When R.G. Keyes unlocked the tall, oak doors on a cold day in January 1929, the 90-year history of David Maxwell School began.
Named after a well-respected inspector of schools, Maxwell offered 13 classrooms, a combination gymnasium auditorium, plus staff offices. And all for $180,000. The building was designed by architects Pennington and Boyd.
The new school was needed to help deal with the growing population of what was then Ford City.
Along with Mr. Keyes the staff included Miss Munro, Miss P. Duckworth, Miss F. Jackson, Miss O. Alton, Miss D. Carter and Miss N. MacDougall.
Long-time teacher Miss A. MacKenzie joined the staff the following year.
Mr. Keyes remained a fixture of the school for the next three decades, until his retirement in 1959.
By 1950 the baby boomer generation was starting to increase enrollment. To cope, what was then called the Nursery was built on the opposite side of Ellrose Avenue. It opened in April of 1951. But that proved to be insufficient and a second Nursery was built and opened later the same year. These two buildings came to be called “the bungalows”.
By the mid 1950s, still more classrooms were needed. In 1955 a four classroom addition was built on the south end of the school.
But no matter how the physical school changed and developed, it was the pupils and staff that made it an important part of the east side community.
Some of those pupils went on to high achievements in academics, sports and entertainment. Among them singer Dorothy Collins, a popular entertainer in the 1950s and 1960s and Glen Skov, an NHL player who helped the Detroit Red Wings win several Stanley Cups in the 1950s. Many others served their country during conflicts like World War 2.
The children of 2019 may seem very different from that first class in 1929 but in some ways they are all the same: every child is navigating the difficult voyage of growing up. David Maxwell School is part of every single one of those journeys.
(If you have information to add to the history of David Maxwell School, please submit it through the website. The history will be updated as more information becomes available.)