Lucy Bailey Clarke

         Howell School, a three-story building, valued at $12,000 was opened in 1879. On page 137 of the Montgomery County deed book sixteen a deed from H.C. Merritt to the Board of Directors of School District # 12 of property located at 501 Franklin Street is recorded on August 31, 1876. The consideration was $400. A deed from Polk G. Johnson to the City of Clarksville dated November 4, 1879 for a consideration of $1.00 is recorded in deed book eighteen, page 537.
         Daniel F. Wright, M.D., a member of the State Board of Health and "Chairman of the Committee on the subject" has the following comment to Howell school in his brochure on "School Hygiene in Tennessee" published January 1, 1885: "This city has great natural advantages for drainage, and perhaps that is one reason why that little is done toward artificial drainage; only one street has a sewer and in that the surface drainings and the sewerage both pass off by the same channel. The school buildings are neither on the (Howell and Colored) placed within reach of the sewer and consequently have to depend upon their own resources in that respect."
         Howell School, Dr. Wright describes as follows; "The structure is placed on one of the best cites in the city being on the summit of one of few eminencies that overlook the rest of the area. It is on a stiff clay soil retentive of water. The lot has a frontage of 160 feet on the two streets, Franklin and Main, extending 125 feet back from one to another; it has considerable slope from front to back.
         The building is of brick in three stories, the lower of which is raised three feet from the ground, with a cellar beneath ear coal, etc. The height of these is upper and lower story fifteen feet, middle story fourteen feet. The arrangement of the rooms on each floor is the same, being very similar to that of the Fogg buildings in Nashville. It fronts north and south, its entrance from front being south. On each floor is a principal study hail, thirty-eight by fifty-six feet and three recitation rooms facing west, two of which are fourteen by eighteen feet, and two rooms sixteen. by eighteen feet. This arrangement, while excellent in all other respects, entails the same disadvantages as it does in the Fogg buildings, that it necessitates all the windows in the study hail to be placed on one side (the east) so that the room is not sufficiently lighted on the side next to the recitation room (the west). The classrooms are sufficiently lighted. The staircases are front and rear, each with its adjacent entrance hall.
 The playgrounds are abundantly large, but half of the space fails to be utilized, partly on account of being very rough ground and partly through the excessively bad arrangement of the privies which keeps the back ground constantly deluged with the drainings from them and the urinaries. I am happy to say that in a conference with the city board of education I urged the necessity of immediate action in this matter' and a committee was appointed with powers of immediate action.
         Another matter was presented to the attention of the board with the concurrence of Professor Kellogg, the superintendent, the expediency of half time arrangement for little children. Clarksville is now the only city of the six I visited where the exploded practice is kept up of retaining the primary grades in school through the whole five hours of the system; all the other school divides the primary grades into two sections, one of which attends in the mornings, the other in the afternoon. I think the half-time system will be adopted at the class of the present half session in February 1885.
         The first superintendent of the graded schools was John C. Brooks. His third annual report showed an enrollment of 277 white children. The school had nine grades included in the primary, intermediate, grammar and high school departments. The next superintendent was E. Perkins who held the office for three years. H.C. Weber became superintendent in 1880-81 for the year ending in 1881. Howell School showed an enrolment of 532; there were now ten grades. In 1885 J.W. Graham was superintendent.
         The name Howell was in honor of Mr. Archer Howell, a prominent citizen. During the last decade of the 19th century a two-story addition was built behind the original three-story building.
         When the writer of this article began teaching in Howell School in the fall of 1900, at a salary of $30 a month, Professor J.W. Graham was principal. The playgrounds, boys on the west and girls on the east, each had buckets of water along with dippers, sitting on a sort of wooden, shelf for refreshment at recess. Teachers were assigned to each yard to oversee deportment. Toilet facilities had been improved as the building had water closets in the- basement. Halfway down the walk to Franklin Street there was a very pretty iron fountain. When the students marched out two by two they separated to go round the fountain and then form couples again all the way to the steps to the street. When this fountain was placed there and when removed I have not been able to find out, but it was probably when the old building was completely done away with and the old Howell School no longer existed.
         Mr. Graham was succeded by Alfred Livingston who made many changes in the faculty and earned many enemies for himself by so doing. However, he was really a good school man who worked for the best interest of the school, introducing new ideas. After Mr. Livingston came Mr. P.L. Harned, who stayed until he went to the new high school in 1906. Mr. O'Neal succeded Mr.Harned.
         Among the teachers whose names are recalled by some of the older citizens of Clarksville are: Miss Lou Lovell., Miss Bertie Garland, Miss Kate Rogers, Mrs. Trigg, Miss Georgia Neblett, Miss Tardiff, Miss Irene Beltz, Miss Lucille Foust, Mrs. Addie Chetham, Miss Kathleen O'Brien, Miss Lizzie Elliott, Mr Vernon Davis, Miss Fannie Boyd Miss Bessie Bourne,
Mr. Jesse Sibley, Miss Annabelle Major, Miss Mildren English, Mrs Lucy Bailey, Miss Minnie Fisher, Miss Ivie Duke, Mrs. Duke Miller, Miss Eliza Emery, Miss Cante Wilson, Miss Margartte Watson, Miss Mary Gilbert, Mr. Robert O'Neal, Miss Madge Graham, Miss Sarah Winn, Mr. Woosley, Miss Georgia Ramey, Miss Eva Bailey, Miss Hula Lovell, Mrs. S. Shackleford, Miss Mamie Bates, Miss Jeannie Foster, Miss Mattie Rudolph, Minnie Shackleford.
          In 1906 when Clarksville High School opened its doors on Greenwood Avenue the old Howell School with its ten grades ceased to exist and became a school of seven grades only. The elaborate graduation exercises of the tenth grade at Elder's Opera House became a thing of the past.
         Every trace of the original buildings now used a offices by the Board of Education has been obliterated, this new building standing much closer to Franklin Street than the 125 feet mentioned by Dr. Wright. Morley, the English historian said: "Nothing is certain but change. The oracle of today falls from its tripod on the morrow." Old Howell School served a useful purpose during its existence from 1879-1906, and many older citizens think of it with affection.
"Sic gloria transit!."


