Plans for demolition of King Elementary School were recently announced, much to the dismay of many residents. The building, rich in history, is considered a neighborhood gem and grass-roots campaign has been started to save it. The following historical information was provided by Progress Through Preservation which is assisting in the campaign to save the school.
Authorization to construct King school was given in 1922 to alleviate the congestion in the school system stemming from Akron’s rapid population growth after World War I. It was designed by Mieczyslaw Konarski. Konarski would eventually be hired to oversee the design of seventeen Akron schools and twenty-two school expansions. He also designed the East Ohio Gas Building, the Salvation Army Citadel, and the Akron-Fulton Airport (now listed on the National Register of Historic Places). He would also become assistant school superintendent in 1937.
School superintendent in 1922, Carroll Reed, called King School a “model of efficiency and economy.” The compact floor design and layout was influenced by the Neoclassical Revival Style and is brick with terra cotta ornamentation. The cornice on top of the building is engraved with an excerpt from the Gettysburg Address, “And that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
The school was named after three members of the King family. Born in 1789, Judge Leicester King was a prominent early resident of Akron who was eventually deeded 1/3 interest in North Akron by General Simon Perkins and Dr. Eliakim Crosby. He eventually purchased Crosby’s share. He helped to build the Cascade Mill in 1840 and he was one of the principal promoters of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal. He is said to have modified its route to run through Akron instead of nearby Middlebury, thus pushing Akron into early prominence.
His son, David L. King, another prominent member of Akron society was the secretary and treasurer of the Akron Sewer Pipe Company. one of the leading producers of vitrified sewer pipe.
The third member of the King family for which the school is named is Henry W. King. He was the secretary of the citizens committee which designed the bill laying out the Akron Plan for free public schools. The bill was passed by the state legislature in 1847. The Akron plan became the basis for tax-supported schools throughout the nation and the public school system we know today.
King school was the location of the first Alcoholic Anonymous meeting outside Dr. Bob Smith’s home on January 10, 1940. In 1955, the Akron Public Schools began broadcasting their public radio station, WAPS, from King School.
For more information about the campaign to save King School contact Progress Through Preservation.