Eugene Field Elementary School (former), 613 East Chestnut
During the 1916-1917 school session, the Carthage Board of Education approved the construction of two new schools including this brick and limestone structure. (Mark Twain Elementary School on South Main Street was the other school; see Clio entry for that school's history.) Eugene Field was built on Chestnut Street between Fulton and Orchard Streets. The new structure replaced older ward schools of Washington and Irving that served the surrounding neighborhoods. The choice of the school's name was to honor Missouri poet and journalist Eugene Field as a sign of respect for literature in education which was considered important at the time.
Backstory and Context
Eugene Field School served the Carthage school system from 1917 through the 1996-1997 school year when it was closed with the construction of Steadley Elementary School on West Fairview Road. Tom Bewick was the last principal of the school. The first principal of Eugene Field School was Lula Stanley who served from 1917 to 1950 (1). The naming of the school in early 1917 came as a surprise to Cathaginians. "It was generally supposed that one of the schools would be named after the late Prof. J. M. White, who died while superintendent of schools here, and that the other [school] name would be chosen from the names handed in by the citizens. There had been so much discussion as to which of the names suggested would be fitting that the board decided to choose names which had not been suggested (2)." Like Mark Twain School, Eugene Field School was designed by Percy Simpson and constructed by P. J. McNerney contractors (3).
Powers Museum Vertical Files: Eugene Field School.
"The Board Selects Names," Carthage Evening Press, February 7, 1917, no page available (2).
Van, Gilder, Marvin. "Eugene Field School named after famous Missouri author," Carthage Press, June 10, 1997, pg. 2B (1 & 3).
Photograph, certificate, program and postcard from Powers Museum Collection.