High School was built at the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue
and Center (later Central) Street in 1893. Springfields first
high school was established in 1867. For the first few years students
attended classes in borrowed facilities. In 1870-71 the Central
School was built at what is presently the corner of Jefferson and
Olive. It housed grades 1 through 12, with high school students
occupying the top floor. The school quickly outgrew the building
and in 1893 a new high school called Springfield High School, or
Senior High School, was built. The old Central School was sold to
the Frisco Railroad, who later razed the building and built the Frisco Building, now called
the Landmark Building.
In January 1894 the new Senior High School was opened. It had 44 rooms, including
an auditorium on the second floor. During the first year, the school had two
graduating seniors and 76 students. The site of Springfields first high
school was originally occupied by the physician E.T. Robberson. It was purchased
for $15,000 and the building cost another $65,000 to build. Jonathan Fairbanks
was superintendent of schools from 1875 until 1913 so he oversaw the beginning
of the new high school.
The first school yearbook was created in 1902 and it was called The Exodus.
In 1904 the name was changed to The Windup and since 1907 the schools
annual has been called The Resume. The student newspaper, called The High
Times, began publication in 1913 and is still published in non-regular
The student body of the high school grew steadily in the years when Springfield
had only one high school and several additions were made. In 1907 the center
section of the present building was completed, which added 11 rooms. The postcard
shows the high school sometime between 1907, when this addition was made, and
1909, when the card was postmarked. In 1913 the east section was built, increasing
the buildings capacity by 21 more rooms. The boiler room was added in
1914 and in 1916 the manual training building was completed. In 1931 a larger
gymnasium was constructed behind the west section of the main building. It was
commonly referred to as The Pit because the floor was about seven
feet lower than the bleachers. In 1936 Harrison Stadium and the south fieldhouse
were built at the corner of Summit Avenue and Central Street. In 1937 the fine
arts building on Benton Avenue behind the east section of the main building
was added. It contained 4 rooms, the studio theater, the main study hall and
the music department. In 1939 the industrial arts building just north of the
fine arts building added 11 more rooms to the high school. In 1940 a new upstairs
auditorium was added, as well as a cafeteria on the first floor. This marked
the end of most construction on the building, with a fireproof stairwell added
in 1960 and a new physical education facility behind the main building added
Enrollment at Springfield High School was at its highest in 1955-56 when 3,491
students were enrolled. The following year, 1956-57, Parkview High School was
built and Springfield High Schools name was changed to Central High School.
From 1884 until 1954 black students in Springfield attended Lincoln High School.
In 1954 the public schools in Springfield were integrated and Lincoln High School
was closed. According to newspaper articles, the transition was smooth. Interestingly,
Linda Brown, whose father was the litigant in the famous civil rights case Brown
vs. The Topeka Board of Education, graduated from Central High School
in 1961. In 2000 a plaque honoring Linda Brown was placed outside of Central
In 1922 the first all-female drum corps in the United States was formed by R.
Ritchie Robertson. Originally called the Scotch Lassies, the Kilties have been
performing with bugles, drums and bagpipes ever since.
Central High was nearly closed down twice, in 1982 and 1995, but the school
board decided to renovate the building rather than tear it down and build a
new one. In 2000 a program called the IB or International Baccalaureate program
celebrated its first graduating class. The IB program is a 2-year liberal arts
curriculum for highly motivated and academically advanced students in grades
11 and 12. Candidates for the program must complete advanced courses in English,
a foreign language, history, science and mathematics. This prepares them for
entrance into excellent colleges and universities throughout the world.