Franklin: The School with No Name

Franklin School opened its doors in 1927, but it did it without a name on the front of the school. It was the only school in the district with no outward identification.

It wasn’t until 1971 that the 8-inch-high white plastic letters were placed above the door. Money for the sign was raised by the Student Council, which sold school supplies and held a used book sale.

Franklin came about because of western expansion

The Cape County school web site has an interesting history of Franklin School that I’m going to borrow from.

Due to rapid growth in the west part of town, the Cape Girardeau Board of Education looked into expanding the school district in 1925. On November 2, 1925, six acres were purchased at a price of $14,000.00 to build Franklin School. A bond issue for $300,000.00 for the purchase and erection of the school was passed. For a contracted price of $179,611.00, work on Franklin School began.

Bond issue would replace Franklin School

Voters will go to the polls April 6 to decide, among other things, whether or not to replace Franklin. A Southeast Missourian story quoted Neil Glass, director of administrative services, as saying, “It was by far in the best interest of our students to go with a new school,” he said.

… Franklin is the oldest of the district’s five elementary schools. As he looked at seismic upgrades and other renovations, Glass said the scope of the project grew.

“Before we knew it, we were at $11.8 million,” he said. Cost estimates for a new two-story building are $10.02 million. Glass said it would be built behind the current building and would include the school’s gym.

First Ben Franklin was 14″ high

From the history site: On January 13, 1928, Franklin School received a 14” bust statuette of Benjamin Franklin from the Franklin History Club of Central High School.

The current Ben Franklin statue was carved by A. W. Birk. He did an original carving in 1999; this one replaced it in 2006.

Teacher’s pay in 1960: $3,800

From the history site: In 1960 teachers’ salaries were increased. A teacher with a B.S. degree will start at $3800.00 and in 9 years will receive $4850.00.  A teacher with a M.A. has a starting salary of $4200.00.  The school board also denied extra duty pay for those teachers who are doing duties.  In another direction, voters rejected another proposed bond issue for a new junior high school a second time in less than 2 months.  This was the first time in 26 years a bond issue had been rejected.  John R. Miller is the principal of Franklin School beginning in 1961.  He is only the third principal in charge since Franklin opened its doors.  He is in charge of 20 teachers and 520 students.

Open classroom concept not popular

On December 5, 1972 a special election was held to pass a $995,000.00 bond issue.  The money was to be used to renovate Franklin School, complete the remodeling of Washington and Lorimier Schools and construct a new addition to the vocational technical school.  The issue passed with a large majority.

The passing of the bond issue did not solve all the problems. When school started in September of 1973, Franklin School could not open its doors.  Due to a strike by the Carpenters Union Local 1770, progress on Franklin renovations came to a halt for some time.  School began for Franklin students in two separate places.  One hundred twenty-four 5th and 6th grade students and two groups of kindergarten children were forced to attend classes at Grace United Methodist Church while grades 1-4 were attending Hawthorne School.  In October, the group at Grace United Methodist Church returned to Franklin.  The rest came back on November 9th.

The renovations were extensive.  The open classroom teaching method was the basis for new room configurations.  Classrooms became one large room for each grade except the 3rd and 4th grades which were combined in one room.  Walls were removed so teachers could team teach and combine classes.  There were 5 private classrooms kept so teachers could use them if privacy was desired.  The folding doors were not installed at this time.  Franklin also had new plumbing installed along with new heating and air conditioning.  The stage and the old shower room were removed.  New aluminum windows and front door were installed and the office was completely redecorated.  Classrooms were given new carpet and indirect lighting after the ceilings were lowered.  Franklin looks brand new.

With the new renovations, came other problems and concerns.  Parents and students did not care for the open classrooms.  They felt students could not concentrate on their studies nor pay attention in class when several teachers are teaching different lessons.  After folding doors were installed, the protests died down.

