Maturity Journal, June 2007

Article was typed as it was worded in the newspaper.

Those Were the Days

by Pat Sides, Archivist, Willard Library

The month of May was special to Wheeler School students in 1955, not just because it heralded the end of the academic year, but because it also marked the school's centennial. On the 22nd of the month, former and current students, as well as parents and faculty, gathered to celebrate the distinctive event; the group included individuals who had graduated from Wheeler as early as 1881.

Located at 310 Mulberry Street, Wheeler was the first public school erected in the city. It served as Evansville High School (later, Central High School) until 1863, when a new school building for older students opened at Seventh and Vine Streets. The school on Mulberry Street then became an elementary school and was first called Canal Street School, the street's original name. In 1916, the building was named after Horatio Q. Wheeler, who helped to establish Evansville's school system in the mid-nineteenth century.

During the centennial festivities, the Wheeler band, directed by Hugo Schuessler, entertained the crowd of about 300, as principal Paul Jennings unveiled a plaque sculpted by George Honig.

It recognized Wheeler School as the "oldest Indiana school continuously operated on original site." A pageant, depicting each phase of the school's history, was also presented by students, who didn't allow the rain to dampen their spirits.

But the end of Wheeler's long, proud history was not yet in sight. Numerous renovations had kept the school alive for decades, but it closed its doors permanently in June 1972. The property was purchased at auction by its neighbor, the Welborn Baptist Hospital, for "temporary" use as a parking lot, according to hospital officials. Wheeler School finally fell victim to the wrecker's ball in March 1974, but the vacant lot its demolition created is still there.