Back to School time is a great time to take a look back at the history of some of the schools (and educators) in St. Charles. Earlier this week we shared some history of Anderson Elementary School. As we mentioned in that post Anderson, Davis, and Richmond schools were all built in the same year using the same floor plans to save money. Today we thought we would share some history of Davis and Richmond schools. Since we shared the information on the buildings yesterday, we will focus on the women these schools are named for in today’s post.
Davis Elementary School was named for teacher and principal, Alice Davis. Miss Davis was born in Chicago but her family moved to St. Charles when she was a schoolgirl. Alice attended the West Side School and the St. Charles High School (also known as the Charles Haines School) located on the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Main Street. After her high school graduation in 1901, Alice attended the DeKalb Normal School for teacher training. Today the DeKalb Normal School is Northern Illinois University. Over the next 16 years Alice would intermittently return to St. Charles and teach both at the West Side School and the Charles Haines School. When she was not here teaching, she was furthering her own education first at Northwestern University in Evanston and later at the University of Chicago. For nine years Alice lived in River Forest and Highland Park teaching junior high.
In 1919 Miss Davis returned to St. Charles for good. She went back to teaching the junior high students at the Charles Haines School and in the mid-1920’s she became Principal of the Haines Junior High. Alice retired in 1950 and in 1956 was honored for her dedication to St. Charles schools with a grade school named in her honor. Alice was always interested in history, she wrote the first St. Charles history book “The Settlement and Growth of St. Charles”, her students created dioramas depicting various scenes from St. Charles history, and at one time she served as the President of the St. Charles Historical Society. In addition to her service in the schools and her interest in history Miss Davis was also active in the local Women’s Business and Professional Club, and in the Congregational Church of St. Charles.
While Miss Davis will long be remembered for her many accomplishments and contributions to St. Charles, she will also be remembered for her longtime classroom companion, a cocker spaniel named Rowdy. The dog, who belonged to a friend and neighbor of Miss Davis, began accompanying her to school during WWII. Rowdy would sit quietly under her desk during the school day, and on Fridays would attend the school assembly with the 7th and 8th grade students. Prior to Miss Davis retiring the St. Charles School Board presented Rowdy with a Certificate of Promotion from 8th Grade. Many former students remember Rowdy and have fond memories of the class mascot, one even told a story about feeding the dog ice cream from time to time.
Richmond Elementary School was named for Harriet Richmond, another teacher and principal in St. Charles. Miss Richmond’s family was one of the early families to settle in the St. Charles area and was very involved in the community. Miss Richmond’s brother Ralph was a mayor of St. Charles, and her mother was the first female member on the St. Charles School Board. Miss Richmond herself severed the St. Charles schools for thirty-one years, first as a teacher and later as Principle of the East Side School (later Lincoln School).
Today Davis and Richmond schools are more closely connected than ever. Several years ago Davis and Richmond were combined and they are no longer each elementary schools. Davis is now Davis Primary School for grades K-2, and Richmond is now Richmond Intermediate School for grades 3-5. Did you attend Davis or Richmond?