Greiffenstein Elementary School

1221 E Galena St

William Greiffenstein School opened January 13, 1950.

The original school building sat in the 27 hundred block of S. Washington. The building was destroyed by a tornado on May 3, 1999.

The site is now home to Leon Robinson Park.

2700 S. Washington

The 39th elementary school in Wichita was named after William “Dutch Bill” Greiffenstein.  He is known as the “Father of Wichita.”

There is a great deal of history on “Dutch Bill,” this is just a quick look at his life:

William Greiffenstein
Courtesy: Kansas Historical Society

Greiffenstein was born on July 28, 1829, in Ober-Ramstad, Germany.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1848. 

On an invitation from James Mead, Greiffenstein moved to Wichita in 1869.

Greiffenstein married his second wife, Catherine Burnett on November 21, 1869.

In 1870, “Dutch Bill” plotted the first 80 acres of land in Wichita.  

In 1871, Greiffenstein built a 2-story home on South Water.  

Greiffenstein Home

He also financed the first bridge over Douglas Avenue in 1872.

Greiffenstein represented his district in the State Legislature from 1877-1878 and served as the city’s fourth mayor from 1878 to 1884. 

William Greiffenstein
Courtesy: Old Cowtown Museum

Greiffenstein spoke English, Greek, German, and Latin and thanks to his first wife “Cheyenne Jennie” he could speak some Cheyenne.

Greiffenstein’s fortunes took a hit in the recessions of 1889 and 1893.  Having lost all his money, “Wild Dutch,” Catherine and their three kids moved to Burnett (named after his wife’s family) Indian Territory (now Oklahoma City).

Greiffenstein died on September 26, 1899. Catherine died on October 20, 1918.

Catherine and William are interred at Highland Cemetery in Wichita.

The Greiffenstein house, one of the biggest in the city, disappeared around 1910 to make room for the Forum.  Which is where Century II now stands.

Greiffenstein Home

Interesting side note: William Street is also named after Dutch Bill. He was honored by the idea, but worried that “Greiffenstein” was too hard to spell, so he suggested his first name would be better.

Greiffenstein school went through several renovations and remodels in 1951, 1956, 1967

Due to low enrollment, Greiffenstein Elementary was closed in 1986. 

In August 1992, Greiffenstein was reopened as an elementary school for students with behavioral issues.  As noted above, it was destroyed by a tornado in 1999. Greiffenstein took over part of the building it still shares with Wells Alternative Middle School sometime in the early 2000’s

Orsemus Hills Bentley’s book, “History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas: Past and Present,” says, “William Greiffenstein was a warm-hearted, generous man, and in Sedgwick County, his friends are legion. Time will do his memory justice, and posterity will perpetuate his many virtues.”

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