Marshfield, February 1903: The many incarnations of Grant Elementary School
After multiple relocations, how the school came to stand where it does today
By Kris Leonhardt
As settlers continued to arrive in Marshfield, the growing burg stretched farther and farther into the vastly untamed countryside. By 1903 the city looked to add a new school to the four already established in the Marshfield system.
Already present were the Fourth Ward School, built in 1896 and later named Lincoln School, and the Richfield School, constructed just three years later. There was also the Central Avenue School, constructed the same year as the Richfield School, later named Washington School. One year after that came the high school facilities, later named McKinley High School.
When residents opened their newspapers an early February day in 1903, they were greeted by the impending plans to add a school in the First Ward of the city.
A massive brick and stone building would encompass a little over 15 lots of the city on the then named streets of C and D in the First Ward.
The school would be built to last with two large state-of-the-art furnaces heating four oversized classrooms with restrooms connected to each. The much needed addition to the city would require about $10,000.
By the fall construction would be completed on the First Ward School in time to welcome in approximately 150 students for the new school year.
Located on the corner of North Oak Avenue and West Cleveland Street, the school, later renamed Grant School, would continue to usher students through its doors for about 60 years until the city recognized its deteriorating condition.
At that time the school board purchased approximately 14.5 acres of land just northeast of St. Joseph’s Hospital. In 1963 a new school facility was completed at the new location, and the original school building was torn down, and the property reverted back to the city.
North Oak Street would later undergo a reconstruction that would send the street right through the heart of the property, leaving a small wedge of unused land.
Using the original playground equipment left from the first Grant School building, the Grant Mini-Park was created out of the remaining land. The park would honor the previous existence of the school for the long-term.
When Marshfield began to experience overcrowding in their schools, the School District looked into more changes and formulated a gradual plan to ease the burden on the school system.
In 1990 the School District began the first stage of that plan, which involved constructing a new building to replace the nearly 30-year-old Grant School facility.
In an arrangement with the Marshfield Clinic, the District obtained 14 acres of land to the northeast of the second facility on which to construct the third Grant School building. Included in this arrangement was the purchase of the school built in 1960 by the already massive clinic.
The new Grant School was opened in 1992. The school currently provides an education to some 665 students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade, focusing on the core values of “Respect, Responsibility, Readiness, and doing what’s Right.”