Harry Street Elementary opened around 1889. The name was chosen as the new school sat on Harry Street. So where did the name Harry Street come from?
It’s named after Harry Hill, who was born in Kentucky in 1853. He came to Kansas in 1879. According to “Cowtown Wichita and the Wild, Wicked West,” he, “kept his hair short and dressed as a businessman.”
Hill was one of the pioneers when Wichita was being platted. The Wichita settler traded in horses and mules and ran a stagecoach operation. His farm and livery stables were at one time the social center of Wichita. His home was between what is now Lincoln and Harry. Hillside, according to legend was so named, as it ran along Harry Hill’s property, and not because it was on the side of a hill.
With sales declining, “Oklahoma” Bill started running a Wild West Show. The shows were bankrolled by Joe Rich. A whole train of specially built rail cars took the “Oklahoma Wild West Show” to the people. The Wild West show began their tour on May 5, 1889. The show ran into many troubles mostly weather related. It returned to Wichita and played its final show on August 3rd.
Harry Hill died in 1898, at the age of 69. The Wichita Beacon stated people would remember, “Harry Hill as a character of admiration… He was always affable and kind to all. His wit and quick mind are well remembered.” Hill and his wife had one daughter and two sons.
The first Harry Street school housed only fifth and sixth graders. The younger students went to Lincoln School.
Around 1906, a new brick building was constructed and was used until 1922 when a newer building was built. This is the building still used by the neighborhood kids.
The 1906 building was used for overflow students. It was used as for surplus storage until it was demolished in 1954.
The 2000 school bond issue gave Harry Street a new multipurpose room, kitchen, library and four classrooms.
In 2001, the school was expanded, and a new main entrance was created.
Check out Wichita’s other schools.