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The Boom Years 1950 - 1960 - Part 1

During the decade 1950-60, Tucson experienced its greatest population growth and School District 1 and its taxpayers became painfully aware that school construction had to keep up.

During this decade, three high schools, four junior high schools, the Tucson High School Vocational building and 23 elementary schools were constructed. The District took within its jurisdiction another grade school--Smith, built by the federal government on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Still another elementary school was taken over with the annexation of the Wrightstown School District. Construction was also completed in the form of additions to 37 schools.

The 1948 bond issue of $3,276,000--mentioned in the previous chapter--constructed Rose Elementary School in 1949 and Cragin, Howell, Lynn, Pueblo Gardens, Robison and the new Holladay Elementary Schools in 1950 and 1951. It also provided for additions to 14 existing schools, plus the remodeling of Spring Elementary School into Spring Junior High School.

The original construction of Cragin School, in 1950 included 6 classrooms, administrative offices and a nurse's room. It was constructed by Joynt Construction Co. for $106,514.07. Clarence Torsell, of the architecture firm of Torsell and Sliger, was the designer. Torsell became the District's first full-time architect in 951 and he retired at the end of the 1966-67 fiscal year.

Since that time 16 classrooms and a multi-purpose room have been added at a total cost $376,717.

The school, located at 2945 N. Tucson BIvd., was named in honor of Gertrude S. Cragin, the first full-time nurse in the Tucson Public Schools system. Mrs. Cragin trained at Chicago's Baptist Hospital and was a private nurse in that city before going to work in the public schools of Idaho. There, she became acquainted with C. E. Rose, who came to Tucson to become superintendent. Rose hired her to become the school nurse in District 1 on May 7, 1920, at a salary of $2,000 per year.

During early years of frequent smallpox and diphtheria epidemics, she began a militant program of student inoculation, often against the protests of parents.

Then began pre-school examinations and inoculations to insure that children entered school in a healthy condition. Her work encompassed programs for crippled children, school lunches, anti-tuberculosis care, dental examinations and special care for needy children. From this grew the present District Health Department. Mrs. Cragin retired in 1946. She died in 1948.

First principal of Cragin School was Miss Frederica Wilder. She is now Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education for the school district.

The history of Howell School is contained in the preceding chapter.

In 1950, Lynn Elementary School, 1573 Ajo Way, was originally a six-classroom structure built by Leonard Daily Construction Co. at a cost of $101,359.15. Architect was Gordon M. Luepke. Since 1950, 12 classrooms and a multi-purpose room have been added at a cost of $304,863.

An interesting hassle developed over a four-room addition as school was about to open for the fall semester in September, 1954. The contractor, Daily, refused to release keys to the new rooms to teachers so they could prepare the rooms for opening day. Daily refused to give up the keys because the Pima County Board of Supervisors was withholding final payment until a minor part of the job costing $50 was finished. Daily said the work was held up because arrival of materials had been delayed.

As school opened September 7, 1954, classes at Lynn went on double sessions because of the locked rooms. Through the cooperation of Supervisors Chairman Lambert Kautenburger and Superintendent Morrow, the hassle was ironed out. Kautenburger agreed that the Board of Supervisors would guarantee the final $50 payment ( the Board of Supervisors handles school bond money), drove to Daily's home, obtained the keys and gave them to Morrow. The school went off double sessions on September 20--marking the first time during Morrow's 14-year career that schools below the high school level were all on single sessions.

Lynn School was named in honor of Mrs. Mary Lynn. After graduating from high school in Buena Vista, Colorado, Mrs. Lynn taught school at St. Elmo, Colorado. She married James J. Lynn on September 12, 1901, and in 1907 the family moved to Tucson because of the poor health of a daughter.

Lynn went to work for the Tucson Indian Training School and Mrs. Lynn became interested in the school children and their activities. She also taught a Sunday school at the school.

In 1914, the Lynns purchased land on Ajo Way which became known as "Lynnwood," a producing farm. Mrs. Lynn continued her work with the Mexican and Indian families in the area and through her efforts a day school was organized at San Xavier.

When the site for Lynn School was purchased from part of Lynnwood, the School Board voted to name the new school after Mrs. Lynn, although she had never taught in School District 1.

Pueblo Gardens Elementary School, 2210 E. 33rd St., was constructed in 1950 of six classrooms, administrative offices and a nurse's room. Contractor was M. L. Abplanalp who was awarded the bid at $106,264. Architect was Clarence Torsell.

Twelve classrooms were added in 1954 through the use of federal funds. Pacheco & Lynn were the contractors for the job costing $287,060.

The school is named after the subdivision in which it is located.

