Adams School was built in 1907, and was called the Fairview school as it was located in the southeastern part of Yakima in what was known as the Fairview District. The building was a two story frame structure, heated by stoves. The janitor built the fires in the morning but teachers, or pupils kept them going during the day. There were no electric lights.
Miss Minnie Larson, now Mrs. James Loudon, was the first principal. She was followed in the fall of 1908 by Miss Anna Koontz. There were six grades in this school with from 150 to 175 pupils. Playground space was limited as the lots on the north side of the building were covered with sagebrush, so the boys went to vacant lots at a distance from the school for their games. At mid-year in 1909 Miss L. Maud Bowman was made principal and remained in that position till fall of 1931.
During her regime the school grew rapidly. In 1911 four rooms were added on the west making room for all the eight grades, and the name was changed to “Adams. “ A furnace replaced the stove. Through the efforts of the teachers and pupils the lawn was extended and trees were planted. Some of these were donated by the Woman’s Club.
About 1916 the school Board purchased the property north of the school, and the sagebrush was cleared off giving the school one of the largest playgrounds in the city.
Adams, as well as other schools on the east side of town, was given playground equipment by a spirited attorney. This was enjoyed until there was an accident, on another school ground, resulting in a lawsuit after which the school Directors ruled all playground apparatus be removed.
Before the days of the P.T.A. a “Social Center” was organized at Adams and evening meetings of the patrons were held. Later there were Mothers’ meetings every two months. This movement was greatly assisted by Mrs. Howard Lucas, Mrs. H. M. Gilbert and Mrs. F. W. Nagler.
Lights in the halls were so poor lamps had to be provided to allow the women to find their way down the stairs.
One of the first P. T. A.’s was organized at Adams but because of removal from the district of woman who were leaders it existed only a few years.
In the early days school gardens were sponsored by the School Board. Adams won first prize once and second prize twice. On one occasion pupils were horrified to find one morning that their garden, which they were sure would be a prize winner, had been partially destroyed during the night, presumably by pupils from a rival school.
Adams School had no large room which could be used as an auditorium so for seven or eight years outstanding Spring Festivals were given out doors. Each room contributed a number to the program. It was a gala affair attended by many patrons and friends who were seated on chairs on the lawn, or stood to witness the performance. The steps at the east entrance served as a stage.
During her twenty-one and a half years as principal of Adams School Miss Bowman worked to raise scholarship standards and when she finally resigned to further her own education it was with regret that her patrons, pupils and teachers saw her depart.
In the fall of 1931 Miss Nellie McKinney was transferred from the Barge School to the principalship at Adams which at this time had an enrollment of about 425.
There were ten school rooms, including the two stove-heated portables. These portables were small rooms with children’s desks too close to the stoves and the outside walls, making it impossible to regulate the heat. In early fall and late spring they were too hot and in midwinter too cold.
During the years 1931 to 1933 Madison and Adams Schools had a joint Parent Teacher Association with Mrs. E. J. Ambrose of Madison president the first year and Mrs. A. L. Wardall of Adams the second. In the Spring of 1933 it was voted to dissolve the joint organization and elections were held for each school with the new officers for Adams school as follows:
President Mrs. Arthur Wulff
Vice President Mrs. Arthur Spencer
Secretary Miss Rosemarie Chabert
Treasurer Mrs. Alan Lotz
From its inception the P.T.A was a most important adjunct to Adams School. They began by sponsoring the Adams Boy Scout Troop with Everett Rhine as leader until he severed his connections with the school. Later they sponsored the Camp Fire Girls, Blue Birds, and the Cub Scouts.
The organization made money for the school by giving food sales, card parties, popsicle and candy sales, holding dances, and were most generous with their time and money in all school carnivals, puppet shows, hobby shows, and moving picture shows.
The school grew rapidly during the next several years and as the building was already overcrowded the P.T.A worked for an auditorium where children could play in bad weather, assemblies could be held and P.T.A members might sit in comfort during meetings instead of in children’s desks.
During the years 1934-1942 Adams School enrollment grew till other additions were necessary. The auditorium was finally used as a schoolroom where Mrs. Hazel Confer, now Mrs. Frank Homes, taught her third grade under most trying circumstances but always with outstanding cheerfulness.
Two years after the auditorium was built a wing was added to the north side of it. This gave four primary class rooms and a modern kitchen with counter opening into the auditorium, which made a fine cafeteria. On this side also were a teachers’ rest room and the boys’ lavatory, while on the south side of the auditorium was a new entrance with a fine library room on one side and offices on the other. The girls’ lavatory was in the east end of this wing. The entire new part was of brick and the old building was covered with brick veneer, making a fine new appearance.
Adams School is located on Adams Street, which for years was a main thoroughfare leading to the fairgrounds and to Moxee. Children on the playground were constantly in danger as balls would escape them and it was almost impossible to keep them from dashing into the street. Finally, during the W.P.A. era, a substantial rock wall was built and worries in that score were over.
The next year after the second addition there was an enrollment of 605 so it became necessary to extend the new wing and two more primary rooms were built on the north. These rooms were larger and gave a nice finish to the building.
Miss Rosemarie Chabert and Miss Verna Eastman, who had suffered with the old portables, were more than happy to have nice schoolrooms for their pupils with convenient and pleasant working conditions.
During the years 1934 to 1943 there were many desperately poor people in the Adams School District. Much of the increased enrollment was caused by people who had come from drought areas in other states, having lost or left their farms, and many children were poorly clad and poorly fed.
Many were given free lunch tickets so were able to have good meals at noon from the school cafeteria. Also, they were given milk at morning recess.
Citizens of the town were most generous. One winter for months Mrs. Fred Fischer sent many quarts of milk daily, but all were given strict instructions not to divulge the name of the donor.
The Kiwanis Club sent money, $180.00, during these years and the American Legion $65.00. Smaller donations came from various organizations: Chapter BX of P.E.O., Mrs. Olding’s Rainbow Girls, Minnie Y. Lucas Circle, Mrs. Harvey Young’s Young Ladies, The Coterie Club and the Portia Club. There were individual gifts from Mrs. LaGrande Young, our school secretary, Mr. B. F. Kumler, Mr. Ray derby, Miss Charlotte Corn, Mr. Everett Rhine and from two patrons of our school, Mrs. George Broom, Sr. and Mrs. Melton. Also, the school store gave small amounts frequently. Most of this money was spent for shoes and rubbers with an occasional haircut, or pair of mittens or hose.
There were many fine things done to help Adams pupils. A group of women came at 3:30 Thursday afternoons and conducted sewing classes for girls. Chief among these were Mrs. E. J. Newcomer, Mrs. Louis Ulrich, Mrs. LaGrande Young, and Mrs. Leslie A. Nichols. The ladies taught the girls to darn hose, make simple undergarments and dress dolls.
Many of these under-privileged children lived in small homes with no opportunity for privacy, so, when the new lavatories were built, a shower was put in each. Towels were supplies by the office and a shower schedule was made allowing twenty minutes of school time for a shower. As living conditions improved the requests decreased and in later years school showers were discontinued except under the direction of the sports coach.
Adams School has been most fortunate in having patrons whose untiring efforts added equipment, beauty and pleasure for all.
During the years Mrs. Wulff was P.T.A president it was a struggle to keep interest in the organization. However, in her second year they had a Christmas party in one of the schoolrooms and gave each child a popcorn ball. In March, 1934, the ladies gave the Council Luncheon in the old upstairs office. There were about 45 percent and all food but the coffee was brought from their homes. The price was 25 cents a plate and they cleared $8.30.
Some of the other indefatigable workers during the 1930’s were Mrs. Albert Carpenter, president in 1935 and 1936, Mrs. Louis Wolfe, Mrs. Harvey Lewis, Mrs. John Phelps, Mrs. Orlo Hopkins and Mrs. Mason Stone, president in 1939.
At this time the Adams School Library was struggling and the P.T.A. helped by earning money for books and picture frames. They also assisted the teachers, who were putting on a May Day Festival, by making all the colored crepe paper dresses which the children wore.
A notable fact of the early 1940’s was that Mrs. Wilbur Linn, Mrs. J. H. McFall, Mrs. Harlan Eden, Mrs. Leonard Evans, Mrs. Frank Beach, Mrs. J. W. Carlile, Mrs. Rowe Adams and Mrs. Gella McWain all had children in Miss Rosemarie Chabert’s first grade at the same time. All were active in P.T.A. for years and most of them became presidents.
