About Garfield Elementary

  Garfield Elementary School  
Garfield School opened its doors in September, 1903. Named after assassinated President James Garfield, Garfield School is the only Danville School to remain standing and to be continually operated as a school for 100 years. Generations of boys and girls have studied what is needed to be successful in the world around them; they have learned lessons concerning reading, mathematics, and writing, how to be good American citizens, and how to get along well with others. Year after year, student after student, family after family, teacher after teacher, Garfield School has proudly stood at the corner of Gilbert and English streets fulfilling the responsibility that it was given in 1903, a responsibility that it continues to discharge today.

The original 10 rooms of Garfield School were built in 1903 with the main entrance facing English Street. The original sign, “Garfield School”, was engraved above the long gone English Street doors and it remains there today. There was no gym as there were no rooms originally on the far west end of the building. The original building was designed by Paul Moratz, architect, and the total cost of construction was $37,453. Two additional classrooms were added on the west side in 1918 while the gymnasium was constructed in 1931. At that time, the original entrance facing English Street, that housed a large double stairwell going from the basement to the second floor, was replaced with two additional classrooms.

Of the many Garfield graduates, most led honorable lives, contributed to society, worked hard in their jobs, and raised their families well. A few became known across the entire country. Among these graduates of singular achievement are Edward Telling, retired chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Sears; Dick Van Dyke, Emmy-winning actor; Bobby Short, nationally renowned musical performer who has returned to Garfield to entertain the student; and Jerry Van Dyke, award-winning entertainer. Of these current Garfield School students here today, who knows what accomplishments their future holds.

On January 11, 1999, Garfield School caught on fire. Due to the courage and quick-thinking of Principal Bill Cooper and his staff, every single Garfield student evacuated the building quickly and safely on a freezing cold winter day. Looking at Garfield School after the blaze, with its significant fire and smoke damage, it appeared its service would end. With the support of the Garfield community, Superintendent David Fields, the District #118 School Board, and the state, the money was found to repair and renovate Garfield School. Looking back it is clear today that the fire really saved Garfield School. The repairs, renovations, rewiring, and remodeling of this old building brought it up to date to all modern standards as the 20th century ended.

At the start of the 20th century, Garfield School began. As the onset of the 21st century, it was reborn. Modernized, yet retaining the solid, quality construction of a by-gone era, Garfield School stands prepared to serve and educate generations for years to come.

Written by Mark Denman