COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado City schools of old

By Mel McFarland

       In Colorado Springs, regularly we hear of the District 11 schools with a possibility of being closed because of their enrollment. One hundred years ago, two of these schools were in the news regularly. So was one other, but it has not been a school for many years.
       The big news was the building of the new Midland and Whittier schools. Midland's was on the same site where it had started in 1889, on 25th Street between Hagerman and Howbert streets. The first Whittier school had been in the old City Hall, across 29th Street from the Standard Club (Fire Station 5 now). Ever wonder where the name came from?
       The children of the fourth grade of the Colorado City elementary school, when it opened up in the old City Hall, selected the name of their favorite poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, for their school.
       The cornerstone for the new Whittier at 2904 W. Kiowa St. was laid on May 1, 1901. When it opened, it was ahead of its time. Two extra rooms were set aside for future growth. It did not take long. There were 525 students at Whittier a month after it opened.
       Entering the building, through one of two main doors, there is a short flight of stairs up to the main hallway. On either end of the hall are classrooms. Along the hall is located the office and library. On the second floor were rooms for the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grades. In the basement there was one room that was finished, as well as space for one or two other rooms if needed in the future.
       Midland School, although not identical, was similar in plan, as was Longfellow School. Ever notice the building, now part of the church on the comer of 20th, just beyond West Middle School? That was Longfellow. It was replaced after Buena Vista was built.
       As Colorado Springs and Colorado City grew towards each other, Washington was also added. West was built in 1923, along with North and South juniors. South was torn down years ago, and stood where the Police Operations Center is now located dowtown.
       In 1956, the old Midland school relocated some of its grades to the new Midland on Broadway Street, with all the students moving there in 1970.
       One of the unusual features of these early schools was the residence for the janitor. The one at Whittier was torn down when it was expanded some 40 years ago. The one for the old Midland School still stands behind it. I remember Whittier fondly, that is where I started school!