The originale Washington Elementary School was located in the area of Third Street and Cleveland. The eight room brick school was a part of a $100,000 bond passed to build seven schools for the fast growing city of Wichita. It opened in 1890 and was called the Third Ward School, but was also known as East Third Street Public School. On April 7, 1890, it was named Washington School after the first president in response to a petition to the Board of Education. Other schools built at th same time were McCormick, Riverside, Kellogg, College Hill and Harry Street. Only McCormick’s original structure stands today.
Due to a growing need for expansion, on October 7, 1918, an architect was employed to prepare building plans for a new 16-18 room building on the present site at Hydraulic and Third. “Buffalo Bill” Matthewson, a shrewd cattleman and businessman, owned the property. He was reluctant to sell. Upon his death in 1915, the land was divided up and the school district purchased the pasture at Central and Hydraulic. Plans and specifications were approved May 12, 1918 in the total amount of $174,108. A new Washington Grade School was built. The school was completed and ready for occupancy the fall of 1921. The old site was demolished and its original cornerstones were used in constructing Roosevelt Intermediate School.
At the time the present structure was built, the school served a well-established middle-income area. With Central Avenue serving as a main traffic artery for the core business area of the city, the school was readily accessible as an attendance center.
Due to its location in an area easily accessible to the services of city transportation lines, Washington early became a center for special education classes. The “Sunshine Room” served the physically handicapped children, and because of this program a cafeteria was installed. However, in 1959-60, the Sunshine Room was discontinued. Washington School also became an early center for the educable mentally handicapped program in the Wichita Public Schools and continued until 1990 when the program was moved to another site to make room for students of gifted education and bilingual education. In 1994, an interrelated special education program was added for 28 students with special needs in learning disability, behavioral disorders and EMR.
At the beginning of the 1988-89 year, sixth grade students were incorporated into the middle school program, leaving a PK-5 enrollment of around 375.
Socio-economic changes saw the school gradually go from an all white to 49 percent black population in 1970-71. With the institution of the integration program in 1971-72, the black enrollment was reduced and stabilized at approximately 30 percent.
In April 2000, the voters of the Wichita School District approved a $284.5 million bond issue. The projects began in the fall of 2000 and were completed over the next five years. The plan built 19 multipurpose rooms, upgraded science labs, replaced portable classrooms with permanent construction, improved handicap accessibility to all buildings, rebuilt five existing elementary schools, added a new elementary and middle school, expanded seven other elementary schools and provided nine new libraries as well as the expansion of nine others. Building infrastructure in 82 buildings was also upgraded, including the replacement of antiquated plumbing, updates and expansion of electrical systems, replacement of inefficient or broken windows and doors, upgrades of heating and cooling systems, and asbestos abatement when required.
The district entered into an agreement with the architectural firm of Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey for a four-section elementary school prototype to be built at Washington and Horace Mann. Key Construction completed these projects.
The district purchased property at 352 and 356 N. Pennsylvania and also 355 N. Hydraulic to construct parking lots and to replace property lost to building construction.
The old Washington school was demolished in August 2003. The bond celebration for the new school was held August 21, 2003.