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The Wyandotte High School was complete in 1937. It replaced a high school dating from 1899 which had been destroyed by fire. The school cost $2.5 million to build and was constructed using labor from the Works Progress Administration program implemented during the Great Depression. The high school originally had a capacity of 3,000 students in 85 classrooms. The building, which contains about 4 million bricks over 6 million cubic feet, features many Art Deco and Art Moderne elements inside and out.

  • Wyandotte High School
  • Wyandotte High School
  • The school not long after its construction in 1937
  • Aerial view of the school not long after its construction in 1937
  • The school's entrance, with brick depicting a basketball game
  • The school's auditorium
  • The school's library, with Art Deco light fixtures
  • The 1899 school that was destroyed by fire in 1934 and replaced by Wyandotte High School

The first public high school for Kansas City was formally established in 1886. The high school took up two rooms in the Riverview School, located at 7th Street and Pacific Avenue. The first graduating class of 1887 consisted of 11 girls. In 1888, the public high school took over the building of the Palmer Academy, which had been a tuition-based higher learning institution. This new location, on Minnesota Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets, was more convenient for most students and increased attendance dramatically over the next few years. [1,2]

To address overcrowding issues, a new high school was constructed in 1899. The Kansas City, Kansas High School was located at Minnesota Avenue and 9th Street. It was designed by local architect William Warren Rose and would become a landmark in the city for the next several decades. In 1925, several other school districts were integrated with Kansas City, Kansas, and the name of the high school was changed to Central High School. In 1928, it was changed again to Wyandotte High School, after the local Wyandot tribe. [1]

Tragedy struck the Wyandotte High School on March 3, 1934, when a fire broke out. The building was almost a total loss. Plans had already been in place to construct a new high school, but the Great Depression had stalled the initiative. Now, there was no choice but to try to raise funds to go forward with the construction. The site chosen for the new school, a former golf course at Minnesota Avenue, had already been purchased in 1927, and a school stadium and athletic field had been built there in 1929. $2.5 million was raised between the fire insurance settlement, a bond initiative, money from the reserve fund of the Kansas State Board of Education, and funding from the Public Works Administration. Workers were brought in as part of the Works Progress Administration program that employed men during the Great Depression. Students attended various junior highs around the region while the new high school was being constructed. [1]

The current Wyandotte High School opened on March 4, 1937. The three-story building was constructed in an H-shape with bent wings. It’s estimated that it contains about 4 million bricks. It occupies almost 6 million cubic feet on 24 acres. The original building had 85 classrooms for 3,000 students. [1] The exterior was designed with Art Deco and Art Moderne details by the architectural firm Hamilton, Fellows, and Nedved along with local associate architect Joseph W. Radotinsky. The interior has elaborate Art Deco and Moderne decorative features in the main common areas, particularly the main hall, library, auditorium, but also the gymnasium and cafeteria. [3]

According to J.F. Wellemeyer, who was principal at the time of the school’s construction, the West Tower of the school’s represented knowledge and the East Tower represented character. Wellemeyer said: “The west was a land of pioneers, eager and ambitious to achieve and acquire, and they were true pioneers in arts and sciences as well as many newer branches of learning. The east suggests maturity, stability of character, refinement, culture and inspiration.” [2]

1.      Sallee, Marjorie. “A History of Wyandotte High School.” Kansas City Kansas Public Schools Website. Date unknown. Accessed October 23, 2019.

2.      “School History.” Wyandotte High School Official Website. Accessed October 23, 2019.

3.      Hagedorn, Martha Gray. “National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Wyandotte High School.” Kansas State Historical Society Website. Form prepared January 7, 1986. Accessed October 23, 2019.

Image Sources(Click to expand)


Kansas City Public Library:


Avant Acoustics:

Wyandotte High School Library: