Mark Twain Elementary School, 1435 South Main Street
Mark Twain Elementary School was built on the site of the former Carthage Collegiate Institute (see Clio entry for same). The building had been used for a short period for public school classes after the college closed and before demolition of the structure. Construction for Mark Twain was approved and accomplished during the 1916-1917 school year being one of two new schools added to the system that term. The other school was Eugene Field Elementary School on Chestnut Street (see Clio entry for school). The first day of class was September 10, 1917 and the original enrollment was 306 pupils for Mark Twain. The ultimate selection of the names of both schools had been a surprise because "it was generally supposed one of the schools would be named after the late Prof. J. M. White, who died while superintendent of schools (1)."
Backstory and Context
Daisy Rankin was the first principal of the school and she also taught 6th grade. Other original faculty members included Florence Hetz, Pearl Higdon, Martha Bacher, Cecil Fenner, Ara Meador and Lillian Butchers. Like their principal, all teachers were unmarried women (2).
Mark Twain's current principal, Mrs. Laurel Rosenthal, has served the school for more than fifty years. Today the facility contains kindergarten through fourth grade classes. The school's name was chosen to emphasize the importance of teaching literature in the school system and honors Missouri-born author and humorist Samuel Clemens who was known as Mark Twain. The building's architect was Percy Simpson with assistance from J. H. Felt & Company and was constructed of Carthage limestone by local contractor P. J. McNerney (3).
Photographs coming soon!
Powers Museum Vertical File: Mark Twain School (where an unpublished mss with teachers names was found for #2).
VanGilder, Marvin. "Name choice was a compromise," The Carthage Press, October 16, 1992, page 5B (source of #1 & #3 above).