The Reference Department at Morrisson-Reeves Library (MRL) recently had a request for information about Baxter Elementary School. The caller was particularly interested in pictures of the old Baxter building and of construction of the current building. The caller has childhood memories of attending both buildings and has strong family ties to the school because three generations of his family attended Baxter.
I was able to find several pictures and articles about this period in Baxter Elementary School’s history. Richmond’s newspapers had extensive coverage on plans to close and raze the first building and construct a new, modern building. The MRL Richmond Collection has a few booklets about the school district during this period that include information about both Baxter buildings. The most distinctive set of information I was able to find was in the archives. The MRL archivist Sue King led me to what was available in the archives. I was able to look through scrapbooks and folders of documents and snapshots. Some of the information overlapped with what I had seen in the newspaper coverage and the booklets in the Richmond Collection. What was unique was what the Baxter PTA compiled over the years. There were snapshots of the old Baxter building as well as faculty members. A PTA member wrote a document describing the new building in precise detail. There was even a program from the dedication ceremony.
Copies of some of these findings will be available in the Reference Department Pamphlet File folder for Baxter.
Brief timeline for Baxter Elementary School construction
1890 – Baxter Elementary School constructed costing $19,500, named for an early Richmond settler William Baxter. The school is on land that had been part of his extensive farm. It was the first Richmond city school west of Whitewater River.
1954 – discussions about a new Baxter building begin
1957 fall – additional property purchased for new building costing $49,374
1958 spring – construction begins
1959 June – new building completed, costing $278,431 for construction and $16,900 for furniture and equipment, area of 19,460 square feet
1959 summer – old building razed, area used for constructing playground
1959 September – classes begin in new building
1959 November 8 – dedication ceremony
West Side Enterprise
The Richmond Story: A Decade of School Building Construction 1950-1960.
Let’s Take Another Look at Richmond City Schools 
Another Look at Our Schools 1949-1959 
— Abby Bryan