500,000. An addition
was made in 1960. In 1996, the school
was changed to Logan Middle
School; it was closed at the
end of the 2008-09 school year and
replaced by the George
Washington Carver Academy that
was built nearby.
In 1955, the new
School opened on Ridgeway
Avenue and Baltimore Street. Additions
were completed in 1962, 2002, 2007, and
Also in 1955, the second Castle
Hill Elementary School opened
at 1729 Maynard. Additions were made in
1957 and 1958. in 1989, it was closed.
it was leased to the AEA 7 (later AEA
267) for special needs students.
In 1955 City View Heights
Elementary School opened at
1925 Newell. It closed in 1978 and was
sold to the City of Waterloo who
converted it to a Hazardous Material
In 1955, enrollment was 12,000.
In 1959, Nellie Garvey
Elementary school opened at
2201 Mitchell, replacing Riverview
School. In 1978 it closed and was used
by the dsitrict for storage for a number
of years. The property was sold in
In 1961, Harry Krieg
Elementary School opened at
East 4th and Ralston. In 1987, it
closed; it was sold to the City of
The year 1964 brought a major
reorganization to the district through
the concurrent action of the Boards of
Education of the East Waterloo Township
Schools and the Orange Consolidated
Schools and the merger of several school
districts. This resulted in extensive
expansion of the Waterloo district to
both the south and east. Because of the
boundary change and school
reorganization laws, it was necessary
for the Waterloo Independent School
district to change its name to the
Waterloo Community School
This reorganization added several
buildings to the district and brought
the district’s enrollment to 18,856
students. Added were:
Kimball–this school was built in 1915 to
replace 10 district schoolhouses.
Additions were made in 1952 and 1955.
It will close in May of 2013, being
replaced by a new Orange Elementary
Jewett Elementary at 600
Collins in Evansdale–this building had
been built in 1948 and named for a Black
Hawk County Superintendent. Additions
were made in 1950, 1952, 1956, and
1969. It was closed in 2007.
Elk Run Elementary on McCoy
Road in Elk Run Heights–this school had
been built in 1952. It was closed as an
elementary in 2007 and reopened as an
early childhood center.
on Route 3,
had been built in 1953. It was closed
in 1970 and in 1999, transferred to the
city of Waterloo.
Washburn Elementary School
Washburn–this building was built in 1958
and additions wwere made in 1967 and
1969. It was closed in 1987.
School on Park Lane in
Waterloo. This school was built in 1963
to replace two frame schoolhouses south
of Ridgeway. An addition was made in
1967. It was closed in 1987 and in 1997
sold to Nova Care.
Carl E. Bunger Junior High School
at 157 Roosevelt in Evansdale was
started by citizens of Evansdale and
East Waterloo Township. It was built in
1963, and completed by the Waterloo
School District in 1965 after the
reorganization and merger. An addition
was made in 1971. It was closed in 1988,
reopening briefly as Bunger School of
Technology, and then once again
returning in 1999 as Bunger
Middle School. In 2003, ten
classrooms were added.
Following the merger, enrollment was
In 1964 the Administration Building
was built at 1516 Washington Street to
provide centralized facilities for
administrative and supervisory
personnel. It is now known as the
Education Service Center.
Hoover Junior High School
at 630 Hillcrest Road was completed in
1967 at an estimated cost of $1,600,000.
It was named for President Herbert
Hoover. It’s now Hoover Middle
Other schools built in 1967 led to
the district’s all time high enrollment
of 19,873 students. Those builings included:
In 1968, Westridge Elementary
School was opened at 3610
Ansborough. in 1969, mobile classrooms
were added. In 1981, it was closed. It
was leased to the AEA 7 and then sold to
a day care center (Community United
Child Care Center).
In 1969 Greenbrier Elementary
School opened at 1554 Oakwood
Drive. An addition was made in 1969.
It was closed in 1987, and in 1995
reopened at the Education
Discipline Center. It was
again closed in 2001 and used for
offices for support services.
In 1970 Cedar Terrace
Elementary School was opened at
737 Belle Street. It closed in 1981 and
was later sold.