Introduction to Biology Classes

I’m told there was some elementary, after-hours biology studies conducted on the front steps of Franklin School, but they ended before the final exam was given. In fact, I believe the course ended somewhere between the introduction of studies and the first exam, though not because of lack of student interest and participation.

25 Replies to “Franklin: The School with No Name”

  1. Franklin is such a beautiful building with such a rich history. However, like Washington before it, SO many issues with trying to retrofit it to be in compliance with ADA and issues related to meeting requirements for safety during an earthquake.

    I was told when the buildings were evaluated for how they would withstand an earthquake back during the Great Earthquake Scare of 1990, the evaluators were able to scrape out the mortar between the bricks at Washington. Since that is where I was homebased at the time, that factoid did not give me a sense of security. Bottom line was…it would pretty much be rubble if an earthquake hit. Always had a sense of “living on the edge” since I spent five subsequent years in that building. So many great memories of working with the Washington personnel including the legendary Barbara Blanchard!

    I have great faith that the current principal of Franklin, Dr. Rhonda Dunham, respects the integrity of the architecture of the current Franklin that she will do everything within her power to duplicate that in the “new” Franklin should the bond issue pass.

  2. It’s funny how you forget about earthquakes when you move to a geologically stable area like Florida. We have hurricanes, but don’t have to worry much about the ground shaking under us.

    I went to California for a training class when we bought a new voice mail system the size of a refrigerator. I was amazed at how many steps they take out there to make sure equipment is properly secured for a quake.

    If it’s any consolation, I stopped by the old Central High School last fall to shoot pix. The principal said the building had been recently wired for network connections and they had to bore through concrete walls 18 inches thick. He had no doubt his building would stand up to any earthquake.

  3. Ken, I have fond memories of Franklin School. Play Day at the end of the year was always so much fun. Recess on the big playground behind the school was grand. Class, as always, was a drag. Good teachers, though. Ms. Willer, Mrs. Travelstead, Mrs. Davis, Ms. Stein, Ms. Ferguson, Mrs. Sitze, “Pug” Russell, etc.

  4. I loved being at Franklin School, and to this very day one of my top heroes is Ben Franklin.
    I usually entered and exited the school from the back, but on Brownie Scout days, I exited from the front, and I always loved seeing the name “FRANKLIN” etched in concrete and the statue of Franklin, as we traipsed down the steps to the public street below.
    At year’s end, Play Day was a delightful event. We all had a good sense of school spirit at Franklin!

  5. I too have fond memories of Franklin school. Mrs. Stein–never smiled but I did learn my multiplication tables!!!!!!!!! Mrs Travelstead–what a sweetie. My first grade teacher Mrs. Miskell–I taught her granddaughter in Kdg in Jackson!
    Oh yes play day. You got to choose juicy burgers or hamburgers for your sack lunch on play day. I can still remember the smell and taste of the juicy burgers. I have yet to have any that good.
    This is the school that I had my friends pull me down the blacktop hill to wear out those dreaded corrective shoes that Dr Herbert made me wear 🙁

  6. Hi Ken, These articles are all so interesting! Was born and raised in Cape, attended Washington school 1st thru 8th then Central High graduated. Moved to Il. in 1963! Have many good memories of Cape! I am enjoying your web pages very much! Thanks Virginia Kerr West

  7. I first attended Franklin in the first grade in 1948. I started to school the same year my aunt who was living with us in Cape started to college. We both were a little apprehensive.

    I remember the “play day” also. Since I was a pretty fast runner, I won many of the races. I rode on Jack Hawk’s back when we would play “horse” which was what I think we called it. There were two boys, one a “horse” and one a rider and we tried to pull the other riders off. It would probably not be allowed now because it was pretty rough. Our version of soccer ball was also popular. Basically, it would be to kick the ball past a line and try to “smear” as many as you could.

    One incident that sticks in my mine was when I was in maybe the second grade that Ms Kreuger went down to the softball field and help carry a boy up to the office with blood running out his ears. I think he got hit in the head with a bat.

