Namesake of John Wanamaker, United States Postmaster General from 1889 to 1893, Wanamaker Elementary serves Auburn-Washburn's northern-most community.
Wanamaker Elementary provides a safe learning environment that will prepare all students with the necessary skills to function and prosper in an ever-changing and diverse society.
Wanamaker School was first built in 1880. It was named for John Wanamaker, who was the Postmaster General of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was also the founder of Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia, and later in New York City.
A fire destroyed the original school. While a new school was built, the students attended class in an old railroad car.
On October 21, 1932, a boulder was unveiled on the Wanamaker School Grounds. The boulder was donated by the Topeka Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was dedicated to commemorate the Baptist mission to the Pottawatomie Indians. The boulder can still be found on the front lawn of the school grounds along with a plaque that reads:
Baptist Mission Established 1845 for Potawatomie Indians
This boulder rests on the ground once a part of the old mission farm of 321 acres. Northeast of the boulder 113 Rods was the Group of Mission buildings of which the main one of stone 36 x 100 still stands.
Erected by Topeka Chapter of the D.A.R. in 1932.
The new building for Wanamaker Elementary School was completed in 1941. Upon completion, the new school had a capacity of 100 students. It held four classrooms, an office, auditorium with stage, and bathrooms. In 1952, an addition and some remodeling was completed to deal with the increased enrollment.
Further additions were completed in 1984 and 1987, which included classrooms for each class Kindergarten through the sixth grade, a lunchroom, and other utility rooms. In the year 2002, more additions and remodeling began. A new gym was added to the north end of the building. The remodeling also involved expanding the media center, teachers' lounge, and rearranging the nurse's office. A new computer lab was constructed within the former gym space, as well as adding two classrooms where the former stage had been. The music department classrooms were also remodeled. Finally new restrooms were added at the end of the music/gymnasium hall. The building now has 34 classrooms, 3 sets of student restrooms, a media center, a computer lab, a gymnasium, a lunchroom/multipurpose room, a kitchen, and an office.
In the fall of 2002, the original Wanamaker Elementary school bell was returned and dedicated by the Charles J. Myers family. The bell was dedicated to the memory of Marguerite Myers. Charles J. Myers was the director of the Wanamaker school board at the time of the construction of the building. He served 25 years, and was also on the Auburn-Washburn Board after unification of the rural district. Mr. Myers died at the age of 95 in 2005. The plaque on the bell reads:
Original Wanamaker Grade School bell. Donated in memory of school patron Marguerite L. Myers. By her husband Charles M. Myers, and their children Charles M. Myers, Charita J. Cunningham, and Brandon L. Myers.
In 2003, the latest remodeling and additions were completed as pictured in the map and aerial photograph.
Over the years, the enrollment continued to grow. By 2007, a bond was passed which approved the building of a new elementary school, and the renovation of existing schools. As the new elementary school was being built, the district boundaries were redrawn. This adjusted the boundaries of Wanamaker Elementary, and several of its students started attending Farley Elementary School in the 2009-2010 school year.
Today Wanamaker Elementary houses preschool through sixth grades, and is one of seven elementary schools in the Auburn-Washburn school district.