Deed books 16 and 18 Registrar's office Court House.

"School Hygiene in Tennessee" Daniel F, Wright, M.D., January 1, 1885.

"Along the Warioto" by Mrs Ursula beach.

Goodspeed's History of Tennessee with the article on Montgomery County. 1886.

Special thanks due to:

Mrs. Horace Ritter, Mrs. Lucy Dunwody, Mrs. James Lafeley, Mrs. G.G.
Foskett and Mrs. Carlyle Thomas who furnished some of the material for this paper.

Lucy Bailey Clarke


Death of a Grand Old lady
By Sandra J Stacey
February 13, 2000

On January 22, 1999 a tornado ripped through downtown Clarksville savagely destroying anything that dared to stand in its way. Howell School dared to. The early morning tornado struck with all of its fury badly ravaging her, but could not destroy her. The city wanted to level Howell, but against much protest from citizens and Historians elected to sell her instead. Howell was sold to the Hauck Company who worked to restore Howell to its former glory. This company tried to restore Howell to its original state, even down to the windows. Howell was to have a new lease on life as a complex of business offices.

Photo by Mike Shoulders

When Howell was no longer used as a school, it became the home of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Board of Education. In the spring of 1998 the employees bid fond farewell to this grand old lady. With expansion and a growing population, Howell was no longer large enough to house the Board of Education and its employees, so Howell was sold to the city. This sale sparked controversy over who really owned the building, the city or county. Consolidation was the key issue in this dispute. When an agreement was finally reached, the city bought Howell. The Board of Education moved into the renovated old Acme Boot Factory on Gracey Avenue, and the city moved the police department into Howell. The police department had just taken up residence when the tornado struck.

Howell School was restored and ready to resume her place in society when an early morning fire brought on her demise. Flames leaped and swirled 40 feet into the air as wind gusts whipped the flames higher and higher lighting up the early morning darkness. December 24, 1999 marked the death of a grand old lady. Despite valiant efforts to save her, Howell School finally met her end. Snow flakes flurried like tears as Howell burned. There was no one to rescue her and no reprieve this time. Some of us wept our own tears for a building that had become a personification to us, and it is with heavy hearts that we bid her another fond farewell.

Photos by Barbara Jones


To a Grand Old Lady

 Death of a Grand Old lady.htm

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