History of Madison
The Madison Elementary School District was established in 1890 encompassing an area of 15 square miles. The district’s first school, named Madison School, was located at 12th Street and Missouri, surrounded by citrus groves.
In 1893 the district’s first Governing Board was established consisting of three members.
Madison No. 1
Madison No. 1 was built in 1897 as the district’s first permanent facility at 16th Street and Missouri. It was originally a two-room brick building constructed by RM Gordon. It would be the district’s only school for the next 50+ years.
As enrollment in Madison grew, additions were made to the school. In 1927 two L-shaped buildings were constructed northeast of the main building to prove additional classroom space and administrative offices. By 1928, the district had 250 students enrolled.
By 1936, Madison’s student population had grown to 783 students. The population of the district’s residents was growing as well. An auditorium was added between the two L-shaped buildings. Upper grade supervisor, Mrs. Nina Cotton Wilson developed an “auditorium” program where students learned oratory skills and theatre experience.
More classroom buildings were added in 1939 and 1942.
World War II ended in 1945 and the district was growing fast. There were now 1,181 students enrolled at Madison No. 1. By the following year, it grew by almost 200 students.
More space was added in 1947 including a cafeteria, kitchen and home economics room.
The Good Manners program began in 1948. Instituted by Mrs. Wilson, the program taught students such things as how to carry on a conversation, dining at a guest table, and introducing oneself. The program was very popular and received national attention appearing in Parade Magazine and Womens Home Companion. The course culminated with a lunch at the Jokake Inn, what is now the Phoenician.
In 1949 Mr. Clifton L. Harkins became the district’s Superintendent. Madison continued to grow. The district was in need of a new school. Voters crowded the polls that August to approve a $329,000 bond issue. Proceeds of the bond would go toward the expansion of school facilities and the purchase of land at 20th Street and Campbell, where Madison Camelview now stands.
As classes returned to session that September, Madison found their student enrollment had increased by 28.7%. Enrollment had jumped from 1,337 students in the 1948-1949 year to 1,694 students for 1949-1950. The sudden boost was attributed to the construction of 280 new homes. The district responded by having double sessions in Grades Kindergarten through 3rd and revising bus schedules.
The bond passage allowed the district to build a four-classroom addition at the west end of Madison No. 1’s cafeteria. This provided capacity for 140 pupils.
Madison No. 2
Construction of Madison No. 2, located at 20th Street and Campbell began that fall. The school would serve 600 students residing south of Camelback and would allow for future additions. It was designed by architects Fred Guirey, Hugh Jones and Ralph Haver and built by Joseph Cuddihy. In addition to three classroom buildings, the new school would include a kindergarten and primary building, administrative building, and a cafetorium which included an ice cream room. The land cost under $21,000 and the building cost $280,000 to construct. There were concerns that the school’s construction would be delayed after a mishap with the opening of construction bids. Three Maricopa County supervisors went elk hunting the day bids were to be opened resulting in a delayed opening and questions on the legality of the bids. The issue was covered in the newspaper for several days.
In March 1950 students voted “Madison No. 2” as the official name of their newest school. The selected name beat out contenders: Camelback, Camelview, Biltmore and Madison East. The school would eventually be rebuilt decades later and renamed “Madison Camelview.”
Madison No. 2 opened in 1950. Its first principal was Mr. Earl Wimberley.
Immediately following registration in August 1950, Madison’s newest school was full. Enrollment had increased by 20% across the district and classes went to double sessions. Plans were already being made for a bond election that October to provide for a 16-classroom addition and 500 seat auditorium ($150,000) at Madison No. 2 as well as the purchase of a third school site (Simis).
Built in 1953, Madison Simis School is named after Richard C. Simis. Mr. Simis had served as a member of the Madison School District Board of trustees for seven and a half years before passing away suddenly in 1952 at the age of 46.
Twenty acres were originally purchased near Glendale and 7th Street in 1950 for $38,000 with a portion of the land to be re-sold by the district. The land was owned by Frank C. Brophy, president of the Bank of Douglas. The land was purchased with proceeds of a recent bond sale.
After selling off a portion of the site, 12 acres remained between then-Conway Lane and Myrtle Avenue and 7th and 10th Streets.
In July 1952, Madison was the recipient of a $318,000 federal grant to go towards the construction of Madison Simis School. The grant was given due to local federal activity which increased the school population. Bond proceeds covered the rest of the $687,000 project.
Groundbreaking occurred on December 29, 1952. Scott Simis, son of the late Richard C. Simis broke ground while others working on the project looked on.Designed by architects Fred Guirey, Ralph Haver, Harold Ekman, and Edward Varney and constructed by Farmer & Godfrey Construction Co, the school would accommodate 1,110 students.
It originally contained over 25 classrooms, a 350 student capacity cafetorium, and an administration building.
Researched and written by Kristen Landry