The Washington Pavilion: Thirty Years Later - Preservation of Public Land

Preserving the Former Washington High School for the Use of Public Education, Science, Arts, and Forestry.
The former building once served the Sioux Falls area as the main High School, standing alone for many years, between 1908 to 1966 until Lincoln High became the second school. But in the spring of '92, it would serve as the city's High School for the final time as it would soon close its doors for good in June of that year.
As the building serves as one of the City's most predominant and most historical buildings of today, nearly thirty years later after the last graduation in 1992, we today often reflect upon the old school as it once was. The school is known as the building with the "Hole" in the middle, mainly since it was actually four buildings attached to each other, but this old building to many, was fortunate to serve so many, as it connected family traditions of so many families, it would be the school where are great grandparents, grand parents, and parents would all graduate prior to 1966, and where so many teenagers would enjoy their proms, homecomings, and more.
Today, as we walk its halls, we often try to find our former classrooms, if course, due to the many remodel phases over the years, one would have to stop and think, and dig deep in memory to recall exactly where their classrooms once stood, but here are a few memories.
The 4th Floor Artroom, today has transitioned into part of the east wing balcony, overlooking the first floor. But here one can still stare out the windows from the same spot we once sat at one of our former drawing tables, overlooking the old Carnegie Library just a few blocks away, learning how to create fascinating pieces of artwork, and of which part of the former stone exterior walls has been exposed, while the short, small entryway that connects the east wing and the north wing still in its present location, where many can still recall passing through, as we zig-zag our way between the wings. One would have to duck their head if you were taller than 6 feet, and as they proceed on through, just down the hall would be the entrance of the balcony of the old Library, of which once served as an assembly hall prior to 1940.
As you review and understand the 1st Floor map, one can find and locate the old gymnasium which later served as a classroom after 1930, while the main Gym and Auditorium today can be seen at the center. How many recall walking into this gym, during P.E Classes, climbing the tightrope, the many activities, while the cafeteria in the south wing can be seen here, of which has been closed off to the public since, but played a huge role in feeding nearly 300 students a year during each school day.
According to the Washington High School Historical Committee webpage, construction of Sioux Falls Washington High School began in 1904, after Central School in Sioux Falls was outgrown. Upon completion in 1908, it was renamed from "Sioux Falls High School" to Washington High School. 328 high school students enrolled into the new building on February 14, 1908. The students soon outgrew the building. With a high school population of 536 in 1911, the enrollment exceeded the maximum capacity of 500. With the addition of a new South Wing to Washington High in 1922, the enrollment grew from 959 in 1921 to 1,660 in 1930. The district approved the remodeling of the north wing in 1932, and in 1935, the center unit of Washington High School was completed, with Central School razed in 1935 to make room for the west wing's construction. Following this remodeling, the exterior of Washington High School stood from 1935 until the current Washington High School was completed in 1992. After that, the original school was remodeled to become the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science.
All Sioux Falls public high school students attended Washington High from 1908 through the 1963–1964 school year. Washington's enrollment grew to 3,500 during the 1965 year. During this time it was one of the largest high schools in the country. The building's recommended capacity was 2,100. To solve overcrowding, the district began construction on Lincoln High School, as a second high school located on Cliff Avenue next to Interstate 229. Following some delays, Lincoln High School opened on October 19, 1965, with 1,300 students. In 1992, the last year at old WHS, 1,439 Washington High School students attended classes in the downtown Washington High School.
From 1908 to 1993, this old building served as one of the oldest schools in Sioux Falls, and as we remember thirty years later, of its historical importance, just how many families it once served.
As you today, attend a movie in the Cinedome, purchasing a soda, popcorn in the current cafe court, keep in mind, that area once served as a Algebra classroom overlooking the corner of 12th Street and Maine Avenue, or remember the former second floor hallway of the northwing today happens to be the 1st floor of the current Art Gallery, while the second floor art gallery yesterday was the Library. The old school, with the wooden floors, warm in the summer, cold in the winter, but unique in its entire existence, serves as a reminder to so many, of their once proud childhood.
Built on Section 16 Public Land, of which is defined as land to be used only for Education, Science, or Public Green Space; was an early concept of one of America's founding fathers - Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson was acutely aware of the great potential benefits offered by lands in the West. A growing population in the original states, now largely free from British interference, was beginning to push into these areas. Jefferson had earlier offered a systematic means to prepare new areas for statehood in his Ordinance of 1784. In the following year, he directed his attention to designing a system for surveying the lands that might avoid the pitfalls of earlier methods of determining boundaries. Many landowners in the original states had become embroiled in ownership disputes because their property lines were defined in terms of rocks, streams and trees — any of which could disappear or be moved. Another nagging feature of the old system was that frugal purchasers would buy only the best pieces of land by carving out irregular plots that avoided undesirable wasteland.
Early land ownership maps appeared to be jigsaw puzzles. Township MapJefferson’s proposal was much more orderly. He advocated the creation of a rectangular or rectilinear system of land survey. The basic unit of ownership was to be the township — a six-mile square or 36 square miles. (Jefferson had actually favored townships of 10-mile squares, but Congress believed those plots would be too large and difficult to sell.) Each township was to be divided into 36 sections, each a one-mile square or 640 acres. A north-south line of townships was to be known as a range. Borrowing from a New England practice, the Ordinance also provided that Section 16 in each township was to be reserved for the benefit of Public Education. All other sections were to be made available to the public at auction. The Ordinance provided that sections be offered to the public at the minimum bidding price of one dollar per acre or a total of $640. Jefferson and other members of Congress hoped that competitive bidding would bring in receipts far in excess of the minimum amount. The meager treasury of the Confederation sorely needed every dollar it could find.
The Ordinance of 1785 was landmark legislation. By preparing this means for selling Western lands, the government introduced a system that would remain the foundation of U.S. public land policy until the enactment of the Homestead Act of 1862. Modifications, however, would occur over the years as it became apparent that $640 was more than many could afford and, similarly, that 640 acres was too large for most family farms. Future legislation would keep the basic system intact, but reduce the minimum acreage requirement. A revision of the statehood provisions for the Northwest came in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

Video Tour of the last year of Washington High School in Sioux Falls (1992)