Saturday, March 30, 2013

Broadway School’s Last Day!

Broadway School, located on the northeast corner of Dunklin and Broadway streets, opened in 1904.

In the next half century, some 1,600 children in the Old Munichburg neighborhood of Jefferson City’s Southside attended the elementary school. They read Dick and Jane books in the first grade reading circle and had spelling bees in the second grade. In the third grade, they learned to write in longhand (now called cursive) by the Palmer penmanship method, using a scratchy ink pen dipped in an ink bottle. In the fourth grade, they memorized multiplication tables and then added long division and fractions in the fifth grade. By the sixth and final grade, they were sprouting bean seeds in glass jars on the window sills and drawing pictures of the sprouting process in their tablets.

After World War II, Jefferson City schools grew overcrowded. In addition to classrooms being cramped with thirty or more pupils, Broadway’s playground was much too small and bordered on two busy streets. When the school was built in 1904, Dunklin and Broadway streets carried horses and buggies, but by 1950 the same streets carried a couple thousand cars daily. Traffic posed a serious danger for pupils who ran into the streets to avoid being tagged during a game of “it” or to chase softballs.



In 1952 Jefferson City citizens voted by an astounding 86 percent to approve school bonds, which included the replacement of the Southside’s two historic schools, Broadway and Central, with two new schools. Broadway would be replaced by the new South School, four blocks father south on Broadway. South School was finished in February 1955 and ready to be occupied.

The last day of school at Broadway was Wednesday, February 9, 1955. It was an unusually balmy day for February, and during recess, pupils played in their shirtsleeves.

Boys made one last assault on the cinder pile next to the coal chute and played on the school’s back steps.

Mrs. Bonnie Haigh posed with some of her fifth grade pupils.

And for the final time, the janitor let the boys ring the handbell to signal the end of recess before they filed through the front doors.

During that night an unexpected cold front moved in, dropping temperatures below freezing! It had snowed! Moving day would have to be done in the snow! Boys and girls arrived at school dressed in coats and caps with earflaps and wearing sturdy shoes and galoshes, because they knew they had to hike in snow the four blocks south to their new school.

Grade by grade, starting with the youngest first graders, the pupils filed out of the school carrying their books and tablets, pencils and erasers, pens and ink bottles, as well as scissors, rulers, paste, and other school supplies in brown paper bags. (There were no plastic bags or nylon backpacks then!) Boys put their marbles in one pants pocket and their pocketknives (for whittling and playing mumblety-peg during recess) in the other. Each class of thirty or so pupils was led by its teacher, assisted by a few mothers.

Some classes sang as they marched through the snow. The schoolboy patrol halted Dunklin Street traffic for the procession of about two hundred persons to cross over. While they marched, the wind and snow started again and became, according to the newspaper account, “a near blizzard.”

The last to leave the old school were Miss Frances Elizabeth Smith, the current principal, and Miss Lily Andrae, who had been Broadway’s first principal in 1904 and had continued in that position until 1926. Miss Andrae had the honor of locking the front door and shutting down the school. To celebrate the new beginning, Miss Andrae presented to South School a set of the complete works of Charles Dickens.

Broadway School became a white elephant. What do you do with a fifty-year-old elementary school? That question was answered when the Carpenters Union 945 bought the building and lot a few months later, in August 1955, for $32,000.

The Carpenters converted it into an office building, but they retained some of the original furnishings. The original wooden stairways and banisters are still intact and polished, and the century-old wooden benches used for seating in the lunchroom remain in that same room, which is now a meeting room. The Old Munichburg Association occupies the former fourth grade room.

Thanks to my mother, Mrs. Edna Schroeder, for taking the photos of the last day and moving day of Broadway School. Her youngest son, my brother Tom, was in the fifth grade at the time. My mother, two of her sisters, and her three sons were among the approximately 1,600 who attended Broadway School.

Copyright 2012 by Walter A. Schroeder.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Cole County Bank

The Southside began to take off with its own business district in the decades around 1900. By then, the original German immigrants were dying off and the younger generation spoke English. Folks no longer used the German “Muenchberg” but began called the area “Jefferson City’s Southside.”

Sitting under shade trees in Friemel’s beer garden one summer evening in 1912, an informal, tight-knit group of businessmen who called themselves the “Southside Boosters” saw the need for a community bank in the growing Southside. They chose the name “Cole County Bank” because much of the Southside’s business came from farmers in the county. The boosters had no trouble soliciting stock, and on October 17, 1912, the Cole County Bank was incorporated with a capitalization of $25,000. The bank had 85 shareholders, all of whom were listed in the local newspaper with the number of shares each owned at $100 per share.

