|JOHNSON COUNTY IAGenWeb Project|
By Bob Hibbs
Saturday August 28, 2004
Hoover principal Marilyn Wirtz poses with an image of the school namesake taken as he entered the school
for its dedication 50 years ago. Social studies teacher Lorraine Whittington and an upper unit 5-6 class wave
school greetings. Photos and collage by the author.
acres of Fairall-Dunlap horse and cow pasture was transformed 50 years ago
into the site of Hoover Elementary School on the southeast doorstep of Iowa
City High School.
U.S. President Herbert Hoover, a West Branch native who headed an American
relief effort in Europe after World War I credited with sparing lives and
misery, was on hand to dedicate his namesake school. Today an image of the
31st president entering the school hangs in its vestibule.
1929-33 Hoover presidential term spanned the stock market crash that sparked
disastrous unemployment during the Great Depression, the sentencing of
gangster Al Capone to prison and the Nazis rise to power in Germany. Amelia
Earhart was the first woman to solo the Atlantic Ocean in 1932.
Hoover School media center houses audio tape of President Hoover’s
dedication remarks of Aug. 10, 1954, Hoover’s 80th birthday and a decade
before his death. Efforts are currently underway to transfer the remarks onto
electronic media to enhance access.
Chadek, 94-year-old City High alum of 1928, remembers the pasture. He
delivered newspapers at the Fairall home which still exists with a Dunlap
earned a nickel a week for each of his 28 deliveries, except his pay was only
four cents if the subscriber paid at the office, eliminating need to collect
each Saturday morning.
was a common local family name a century ago. George Fairall was the East
Lucas Township assessor in 1900, although the property was listed in the name
Ellen Fairall, perhaps a wife or mother. There are 10 Fairall listings in the
1922 directory; 12 in 1900; but, none today.
property was owned subsequently for many years by implement dealer Mike
Dunlap, for whom the street serving the farmstead home is named.
School was expanded and updated in 1958, 1968 and 1986. It’s now seventh
oldest among currently used facilities after Mann and Longfellow (both 1918),
Lincoln (1926), Roosevelt (1932), City High (1939) and Coralville Central
(1948). Twain also was opened in 1954.
three principals have served during most of Hoover’s existence, including
the current, Marilyn Wirtz, now in her 13th year. The late Richard Hughes
served 21 years beginning in 1962, and Guerin Thompson six from 1983.
serving nearly 300 early childhood through six graders, Hoover enrollment
ballooned beyond 600 during the late 1960s as four temporary structures
handled the load before Lemme was opened in 1970. Hoover was the largest local
elementary during the 1969-70 school year.
Iowa City School District was first organized July 14, 1853, by a new city
council which appointed a committee to operate it. First principal was Henry
Lathrop at a salary of $450 annually, succeeded within months by Samuel
Spurrier at $400.
Mechanics Academy located along Linn Street just north of Iowa Avenue was
leased for five years for $250 annually. Within a year district enrollment
reached 155 pupils in four classes; an average class size of 39.
ward schools were completed in 1858, each costing $8,125, buildings which were
used well into the 20th century. That same year a school board was elected to
succeed the council’s committee in supervising the district.
School semi-centennial events are spaced through the school year, culminating
next spring. Students already have made a large hand-print backdrop now
displayed in the media center and shared birthday cake Thursday. Intercom
school history quizzes are planned and Hoover descendants will be invited to
with Hoover School memories or historic images is encouraged to submit them to
the principal for a “memory book” in anticipation of the school’s 2054
all, that’s just a moment away when current Hoover students will be
approaching retirement age.
Body snatching from Iowa City’s Oakland Cemetery.
Bob Hibbs collects local postcards and other historic ephemera and researches history related to them.