Grand Prairie


In its suburban years, before becoming a part of the City of St. Louis in 1876, the Grande Prairie area had few public schools. Among these were the Cote Brilliante School on the south side of Kennerly Avenue east of Cora, and the Elleardsville School on the southeast corner of Belle Glade Avenue and Parsons (North Market) Street. The former was a three story building of seven rooms, which was surmounted by a series of fanciful towers with spires.

Elleardsville School was housed in a three story mansard style building with a capacity of 650 students. Both of these were built about 1870. Also in the area at that time was the Spring Avenue School, at Spring and Parsons, and Colored School #8 in Elleardsville. These were one story wooden buildings of two rooms each. The school for blacks was opened in 1873 in Claggett (St. Louis) Avenue, with an enrollment of 53 pupils. It was operated by a Board of Education for Colored Schools, which had been established in 1865, to foster education of black children. In 1877, black teachers replaced whites in the school and by 1881 the building was enlarged to four rooms. It was renamed as the Edward J. Simmons School in 1891 and in 1899 the old school was replaced by a brick building. It occupies the same site today in a building erected in 1930 at 4318 St. Louis Avenue. An addition was built west of it in 1965. The present Cote Brilliante School at 2616 Cora Avenue was designed by William B. Ittner in 1904.

Other early schools in the area were the Bell Avenue two room building on Bell one-half mile west of Grand and the Thomas F. Riddick School at 4136 Evans, which was originally built in 1890 with additions in 1894, 1896, and 1899. Euclid (formerly Washington) School at 1131 North Euclid Avenue was erected in 1893 with an addition in 1902. John Marshall School at 4342 Aldine Avenue was opened in 1900 as a grade school for white children and became a black intermediate school in 1918. In 1927 it reverted to an elementary school for black children and an adjacent branch was built in 1952.

Two schools designed by R.M. Milligan were completed in the area in 1917, these were the Edward Bates School at 1912 North Prairie Avenue and the Samuel Cupples building 4906 Cote Brilliante.

The present Turner Middle School at 4235 West Kennerly Avenue was originally opened as the Charles H. Turner Open Air School for Handicapped Children in 1925. It was named for a noted black scientist and was phased out for its original use after the passage of desegregation laws in the 1950's.

Another building, now used by Turner Middle School at 2615 Pendleton Avenue, was formerly the Harriet Beecher Stowe Teachers College and was completed in 1940. Stowe College had its beginning as a Normal Department in the Sumner High School in 1890. In 1925 it was designated as a college and in 1929 was named for the novelist. It moved from Sumner into a wing of the Simmons School, where it remained until completion of its own building on Pendleton. In 1954, the college was merged with Harris Teachers College as an integrated institution.

Richard H. Cole School at 3935 Enright was opened in 1931 from plans by architect George W. Sanger. A branch was completed nearby on West Belle in 1950. A new Washington School was erected at 1130 North Euclid Avenue in 1955 and three years later the Eugene Field branch was completed at 721 Pendleton. Most recent public schools to be built in the area are the George E. Stevens building at 1033 Whittier and the Frank L. Williams School at 3955 St. Ferdinand, both opened in 1964. There are two branches of the Williams School in the area.

Charles Sumner High School, which was the first such institution for black students west of the Mississippi, was established in 1875 at Eleventh and Spruce Streets. It relocated at Fifteenth and Walnut in 1895 and moved to its present location at 4248 Cottage Avenue in 1910. It was the only secondary school for blacks in St. Louis until 1927 when Vashon High was opened. Educational demands required const':uction of frame classroom buildings at Sumner in 1911 and in 1914, nine portable classrooms were set up at Cottage and Pendleton. These were known as the Cottage Avenue School, a training school for student teachers at Sumner Normal. Additions were built at Sumner High in 1922, 1955, and 1968. In 1933 a junior college was operated under a WPA program by Lincoln University at Stowe College.

Image - The old Cote Brillante School on Kennerly Avenue near Cora Avenue in 1875
Image - Edward J. Simmons School at 4318 St. Louis Avenue
Image - Poro College Building at Pendleton and St. Ferdinand