History of Will Carleton Elementary School
428 South Broadway, Wichita, Kansas  67202
Adapted from History of Wichita Public Schools Buildings

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A small bond issue for School District No. 1, Sedgwick County, passed in 1877, and two schools were built, one of which was Will Carleton Elementary School at Lewis and Lawrence (now Broadway) streets.  It was completed in 1879 and known as the First Ward School until 1885 when the teachers petitioned to have the school’s name changed to Will Carleton in honor of a contemporary poet.  Teachers wanted the name changed to avoid confusion, as there were several “Ward” schools now in existence.

Mr. Carleton, being pleased the school had been named for him, chose to visit the school in April 1892.  After a well-planned program involving the superintendent, school board members, teachers, and pupils, Mr. Carleton visited every class and in some recited his poetry.  He then left them a 60-pound box of candy.  The students cheered loud and long.

Records indicate that in 1902-03 to 1919, grades one through eight were taught at Carleton, with the principal teaching the eighth grade pupils.  On January 27, 1913 the Board of Education awarded a contract for $38,900 to Ellis Construction Co. for a new brick building to replace the original structure.  School opened in the new building in the fall of 1913 after the building and grounds committee had authorized a 12-foot brick walk to be placed around the school.  Hamilton and Horace Mann Intermediate schools were opened in 1919-20, so elementary schools in close proximity to these schools enrolled their seventh and eighth grade pupils, thereby making more room for the constant influx of elementary pupils in the area. …

In September 1920 the first special education class with 15 … students … was organized at Carleton with Miss Helen Pelzel as teacher.  In the early 1940s the area was becoming commercialized and enrollment had dropped from 643 in 1930 to 276 in 1942.  The Board of Education … voted on November 2, 1942 to proceed with remodeling the west side of the third floor of the Carleton School for a large Board meeting room with adjacent kitchen facilities. In 1943 the Wichita City Teachers Association was provided office space in the Carleton Building, and by the end of the 1945-46 school year enrollment had dropped to 172, so the building was closed as a pupil attendance center.  The … administrative office suite was moved … to the building on September 3, 1946, and Carleton officially became the Administration Building.

Administrative office space was crowded and did not meet handicapped accessible standards, so in the fall of 1988 [administrative offices were moved to 217 North Water and other school related programs occupied the 428 Building, as the former school became known].

In November 1993 [the building was vacated and included in a trade that relocated all administrative offices to 201 North Water].