The Robison School, at 2745 E. 18th St., was built with 15 classrooms, a community room, administration offices, a nurse's room, and a kitchen. Contractor was H. L. McCoy who submitted the low bid of $289,370. Architect was James Macmillan. Since completion in 1950, 10 classrooms have been added at a cost of $149,259.

The school was named for Roy H. Robison, a former principal of Safford School and also assistant superintendent of District 1.

Robison served for 27 years in the District and died unexpectedly April 23, 1948, while attending an education conference in Phoenix. He was 53 years of age.

Born in Arkansas, he graduated from East Central State Teachers College and held degrees from the University of Arizona and the University of Oklahoma. Before coming to Tucson, he was superintendent of schools at Wetumka, Oklahoma for two years.

He joined District 1 in 1921 and shortly afterward became principal of Safford Junior High School. He was appointed assistant superintendent in 1942.

Robison, according to Superintendent Morrow, "had an ever-increasing capacity for outstanding accomplishments in the field of education." At the time of his death he had been working on a revision of the arithmetic courses for the schools as well as a revision of curricula for junior high and elementary schools. "He was particularly effective in working with children as well as with teachers, with whom he had done a great deal of personnel work."

Robison was active in Boy Scout work and served as president of the Catalina Council of Boy Scouts in Tucson. He aided the Kiwanis club's youth program and was one of the originators of the Community Chest organization.

The Holladay School, named for Lon Holladay whose history appears in an earlier chapter, was constructed in the 1951-52 school year at 1130 E. 33rd Street. Leonard Daily Construction Co. was awarded the contract. Six classrooms, administrative offices and a nurse's room were constructed originally at a cost of $114,957. Jaastad & Knipe were the architects.

Since then eight classrooms and a general purpose room have been added at a cost of [ $264,120. Present principal is Gerald D. Sagert. Smith Elementary School, at 5741 "I" Street, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, was built with federal funds under the direction of the Air Force in 1952-53 at a cost of $294,807. In 1954, five classrooms were added, again with federal funds, costing $86,690. Total area includes 17 classrooms and administrative offices. It was designed by Scholer, Sakellar & Fuller and built by Murray Shiff Construction Co.

The air base school was formerly known as Davis-Monthan School, having opened in 1948 in government buildings on the base and taught by teachers paid by School District 1. The base also provided janitors while supplies were furnished by the school district. The school was for the accommodation of children of military personnel living on the base or in other government housing units. At this writing, the school district is in the process of applying for -title to the land and the building.

This school was named in honor of Col. Lowell H. Smith, a pioneer airman who dropped the first bomb from an airplane. He was the second commander of Davis-Monthan, a colorful figure of the old Air Corps with a military ,career beginning in 1917 and ending with his death in Tucson in 1945 from injuries suffered F when he fell from a horse in the Catalina Foothills.

In 1936, Smith, a captain, was appointed to the War Department board for standardizing airplane design and procurement procedures. Under his guidance from February, 1942, to March, 1943, Davis-Monthan became the top training base for B-17 and B-24 crews during World War II. Smith died on November 4, 1945. He was buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington, Va.

The district continued to grow and acquired a school building in 1953, when on May 19, a petition for the annexation of Wrightstown district was presented to the School Board. Annexation of the large district on the eastern edge of District 1 added $1,500,864 in assessed valuations and an area of 48 square miles. Promoters of the annexation argued that the district would receive more money from the new area in taxes than it would spend on school operation there. After petitions signed by 326 Wrightstown taxpayers out of a possible 400 were received, the district was accepted into School District 1 by the Board on May 26, 1953. Also acquired with the new district were 141 pupils being taught by six teachers.

The Wrightstown area has mushroomed during the 14 years since its annexation and now contains eight elementary schools (with a ninth under construction), three junior highs and one high school (with a second under construction and a third high school on the drawing boards) .

The old Wrightstown School was built after the district was organized in 1914 at a cost of $43,208. In 1953, the building had six rooms. Seven classrooms and a multi-purpose room have been added at an expenditure of $300,764.

The school gets its name from Harold Bell Wright, a novelist and a former resident of the area.

[Correction: While the original print version of this document identifies Harold Bell Wright as the namesake for the Wrightstown school and school district, the Wrightstown District, annexed by District 1 in 1953, and Wrightstown Elementary School are named for Fredrick and Dolores Wright, homesteaders who founded the school and donated the land on which the school is located.]

The decade 1950-60 also saw another annexation of area to the district but this time without inheriting a building. This is a corner of the present district in the southwest part, annexed in 1951.

The District's schools became so overcrowded in the early part of the 1950-60 decade, that on January 22 1953 the School Board decided to call a bond election to raise $6,200,000. This would provide $3,960,000 for two high schools in the high school district and $2,240,000 for buildings in the elementary school district. The bonds were approved with no organized opposition on March 12, 1953, with the high school bonds passing 2,359 to 540. The elementary school district bonds were approved by a vote of 2,373 to 528.

