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School History

Bridges School/Fairfax School

Lewis and Clark landed, in 1804, at what today forms a peninsula that juts out from the Fairfax Industrial District in Kansas City, Kan.   This area of the city was named after Fairfax, Virginia, a wasteland made useful by similar dredging methods.

Fairfax area was part of the Kansas City school system from 1920 until 1929 and children went to KCK schools.  When Fairfax Industrial District withdrew in 1929, it was with the sanction of the Board of Education.

(Note:  “District 46, Fairfax, was organized in 1920 and was annexed to Kansas City, Kansas on June 6, 1950.  It had no school building. – “History and Growth of Wyandotte County Education System,” Lewis D. Wiard, County Supt. of Schools, 19 Sept 1963.)

1940:  The Army Air Corps picks the Fairfax district of Kansas City, Kansas, for a bomber plant to run by North American Aviation. Plans include the employment of between 8,000 and 12,000 persons–the work force will actually top 26,000.

North American Aviation – Kansas (Fairfax District)  

Between December 1941, and August 1945, over 50,000 employees built 6,608 B-25 bombers in the Fairfax District.  The bomber that Jimmy Doolittle flew on his famous raid over Tokyo came from Fairfax.

In 1942, the Government built a ten-room, frame building at 3100 N. 9th Street to serve families of war production workers in the Quindaro Homes area. The building cost the government approximately $70,000.   The Board of Education of District #46 purchased the building from the Federal Works Administration on January 7, 1947 for $14,000.  A move by Washington Rural High School to annex Fairfax was met with protests.

The first payroll records appear with the 1943-44 school year.

Five years later, District #46 disorganized and Fairfax School was attached to the Kansas City , Kansas school system. A Writ of Attachment was received from George Bell, Wyandotte County Superintendent, on August 20.  [Note – Information found in past records of the Fairfax PTA:  In 1943, on October 1, the Fairfax Parent Teachers Association was organized.  Organizers were Mr. F. L. Schlagle, Supt. of KCKs schools, and Mrs. Albert T. Jenkins, president of the City Council of P.T.A.  Mrs. Grace Eulich, parliamentarian of the City Council assisted a special By-Laws Committee in drawing up the by-laws which were later approved by Mrs. W. R. Ioder, of the City Council.  Soon after this, the charter was granted by Mrs. E. W. Emery, State President.  Mrs. E. Rowland, Fairfax PTA Historian]

1949:   Industry was attracted by low taxes in Fairfax.  Most of the Fairfax taxes went to rural high schools.  When the board learned of a bill before the legislature for the incorporation of the Fairfax district, it took immediate steps through its attorney, Thomas Van Cleave, to have the way left open for annexation.

On March 21, board members appealed to the mayor and commissioners to take steps toward annexing the whole district.  The section containing the airport was annexed on April 2 when the incorporation bill was defeated.  The city planned to go ahead with the acquisition of the rest of the district.  The Chamber of Commerce went on record as opposing the move.

1950:  The board was encouraged by an increase in property valuation of $4,500,000 which permitted increased services without a rise in the levy.  As the ordinance passed by the city to annex Fairfax was declared invalid in October, revenue from that district was not available.

1951:  Flood – July 13, 1951 – “Black Friday” – Mere words cannot express the suffering that areas of Argentine, Turner, Armourdale, Fairfax, and the West Bottoms went through. The clean up work was staggering as much of Argentine was covered by a layer of mud several feet thick.  The final step bringing Fairfax, District #46, into the KCKs school district was a writ of attachment signed by County Superintendent George Bell on August 20.  This was made possible under school legislation passed in the last session of the state legislature. About $225,000 in increased revenue would result from the move.

“In 1956, the city undertook its first annexation in thirty-one years. Additional small annexations followed in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1963, adding areas to the city that for the most part had long been developed. The reason most often given by previous administrations for the protracted delay in the much needed expansion of the city was that they wished to have the issue of annexation of Fairfax resolved first. — The development of the Fairfax Industrial District was begun in 1923 by the Kansas City Industrial Land Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, on the Missouri River bottom land northeast of the older sections of the city. The Depression hindered development, but the late 1930s and ’40s saw Fairfax grow extensively. Originally, the architectural design of the buildings was controlled (most of it being done by a single architect, Charles E. Keyser) and landscaping was required, making Fairfax a model industrial area. During the McCombs years, a so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” had kept the City from any attempt to annex Fairfax, but the agreement apparently expired with McCombs’ retirement. The City first tried to annex the area in 1949, beginning years of litigation. The principal attorney in the fight against the City was Joseph H. McDowell, who had been elected state senator in 1948 following his defeat in the mayoral race. Final settlement in favor of the City did not come until 1962, well after the shift in the City’s political makeup.”  Kansas City Planning Department

In 1958, a new building (Fairfax Elementary) was planned, to be located at 3101 N. 10th Street. Charles Mullin was the architect and this was the first school in the area to be heated by electricity. The contract was awarded to Bennett Construction, with construction beginning in January, 1959. Fairfax was the last project under the 1953 bond issue. In February of 1960, students of Fairfax School moved into the new Fairfax Elementary building.

1960 – May 9: Dedication of 14 classrooms, library, health room, office. Site is 3.5 acres, extending from 9th to 10th with school facing 10th Street. Completely electrified. Lewis Brotherson, Business Manager for Board of Education, talked about a “Nice Climate of Learning”.

Fairfax Learning Center - 2003In 1972, there was an addition of an annex (9th Street) to absorb the enrollment from the Dunbar area and Hawthorne. The annex was built as two-story, open classroom units.  This annex sits on the ground that formerly housed the school built by the government in 1940 for families of war production workers in the Quindaro Homes area.

In 1984, the Career Learning Center was housed in the annex, closing 1997-98. The building was used in 1999-2000 to house Chelsea students until new Chelsea School was ready for occupation.

In 2003, the Bridges program (formerly at Whittier School at 10th & Gilmore) occupied the Fairfax Elementary building at 3101 N. 10th Street, and the Fairfax Learning Center (an alternative school) occupies the annex at 3016 N. 9th Street.

2004 – Restructuring of the district’s alternative education programs has been a result of insufficient funding of public schools by the state Legislature.  The former Fairfax Elementary School on 10th Street, with the annex on 9th Street, is now referred to as the Fairfax Campus.  Programs here include the TREC Small Learning Community, Bridges Small Learning Community and the Chronic Behavior Small Learning Community.

The accredited alternative high school is now located at the Education Center (4601 State Avenue, KCKs). The site was formerly J. C. Penny’s Retail at the Indian Springs Mall/Marketplace.

2004 – Received a “Great IDEAS” grant (funded/sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Fund) for the 2004-05 school year, which encourages teachers in SLC’s (Small Learning Communities) to work together to develop innovative programs and projects to improve student learning.  Received $2,600.