In 1971 Devonshire Elementary
School was opened at 515
Devonshire Drive. In 1987 it closed.
It was leased to the AEA for special
needs programming until 2009 when the
district brought this programming
Central High School
opened at Huntington and Hackett Roads
in 1972 at an estimated cost of
$4,000,000. When Central High opened,
Orange High School closed. Orange had a
long and rich history, graduating its
first class of nine students in 1918.
The last class to graduate from Orange
High in 1972 had 110 students. In 1988,
as part of the district’s reorganization
plan, Central was closed as a high
school and reopened as junior high
school; it was converted to a middle
school in 1996.
Click here to view enrollment history
for Central Middle School.
In September 1994,
Stadium (track, field, and
stands) opened through the support of a
private fund drive led by the P.A.S.S.
In 1981, the enrollment of the
district dropped to 13,532 and to 11,526
in 1991. In 2000, it was 10,914.
Rebuilding The passage
by the voters of Black Hawk County of
the One Cent Local Option Tax for
Schools in 1999 led to extensive
facility improvements and
replacements. With the support of this
tax, the District constructed nine new
elementary schools, completely remodeled
two elementary schools, constructed one
new middle school, and completed
multi-phased projects at the middle and
The first new elementary school was
Cunningham School for Excellence,
opened in 2002, and built to replace
Grant Elementary and half of the
Roosevelt Elementary attendance area.
Multi-phased renovations were
completed at both East High and West
The new Irving Elementary
opened in the fall of 2003 on the same
grounds where the original West High
(later West Junior/Intermediate/Middle)
The new Lincoln Elementary
opened in 2004 at 302 Cedar Bend Street
on property donated by the City of
Waterloo, through the Waterloo Water
Works Board of Trustees.
Lou Henry Elementary,
adjacent to Hoover Middle School,
opened in August 2005.
Elementary opened in
renovations were made in stages over two
years, being completed in 2008.
opened at 1138 Central Avenue,
Evansdale, IA 50707 in August 2007,
serving students who had previously been
in the attendance areas of Jewett
Elementary in Evansdale and Elk Run
Elementary in Elk Run Heights.
Improvements at Bunger, Central, and
Hoover Middle Schools have added space
and program capabilities.
In 2006, voters approved a ten year
extension of the One Cent Option Tax,
allowing further facility improvements
to take place. In ____, voters approved
a Revenue Purpose Statement that allows
The George Washington Carver
Academy, formerly Logan Middle
School, opened for the 2009-10 school
year focusing on a Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Math
curriculum. Partnering with the Iowa
State Extension of Black Hawk County,
the Dick Young Greenhouse was built with
a gift of $200,000 from the Young Family
Foundation, as part of George Washington
Carver Academy. Both buildings are
located at 1505 Logan Avenue.
The new Highland Elementary, replacing
McKinstry Elementary, opened in January
2010, at 812 Idaho Street.
Becker Elementary School,
a new elementary for former Black
Hawk and Edison Elementary students was
built near the old Black Hawk site, and
opened in January 2012.
Expo and the WEBC/STAR-C closed their
previous separate sites in December ____
and reopened in January ____ at
McKinstry’s old site, 1410 Independence
Avenue, and as the Expo
Alternative Learning Center.
In 2012-13, the district operates 11
elementary schools, four middle schools,
three high schools, and two Pre-K
schools, with 10,555
students. Thirteen are elementary
schools for students in pre-kindergarten
through grade five including two pre-k
buildings Freeburg Preschool and Elk Run
Preschool, four middle schools for
grades six through eight, and three are
high schools: East, West and Expo (an
alternative high school).
(Sources: Waterloo Community
Schools Alumni Directory 1853-1992;
Waterloo Community School District
History of Schools: by Arlis
Credits: Information for this article
was compiled from these sources:
Research material from the archives of
the Grout Museum of History and
Science Research material from historians
James Sage, Helen Hawkins, and Ernie
Barker ;Waterloo Factory City of Iowa:
by Beving Long