    I could ramble on, but not enough space and time.

    Some teachers I remember were: Ms. Millar, Willard, Reed, Young, Pierce, and Sackman. We had no kindergarden.

  8. One thing I remember about being a student at Franklin is that I felt safe and secure knowing that I had two older brothers, also attending Franklin, and if anyone messed with me, I would have my big brothers “beat ’em up”. Now, as I read the comments of one of my brothers, Ron, it sounds like he could have…I don’t know if he would have…beat anyone up on account of me. I remember playing “hopscotch” and “mother, may I”, as opposed to soccer and “horse”.

  9. I have many fond memories of Franklin School, but in the first grade under Ms. Willard, I eagerly awaited my November birthday because those preceding me were treated to a little celebration on those days. When mine arrived, it was a day the other children were unusually unruly and the teacher said, “Because all of you are behaving so badly, we will not celebrate John’s birthday”–as if that were punishing them instead of me! It was a hurt that has stayed with me through the years. But many other occasions were positive, like falling in love with my 2nd grade teacher!

  10. I attended Franklin for eight years, received an excellent education, suffered under Nellie Krueger, Helen Stein, but I guess it made me a better person. It would be a mistake to remove this beautiful building. Cape has lost a lot of wonderful buildings – don’t lose this one.

  11. I attended Francklin School. Play day was the indeed one of the best days of the year. My brohers and I were moved to Jefferson School for two weeks and because of overcrowding in my class, we were moved back to Franklin. My mother did not want us going to two differnet schools.

  12. Came across your site tonight by “accident” and two hours later (and at 1:40am) I am still reading. Wow! For us transplants, this is like eating chocolate easter bunnies and opening Christmas packages at the same time. So many memories of Cape and Franklin School. I attended grades 1-6 there, and have many of the same memories already mentioned. One interesting place was the music room, since I remember shower heads sticking out of the walls, left over from the days of Jr. high school classes, I’m sure. There is a site on Facebook called “Franklin Elementary School” where many people who have attended Franklin can re-connect with each other, and look for long lost classmates.
    Thanks, Kenny, for walking us down memory lane. Have enjoyed looking at my house and neighborhood from the air, also, from pictures you’ve posted.
    Many of my memories include you and your family –
    My best to you and Lila!

    1. Vikki,
      This site is indeed one that puts a former Franklin student in a “trance” reliving a lot of memories. When that aerial shot above was taken in 1964, I was in Mrs. Iahn’s first grade classroom with Sandi Young, Robert Weeks, Grant Volkerding, Nancy Kaempfer, and others. Play Day was GREAT! And I remember going into the art supply room while in 4th grade (which was really the old film projection room) and looking out the little holes in the wall down into the gym below. We also collected buckeyes from the buckeye tree on the South side of the school building. I was a patrol boy in 6th grade, and still remember the corner numbers…the hard part was lugging that old steel Stop sign out into the intersection at Corner Number 2 on Themis Street. Mrs. Travelstead, Mrs. Pierce, Coach Jack Russell and Mrs. Iahn/Underwood were my favorite teachers. Mrs. Sciortino…well, she was NOT my favorite teacher.

  13. Hello there,I love reading through your article post Franklin: The School with No Name | Cape Girardeau History and Photos , I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation……All the best for all your blogging efforts.

  14. part was lugging that old steel Stop sign out into the intersection at Corner Number 2 on Themis Street. Mrs. Travelstead, Mrs. Pierce, Coach Jack Russell and Mrs. Iahn/Underwood were my favorite teachers. Mrs. Sciortino…well, she was NOT my favorit

  15. On Suday mornings c 1960 following SEMO Indian home football games a few Franklin sixth graders would scour the stadium bleachers for the dregs of liquor left behind. These were combined into one bottle for usually nothing. However, on one Monday the bottle was produced on the Franklin playground accompanied by a dare to down it. As the daree I got nothing but sympathy later. The dareors did not fare as well.

