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Salisbury Graded School - Graded School and Superintendent's Residence

Salisbury, N.C. Graded School and Superintendent’s Residence.

Even though laws establishing public education were enacted in 1839, in Salisbury prior to the Civil War, there was little progress in public education.  Following the war, public schools were established by the new state constitution in 1868, but the school year was only four months long.  An article in the Carolina Watchman appearing on February 5, 1880, mentioned that there were around 175 pupils and school commissioners were making arrangements to build a suitable building.  The mayor at that time, John A. Ramsay, led a movement to levy a property tax to address the growing need. The building was begun in the fall of 1881on North Ellis Street.  Mayor Ramsay, an architect by trade, and the Rev. Francis Murdoch were credited with the design.  The school was a cruciform brick building in the Italianate style.  In the early years, only nine grades were taught.  An addition was built and connected to the old graded school in 1904.  It contained a large auditorium, about a dozen classrooms, basement, and offices for the superintendent.  On its opening, education through grade eleven was offered.  Located at 314 North Ellis Street, the school later became the Frank B. John School an elementary school - grades 1-8.  These photographs were taken around 1907, after the additions to the original school. The only part of this building that remains is the oldest part, which is used for administrative offices.

A neighborhood grew up around the school in the early 20th century.  The style of architecture ranged from Queen Anne and Italianate to early twentieth century period revival houses as well as Craftsman bungalows. The district, known as the Ellis Street Graded School Historic District, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 

Postcard series no. 0162 Raphael Tuck & Sons


50th Anniversary Edition, Salisbury City Schools Progress Salisbury, NC: Salisbury City Schools, 1971

Ellis Street Graded School Local Historic District

MSS 2003-3, Miscellaneous Rowan-Salisbury Schools Collection.

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