Built with this money were new Brown, Duffy and Corbett Elementary Schools, additions to nine existing elementary schools and Pueblo and Catalina High Schools. Also during this period, federal impact funds were received for the building of Bonillas, Keen, Richey and Wright Elementary Schools and Vail Junior High School. Federal funds also helped with the construction of Pueblo and Catalina High Schools.

Brown Elementary School, 1705 N. Sahuara Ave., was completed in 1954. Costing $306,436, it consisted of 16 classrooms and a multipurpose room. Contractor was Murray J. Shiff and the architect was William Carr.

The school was named for teacher Lizzie Brown. She was born in Indiana and taught school 42 years, 36 of them in Tucson. She died March 15 1933 at the age of 82 and was teaching until shortly before her death.

Mrs. Brown was the wife of Rollin Carr Brown, former owner-editor of the Tucson Daily Citizen. She taught school three years at Bentonville, Arkansas, and in California from 1878 to 1881. She was out of the classroom 14 years, during which period she married and became the mother of two children.

In 1895, Mrs. Brown began teaching again in the Rillito District (now Flowing Wells) where the family had homesteaded land. From 1900 to 1933 she taught in School District 1 at the old Mansfeld Elementary School and at Miles School.

Mrs. Brown pioneered special classes for non-English speaking students and remedial work for retarded children in the district.

Guy Bateman was first principal of Brown School.

Duffy Elementary School, 5145 E. 5th St., was completed in 1954. It had 18 classrooms, administrative offices and an all-purpose room. Contractor was Murray J. Shiff who built the school at a cost of $350,852. Terry Atkinson was the architect.

Duffy School was named for five sisters, all of whom taught for District 1. They were Mrs. Mary Duffy Collins, Mrs. Harriett Duffy Murphy, Mrs. Alice Duffy Murphy (who was the first principal of Duffy School), Miss Ida Myrtle Duffy and Mrs. Catherine Duffy Foy.

The five sisters were all born and educated in Tucson, the daughters of pioneers Mr. and Mrs. Martin James Duffy. In 1881, Duffy arrived in Tucson with a construction crew working on the Southern Pacific Railroad line being extended into Tucson. After a few years in Tucson, Duffy sent to Ireland for his bride-to-be, and they were married in 1888 in historic San Augustine Cathedral, now the site of the Greyhound bus depot.

The five Duffy sisters (two brothers died in infancy) attended St. Joseph's Academy in Tucson during elementary grades. This was followed by attendance at Tucson High School, University of Arizona and the State Colleges at Tempe and Flagstaff.

Mrs. Mary Duffy Collins taught 20 years in Tucson Public Schools before retiring. She was at Davis, Drachman and Safford Junior High School. She died April 5, 1959.

Mrs. Harriett Duffy Murphy taught at Julia Keen School and was a principal in Flagstaff city schools at one time. She also was a member of the faculty of Arizona State College at Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona University).

Miss Ida Myrtle Duffy was a teacher at Safford Elementary School. Mrs. Alice Duffy Murphy was principal of Pueblo Gardens Elementary School before becoming principal of Duffy School. Before that she was principal at Elizabeth Borton Elementary School for 21 years and taught at Drachman, University Heights and Safford Elementary Schools.

Mrs. Catherine Duffy Foy was a teacher at Safford Elementary and Twin Buttes Schools for many years.

Present principal at Duffy School is Robert B. Stanley. He replaced Walter B. Rykken, principal since 1956 who retired at the end of the 1966-67 school year.

Corbett Elementary School, 5949 E. 29th St., was built in 1955 by Murray J. Shiff Construction Co. at a cost of $309,429. The original plans, by Jaastad & Knipe, included 16 classrooms, a multi-purpose room and administrative offices. Since that time, 15 classrooms have been added at a cost of $268,323. Eight portable classrooms were installed on nearby land in 1962-63. They have since been removed.

Phillip J. Bramley was the first principal of Corbett School .

The school was named for Johnston Knox Corbett, former mayor of Tucson and District 1 School Board member. He and his brother, W. J. Corbett, were the founders of the present Corbett family in Tucson.

J. Knox Corbett arrived in Tucson in 1880. His first job was that of a newsboy for the Arizona Daily Star, then owned by L. C. Hughes, the uncle of Knox Corbett's future wife. Corbett purchased a freight delivery line operating between Tucson and Silver Bell. He then went to work at the Tucson post office and was soon promoted to assistant postmaster. In 1890 he was appointed Postmaster, a position he held under four U.S. Presidents--Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft. He also engaged in ranching activities near Benson and south of the Rincon Mountains.

