Local school system sprang from the Clay

from the archives of The News-Sentinel

The Fort Wayne Community Schools System sprang from the clay in 1857 - the Clay School, that is.

The Clay School opened on Feb. 9 1857, at the corner of Clay Street and Washington Boulevard. It was the first school ever built by the fledgling Fort Wayne public schools system.

The 573-student school was built on land acquired for $1,300 and cost just $10,000 to erect. Its opening, understandably, was a significant occasion for young Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel reported the opening ceremony this way: ``The large building was densely crowded with ladies and gentlemen ... the school is a beautiful and spacious building ... strict order and discipline must be observed. This is a fact parents should impress upon their children.''

But the original Clay School didn't last long. Fire destroyed the city's first public school on Feb. 22, 1894.

The saga of Clay School doesn't end there, though.

Just like the phoenix, the Clay School rose from its own ashes. A new 12-room, $43,000 brick school was completed later in 1894 at the same location.

The reborn school, however, was vacant within 30 years. The school system closed its doors after the 1927-1928 school year because the administration considered the school a fire trap.

The administration's caution was well-founded. Like its predecessor, the second Clay School was consumed by fire in 1931. The land was finally sold to two Fort Wayne attorneys in 1944.

June 19, 1982

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