I was at the Community Center yesterday morning for the Chamber/Main Street-sponsored Kids Carnival (photos posted in various places on Facebook), so took a few shots, too, of the venerable building upon which the high school complex is centered --- commenced in 1922 and finished in 1923.
The new high school cost $250,000 then, and has proved to be a sound investment. Today's high school students use the same doors my parents did back in the early 1930s. I think my dad was a 1932 graduate and my mother, 1933 --- but would have to check that for sure.
The high school sits on ground where the legendary Smith H. and Annie Mallory and their daughter, Jessie, first lived when they arrived in Chariton during 1867. The Mallorys owned roughly the south half of the block between what now is North Grand and North Main with a relatively modest home to the east and barn, outbuildings, gardens and orchards to the west.
In 1877, as the Mallorys were planning their grand new home in North Chariton --- Ilion --- they sold the southwest corner of the block to the school district and a two-story brick school at first called "North" but christened "Bancroft" in 1892 was built there. Bancroft was a noted historian of the day --- not local.
In 1900, the old Bancroft was torn down and the new Bancroft built with high school on the top floor; elementary grades below. It was renamed Alma Clay in honor of a revered teacher during 1924.
Three residential properties were displaced and the houses moved elsewhere before construction of the new high school began on the east side of the block in 1922. Only Sam Beardsley's funeral home at the north end of the block survived. Alma Clay continued to serve as an elementary school and as junior high.
As the years passed, all other homes on the block were purchased and cleared, allowing space for the major 1951 addition to the north end of the 1923 building.
Alma Clay eventually developed structural issues and was taken down and during 1984 was replaced by the Community Center, attached to the school and containing Johnson Auditorium, the gymnasium-scaled multi-purpose room, meeting rooms and kitchen. The Community Center opened during January of 1985.