School was named for John S. Phelps, prominent governor and congressman
from Springfield. The original Phelps School was located on the
northeast corner of Cherry and Kimbrough Streets. The 10-room building
was abandoned by the public schools in 1931, which was the year
the new Phelps Elementary School was built. The building currently
stands at 934 South Kimbrough Avenue, near Grand Street. The last
home of John Polk Campbell, founder of Springfield, was on one of
the tracts of land condemned so the school could be built. Mrs.
John P. McCammon, whose family lived in the historic house, was
the granddaughter of Campbell. Phelps School was one of the few
Springfield schools which changed locations after its founding.
In 1984 Phelps Elementary was converted from a conventional elementary
school to a center for the Springfield school district's gifted
program. There was a lot of public outcry against changing the school,
but the school board determined that it was the only school building
that would fit the needs of the program. The gifted program is called
WINGS, which stands for Working with the Individual Needs of Gifted
Students. Gifted children from all over Springfield now attend classes
one day per week at the Phelps Center for the Gifted.