Corbett married Lizzie Hughes, daughter of Sam Hughes. Two children were born of the marriage, the late H. S. Corbett, long-time State Senator from Pima County, and Gulie Corbett Bell. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren still reside in Tucson.

Corbett opened the second lumber company in the city and in 1919, he consolidated it with the hardware company of his deceased brother, W. J. Corbett. It became one of the city's largest building supply headquarters.

Corbett died in Tucson on April 22, 1934, at the age of 74.

Pueblo High School, completed in 1956, gave Tucson its second active high school. Pueblo was built by Ashton Construction Co. on 40 acres of land at 3500 S. 12th Avenue. Place and Place were the architects and cost of original building was $1,828,510.

Pueblo was built as a small school but soon additions were needed. Through the years a 2,000-seat stadium, classrooms, shops, industrial education facilities and a library have been added at a total cost of $882,081.

Its swimming pool was built in 1961.

In 1966, a portable classroom was placed on the school grounds and is presently being used as a day-care center for pre-school children under a federal project. In the 1966-67 school year approximately 2,500 students attended Pueblo on double sessions. Elbert D. Brooks, present assistant superintendent of administration and school services in the district, was the first principal of Pueblo.

Pueblo High School came by its name through a request to Brooks from the Board that he take a poll among students of Tucson High School who would attend the new southside high school on its opening. Students submitted a number of names, designating "Pueblo" first. The Board complied with their request.

It is interesting to note that when Pueblo and Catalina High Schools were on the planning boards in 1953, School Board member Delbert L. Secrist wanted to name them "Abraham Lincoln" and "George Washington." His fellow board members didn't go along with the idea.

Catalina and Rincon High Schools followed Pueblo and were named under a new Board policy of calling the schools after local mountain ranges. Before the name "Santa Rita" could be applied to the fifth new high school, however, the policy was changed to name high schools after desert plants species--thus we have "Sahuaro" high school now under construction, "Cholla" high school in the planning stages, and Palo Verde High School, which was the fifth active high school constructed in the District.

Catalina High School, completed in 1957, was designed by Scholer, Sakeller & Fuller, r Architects, and was built by J. J. Craviolini and ; L. C. Anderson at a cost of $2,496,619.

Additional classrooms, shower and locker facilities and a science wing were added later , with 10-cent levy funds and federal aid under Public Law 815. The school now has 65 regular classrooms plus the 8-classroom science wing. R. T. Gridley was the first and present principal of Catalina.

Of the schools built with federal funds , in the mid-1950's--Bonillas, Keen, Richey, Wright and Vail Junior High--Keen was the first.

The original construction at 3538 E. Ellington Place in 1953 provided 12 classrooms and a multi-purpose room for $293,192. Arthur T. Brown was architect, and Murray J. Shiff Construction Co. was the contractor.

In 1956, five classrooms were added at a cost of $94,661, and four portable classrooms were placed on the grounds in 1963.

The elementary school is named for Julia Keen, a teacher with Tucson Public Schools from September, 1908, until she retired in 1951. Miss Keen was one of eight children, four boys and four girls, born to the Andrew J. Keen family in Tucson. Julia was born on December 0, 1885. She attended St. Joseph's Academy and decided to become a teacher. Since District l in those days would not hire an inexperienced teacher, she first taught at Metcalf, Arizona, for three years, coming back to Tucson in September, 1908, to teach for Tucson Public Schools. She taught at Safford and Davis Elementary Schools for a period of 10 years and then was made principal of Drachman Elementary School where she served until her retirement.

Of Miss Keen, Oliver Drachman said at the Keen School dedication ceremony:

"Miss Keen's love for children has made her an outstanding person in the eyes of her pupils, her teachers, the administrative staff and the parents of her pupils. . . Miss Keen's devotion to her school and pupils was not limited. If they needed food, she would see that they were fed until someone else could take over. If they needed clothing, she would manage in some way to get clothing for them. If the family had a problem, she always had a willing ear to listen and to see what could be done to help them." Miss Keen died July 31, 1958.

Mrs. Virginia W. McBride, present principal, was the first principal of the school.

A month after Keen School opened on December 7, 1953, Bonillas Elementary School was opened at 4711 E. 16th St., the second school to be built during the decade with federal money.

Leonard Daily was the contractor, building the 16-classroom and multi-purpose room school or $386,777. M. H. Starkweather was the architect. Eight classrooms were added in 1955 at a cost of $95,048. Opening day found the school on double sessions and the following year all third and fourth graders were transported to Duffy School while an eight-room addition was being built.

First Hundred Years, By James F. Cooper, Edited by John H. Fahr, Tucson, Arizona, 1967