  16. I too am a Franklin graduate…Mrs. Miskell, Mrs. Mueller, Mrs Reed, Miss Schutte, Mrs. Pierce and Mr. Miller all helped to make me a better person. I wish my kids would have had such a great group teachers and a great school to attend when they were growing up.
    As I look back now, I was taught well and protected by loving, caring and knowledgeable people. I don’t think I could have asked for more.

  17. Hello there! I too attended Franklin School First thru the Eighth Grades. I can remember some of my teachers: Ms. Willer, Stein, Reed, Terry, Russler, Pierce, and Cracraft. I believe our gymn teacher was Ms. Towe? I really enjoyed our last day of school festival with being able to be outside and all of the good food they provided that day. I always entered the school by the front door to the left of the flag pole!! It was a beautiful school to me and have lots of wonderful memories!

  18. To all you Franklinites…
    This is the summer our beautiful elementary school
    will be torn down. I spent only a half year there in
    grade 9, but loved every school day with wonderful
    teachers. Stops at Sunny Hill restaurant on my way
    home brought a cold rootbeer float…yummy remembrance. The new barn-like replacement, big and
    ugly, is a poor trade-off for the unique picturesque
    stone school we all loved for so many years.

  19. I attended Franklin School first through fifth grades. My teachers were Mrs. Miskell, Miss Mueller, Mrs. Dalton, Mrs. Schuette, and Mrs. Pierce. I have wonderful memories and photos from those days. The photos were taken by my mother on the playground. I also have a group photo from the end of the year train ride with Mrs. Miskell’s class. I have pictures of a field trip to David Lemon’s home where we Took turns riding his pony. Another photo was snapped for a calendar for our parents intended for Christmas presents. The small group is stacked on the northwest entry steps. Girls were never allowed to wear slacks. Was that rule relaxed on Play Day? I read about Play Day in the other entries and realized I had forgotten about that end of the year event. I lived on Stoddard Court most of the time I attended Franklin. I think we rode city buses for transportation. My favorite part of the ride home was racing to the back of the bus and sitting on the back row as we sped down Cape Rock Drive (I think that was the name). As we squished together, the squeals of delight were deafening! I recognized Judy Schlimme Bradley’s name in the comments. I remember her very well. We were reunited briefly at Girl Scout camp after eighth grade. My family moved around and I graduated from Marion High School in Marion, IL. The class of ’65 (my class) is having a 65th birthday party for ourselves in October.

    I am saddened to see Franklin is being torn down. A few years ago when I retired, my husband and I took a trip down memory lane in Cape. Franklin School was one of our stops. Sure glad I did that! I have enjoyed reading all the blog comments and will check out the Facebook site.

  20. I attended Franklin School grades 1-6. Always loved play day at the end of the year. I always ran the 3 Legged race with Betsy Wilson and we were unbeatable! Another memory I have is when President Kennedy was shot and killed. I was in the 5th grade and Ms. Pollack was our teacher. They took all of the older students grades 4-6 in the Library to watch the coverage. My 4th grade teacher Ms. Kelly was the inspiration to become a teacher myself and I taught 4th grade. Coach Russell stuck with my class (1971) and moved up with us all the way through High School. He had quiet the influence on me also. Franklin was a great school full of great teachers and kids! Those were the days!

  21. I had a good time at Franklin School. I had Mrs. Swingle, Jack”Pug” Russell then went to Schultz and had class in the music room. I just loved “ Pug” and he would come to our house to eat and did for many years. I would see him later in life at Brown’s Shoe Store and he would follow me out of the store talking. He was a great guy!

  22. i remember my days there back in 2010 the begin of fourth grade and play day and some times we had to stay on the black top good times i got sent to the office almost every day for horse playing but it was fun

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