Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Lucas and Cleveland schools combined, 1906

I wish that I could say there was a carefully thought out reason for publishing this photograph of the Lucas school as it appeared in 1906. But the truth of the matter is, I frittered away too much of Monday installing a new printer/scanner at the museum, wanted to test its scanning capabilities and grabbed the first photo that came to hand.

But it all works out --- I wrote a little about the mining camps of Cleveland and East Cleveland yesterday in relationship to the Carter and Spears families.

By the time this photo was taken, both platted and incorporated Cleveland and unincorporated and unplatted East Cleveland were ghost towns. There still were working mines in the Lucas area, but all of the Whitebreast mines had long since closed. A majority of the miners, black and white, who had worked in the Whitebreast mines lived in Cleveland and East Cleveland and when the mines closed about 1890, most followed the jobs to other mines or found alternate occupations. Those who didn't found jobs in the Lucas mines.

When all three communities were thriving, they were served by three school districts --- Lucas, Cleveland and East Cleveland --- each with its own building. By 1892, very few people remained in East Cleveland so its school building, smaller than the others, was sold and its remaining students relocated into Cleveland.

A couple of years later, the student population of the Cleveland School had declined to the point it was no longer practical to operate it independently. As a result, the Lucas and Cleveland districts consolidated and, during the summer of 1896, the old Cleveland school building --- nearly identical to the Lucas School building --- was moved to the latter's hilltop location in Lucas and attached to form a "T" shaped eight-room school, four classrooms per floor. 

In this photo, the old Cleveland school forms the wing at left and the original Lucas school, by some accounts built in 1884, is in the foreground.

At the time this photo was taken in 1906, the Lucas district also operated a two-room school in the west part of town, but that was sold shortly thereafter and the proceeds invested in the bigger building. Improvements included a central heating plant (formerly, class rooms were heated individually by stoves) and a coat of stucco.

This building served the district until Dec. 12, 1932, when fire blamed on an overheated furnace broke out about 8 a.m., just as teachers and staff --- but few pupils yet --- were gathering. There were no injuries, but the building and all of its contents were destroyed.

The current Lucas school building, designed by Chariton architect William Lee Perkins, was built during 1933. It no longer functions as a school, however, and is privately owned.

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