Merriam Historic Plaza Walking Path
From 1837 to 1869 the Quaker Mission educated the children from area Indian settlements. The early settlers of Campbellton sent their children to the Hickory Grove School, which was located near present day Shawnee Mission North High School.
As the population grew, the need for a local school was widely felt. For a short time, school was held in various buildings. In 1871, school was held for one term in a building called The Gin Mill across the street from the town's hotel.
School District Number 79, known as Merriam School District, was formed, and a new building was constructed and opened in 1872. The two-story yellow brick structure was a sophisticated model of an old time schoolhouse and included a bell tower and bell. The first school teacher, Ike Short, taught all eight grades for fifty dollars per month. The building was used for classes and as a community center until 1911.
After the trolley line was built and the local population swelled, a larger building was badly needed. In 1911, the first unit of a new building for the Merriam School was constructed of native limestone. The building was two stories high and housed both a grade school and small high schol. In 1922, all the grade schools in the area consolidated and fed into the newly established Shawnee Mission Rural High School District. High school students then attended the new high school on Johnson Drive.
Two additions were made to the Merriam school in 1937 and 1950. The Merriam School was one of the first grade schools in Johnson County and the twenty-fifth in the state of Kansas.
About the Images
Recess at Merriam School -
The first permanent school building in Merriam operated from 1872 to 1911. Students shown playing volleyball at recess at second Merriam School.
Laying the Cornerstone -
The community gathered at the construction site of the second Merriam School building, built in 1911.
Domestic Science Class, Merriam School -
1914 classroom of the Domestic Science Department at Merriam School. Domestic Science Class students displayed their culinary ability by serving a dinner to parents, teachers, and the school board.
Did you know?
Both the original Merriam School built in 1872, and the second Merriam School built in 1911 are still in use today. The second Merriam School is now the Irene B. French Community Center, owned by the City of Merriam and named for the former mayor who was instrumental in its preservation and renovation. It is located at 5701 Merriam Drive.