It’s hard to imagine getting to school by boat, but that’s what many children who lived in Elkin had to do in the 1800s.
With no school in town, children had to cross the river to attend school in Jonesville, and with no bridge until 1872, boat was the only means of transportation from Elkin to Jonesville, according to “Elkin 1889-1989, A Centennial History.”
It was more than 100 years ago that Elkin High School was first established. It was built after outgrowing a school building that Elkin’s founding father, Richard Gwyn, built in 1850. That building now serves as a local history museum on Church Street.
After outgrowing that location, the school moved to a wooden frame building with a steeple on top. The building, originally built in 1870, had served as the location of the Methodist church in Elkin. This multi-purpose, five-room structure served as Elkin Elementary School and Elkin High School until 1915.
In 1914, the proposition of issuing bonds for the purpose of building a school was brought to the attention of Elkin voters. A 1914 Elkin Tribune article stated “Elkin found that she needed a better school building. The plans have been drawn … and the foundation started for a modern $25,000 brick school building.”
In 1915 the brand new structure, the Elkin Graded School, was built at the same location of the present-day Elkin Elementary School playground. The school was designed by local architect, John Barlett Burcham and served elementary through high school grades until 1936.
That building was eventually demolished and a new primary school was built in 1975, but the cupola and bell still sit on the property of the current Elkin Elementary School.
In 1936, the Elkin High School building on Elk Spurr was completed. Until 1945, North Carolina schools only had 11 grades, so Elkin High School graduated its first twelfth grade class in 1947. This building continued to serve as Elkin High School until it was demolished in 2009 and replaced with the current, modern structure, which stands today .
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