The Parent Teacher Association was always ready to help with any project for the betterment of the school. They gave money for shrubs, lengthened the stage curtains, which were shrunk when steam from a radiator escaped, and sent lilac roots for a hedge as a boundary on the north edge of the playground. The block was divided into as many sections as there were schoolrooms and the children prepared the soil, and then planted their lilacs. It was hoped they would be a barrier to keep balls from going into the neighbors’ yards.
Another Arbor Day was observed by planting trees in the parking strip on South Eighth Street. Each room was given a spot in which to plant a tree. Children, under their teacher’s supervision, dug the hole, put in fertilizer, brought from home, and a bottle in which they had the date, names of all children participating, and any other pertinent information they wished, and finally planted their tree. The P.T.A. gave the money for the trees.
People of this district took pleasure in doing things for the school. Many contributed to evening meetings of P.T.A., among them the Renton family with their orchestra in which each member had a part. Mr. David Bradford delighted all with his trick banjo, as did Mr. Arthur Wulff with his musical saw. Miss Mary Remy skillfully painted some of our sephia pictures and made them things of beauty. Mr. and Mrs.
Paul Thompson presented the school with play equipment, see-saws, on which primary children loved to play.
For two years Mrs. Pearl Klein held classes for religious instruction once a week in the Adams district. As first these were in private homes, but later she received permission from the School Board to use the school auditorium after school hours and usually there were approximately two hundred in attendance.
The school store, for years, occupieda corner of the auditorium stage. It supplied all school material children needed to buy and older children were the clerks. All money cleared from sales was used to purchase things to improve the school.
Some of the major purchases made with gifts from P.T.A., the school store fund, and proceeds of moving picture shows in the school auditorium, were a record playing radio, several large pieces of playground equipment and an Ampro moving picture machine, the Ampro costing $486. Of this the P.T.A. gave $182.00, the school board $147.00, and the Adams fund provided the remaining $157.
One of the lovely programs put on by the school was at Christmas time. The week before the stage was beautifully decorated with a dark blue background on which silver stars were scattered with the largest shining down on the Little Town of Bethlehem, which was made by the artistic primary teachers, Miss Rosemarie Chabert, Miss Rosaline Wakin, Miss Alma Lang and Miss Charlotte Corn, chief among these. The scene extended across the entire stage with an evergreen tree at each end. These trees were decorated in silver foil, or icicles, and blue lights.
The program itself varied from year to year, but it was always the Christmas Story. Some years this was by tableaux with the manger scene, wise men dressed in robes and head dresses which had come from Jerusalem, having been brought by Mr. and Mrs. David Wakin. There were little angels, especially memorable being two little colored angels. There was the choir of children marching in white robes, each child carrying a song book with the cross on the cover.
Some years the Christmas Story was read by an angel dressed in a long white robe and with flying trees. She would stand on a raised platform with the Christmas scene behind her. At appropriate places in her reading she would pause and the children, seated by grades upon the floor, would sing the carol which had been assigned their group. Almaria Wulff, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wulff, was one of the girls who took the part of an angel. These programs were for the pupils and teachers, and were always enjoyed immensely.
This article would be incomplete if more were not said about the wonderful help, cooperation, loyalty, and devotion which Miss McKinney always received from her teachers. They were skillful in their work, conscious of the needs of their pupils, and always ready to help them, as well as herself, whenever they could. Three of them, Miss Anna Joice, Mrs. Vera Cornvell and Miss Rosemarie Chabert were with her in Adams the entire sixteen years of her service and naturally they held a special place in her heart.
Outstanding, also, was the fact that Mrs. Arthur Wulff had the distinction of belonging to P.T.A. longer than any other member as she joined in 1928 and was still an active member in 1953 though her children were gone from Adams school.
Owing to ill health, Miss McKinney found it necessary to retire in February, 1947, after forty-two years in the teaching profession, of which thirty-six years had been in Yakima. For the remainder of the school year Miss Joice served as principal in addition to her own work as teacher of one of the sixth grades. The next year Miss Calla Whiteley of Madison School served as principal at Adams, but in September, 1948, when the new Hoover School was opened, she went to take charge of it. Mr. Eyler L. Elliott then became principal at Adams and continued there for several years, until he was transferred to Garfield, and Mr. Joe L. Brown was then transferred from Barge to the principalship at Adams, which position he ably holds today, November, 1953.