University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

8. Education,   pp. 147-164


Page 154

street from the church. The new St. Paul's School, a two-story, brick school building with a
raised basement, was constructed at 164 S. Academy St. in 1927-1929. ( Directory of St. Paul's
Evangelical Lutheran Church 1988:2-5)
In 1955, St. Paul's congregation moved from its Academy Street location to a new church on
South Ringold Street, and in 1956, the congregation sold the Academy Street school building.
After meeting in makeshift quarters for several years, St. Paul's parochial school finally
moved into a modem school building in 1963 at 210 S. Ringold St, where it has remained until
today. Because of its historic association with parochial primary education in Janesville, the
old St. Paul's School (164 S. Academy St.) is potentially individually eligible for the National
Register of Historic Places and is listed as a contributing resource in the Old Fourth Ward
Historic District. The modem St. Paul's School is not, at this time, significant or individually
potentially eligible for the National Register.
Janesville's only other parochial school, located at 709 Milton Ave., established in the mid-
1960s, is attached to St. Matthews Lutheran Church. It is not potentially individually eligible
for the National Register due to its recent construction date.
Secondary Education, Public
During Wisconsin's early years, secondary education was provided primarily by private
academies that emphasized modem languages, mathematics, literature, and modem history.
Free public high schools were slow to develop in small communities, although the larger cities
in the state developed high school programs by the 1850s. The first public high school in the
state was established at Kenosha in 1849. In 1856, the legislature authorized two or more
districts to form a union high school district. By 1870, 14 communities were offering high school
programs. In 1875, the legislature passed the Free High School Law that provided some state
aid to high schools. By 1900, there were over 200 high schools in the state, and by the mid-
twentieth century, there were over 400. Like public primary schools, the public high schools,
along with junior high or middle schools, are an integral part of the broad public education
system offered in Wisconsin today. (Wyatt 1986; vol. 3, Education 3-1-3-7)
The development of the public high school program in Janesville followed the pattern above.
In 1843, some prominent residents of Janesville received a charter to establish an academy. Its
founders built a stone building at 10 S. High St. (not extant), and the school opened in 1844.
After the union school system was instituted in Janesville in 1855, the new school board
purchased the academy building (10 S. High St., not extant) and established the public high
school program there, known briefly as the Janesville Free Academy. The public high school
staff probably took over the academy's academic program as the foundation for Janesville's
public high schools. (Brigham 1859:31-32; Cadman 1959:8; Janesville Public Schools 1897:67)
The academy building was soon deemed unsuitable, so in 1857, a new high school building was
erected just east of the Rock County Courthouse. The new high school (Jefferson Park, not
extant), completed in 1859, was a three-story Italianate building that included primary school
rooms for the Third Ward and a teacher training program. The new Janesville High School
was a showplace in the community, but it was not built without opposition. Many people
thought building a new high school would increase taxes and that the old academy building
should be renovated instead. (Brigham 1859:33-34; Cadman 1959:12-14)
The new showplace high school served the community only until the 1890s. By that time,
growing city population and an increased interest in the high school program boosted the
student population. Along with a space problem, the curriculum in the high school program
had changed. Commercial, manual, and domestic arts courses were added, requiring new
Education
154


Go up to Top of Page