Lincoln School: West Plains, MO
Information derived from Gary R. Kremer and Brett Rogers, Missouri Historical Property Inventory Form for Lincoln School, West Plains, MO (2001)
The West Plains African American community developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries around Washington Avenue. This was located on the north side of town and referred to as “Illinois Town.”
Lincoln School was the only African American educational facility in Howell County, and it offered instruction through the 8th grade. Until 1955, West Plains High School was a segregated, whites-only facility.
First built in 1890, Lincoln School was rebuilt around 1920, and it is this structure that continues to stand. At its height in the 1920s and 1930s, two teachers administered schooling. Margaret Givehand, Mrs. Darcy Penn, and Bettye Wilson were the prominent instructors around this time.
A typical school day at Lincoln began with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by the flagpole, followed by “singing the Negro national anthem.” (p. 3) Lincoln School also served as an important community meeting spot for African Americans in West Plains. Kids enjoyed the playground and baseball field, and families held a variety of celebratory and holiday functions at the site.
Today, the Lincoln School building is part of Lincoln Park. It remains a meeting place for a variety of West Plains groups.
Did you know?
- The school yard and area around it were developed into the modern day Lincoln Park?
- The current school house was built around 1920, replacing the earlier structure?