Among the shareholders were Jacob F. Moerschel (of the Capitol Brewery), George Bartholomaeus (co-owner of the Dunklin Theater), John W. Fischer (prominent farmer), Joseph Pope (street contractor), Wm. F. Winkelmann (farmer and banker), T. G. Nilges (grocer and city councilman), Ernst Simonsen (manufacturer and namesake of the high school), and members of the Dulle, Bassmann, Busch, Schmidt, Tanner, Seidel, Renn, Sommerer, Schell, and Kielman families. The list even included Hugh Stephens (printer and banker). Officers at incorporation were T. G. Nilges, president; J. W. Fischer and A. W. Happy, vice-presidents; and Wm. F. Winkelmann, cashier and secretary.

The bank officers narrowed down the location for their new bank to two sites. One was “Schmidt’s Corner,” the southwest corner of Dunklin and Madison, where the Henry Schmidt Grocery was (the Wel-Com-Inn corner). The other site was “Kielman’s Corner,” the southeast corner of Dunklin and Jefferson, where the Farmer’s Home hotel was, where the ECCO Lounge is located. They chose Kielman’s Farmer’s Home location and began operations in 1912 in the corner room of the hotel.

A separate Southside Building and Loan Association, organized to provide loans for the large number of new houses then going up in the Southside, operated in conjunction with the bank.

At the same time that the Cole County Bank got going, Henry Schwartze quit his blacksmith and wagon repair business in the building catty-cornered from Farmers Home, the northwest corner of the same intersection. In 1914 that vacant two-story brick building was completely renovated into a retail business downstairs and offices upstairs. The old doorways, wide enough for wagons, were bricked in, new windows installed, and the interior space divided into rooms. The original, soft-brick exterior walls of the 1880s were replaced, or covered over, with new wire-brushed, weather-resistant brick to give the building the completely different appearance that you can see today. Following this thorough building renovation in 1914, the Southside Drug Store and Jefferson City’s first branch post office opened on the first floor and doctors’ offices on the second floor.

The corner room in the Farmers Home building had become entirely too small for the growing Cole County Bank, so shortly after 1921, the bank left that corner room and moved diagonally across the corner into the larger space that the Southside Drug Store had occupied. The drug store simply moved next door on the north, where it stayed into the 1960s. Doctors and dentists remained on the second floor.

The bank advertised heavily in both German and English newspapers. A neighborhood bank was a great help to Southsiders. They could do their banking while shopping in the Southside. Frugal families could create savings accounts rather than hiding their precious earnings in mattresses. They knew the officers and tellers and trusted them with their money.

Things went well during the 1920s. The bank quickly doubled its capitalization, then again recapitalized. In 1922 it passed the million-dollar mark in assets. As population grew in the Southside and nearby farmers prospered, so did the bank.

Then the unexpected happened! The national stock market crashed in 1929, which brought on the Great Depression. Small banks were vulnerable to the economic hard times and the huge decline in circulating money. Nevertheless, people continued to trust their neighborhood bank with their money, just as they would a friend.

But the Cole County Bank was overextended. It had too many unsecured loans for its assets! For instance, the bank had to foreclose on the mortgaged Farmers Home hotel for only $500, when the building was worth several thousands of dollars. The bank just couldn’t sell the property. There were no buyers with money during the Great Depression.

Try as they could to keep afloat, the Cole County Bank finally was forced to close its doors in May 1938, paying only 62½ cents on the dollar to shareholders. On November 9, 1938, the Director of Finance of the state of Missouri, after a six-month search to find owners of unclaimed deposits, liquidated all remaining assets. The bank had failed. The Southside Building and Loan Association, however, survived and stayed in business in that corner building.

Many Southsiders lost all their savings. Folks shared their sorrows with some bitterness. Single women, widows, aged couples, and younger people who were saving for retirement in those days before Social Security lost everything! Jack Howser, who as a young boy lived across the street in the Farmers Home hotel, had put his meager savings in the bank, and 74 years later his painful loss of exactly $3.25 was still etched in his memory.

A bank organized by and for Southsiders and county farmers no longer exists. However, the Southside does have a branch facility of Jefferson City’s Hawthorn Bank, which is said to be their most used facility. In late 2013 a completely new Hawthorn Bank building was completed on the corner of Dunklin and Washington, built to architecturally harmonize with the historic brick buildings of the neighborhood. If you live or work or visit in the Southside, you still have a friendly Southside bank to serve you!