Location of Adams County within Colorado ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO The COGenWeb Project

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The children of the early settlers of Westminster, or Harris as it was known then, attended school in two small buildings built on land donated by the town's first settler, Pleasant DeSpain, Sr.  The first school was a two-room red brick building known as the Upper School, which was built in 1887 on the corner of what now is 80th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard. The second school known as the Lower School was built two years later, this school contained three rooms instead of two rooms like the Upper School.  The Lower School was built on the corner of 72nd and Lowell and still stands today. At the present time it is used as an administration building.

Youngsters in grades one through four attended the Upper School and those in five through eight went to the Lower School.  The youngsters south of Harris went to Baker School.

The street, known as 72nd at that time, was lined with big cottonwood trees.  Before the twobuildings were built, the children of Harris had to go to school in Wheat Ridge, according to history written in 1961. Pleasant DeSpain, Jr.


attended school in Wheatridge, but his sister Maude went to the Upper School.  Just as the schools today, they served as a meeting place for women’s league, men’s meetings; the Harris School or which was known as the Lower School, was the meeting place for the first church in Harris, "The Community Church" now Westminster United Presbyterian Church.

Then in 1911 when Harris was incorporated as Westminster, the Lower School became known as the Westminster Grade School.  Youngsters attended grades one through eight, the kids that did go on to high school went to North Denver or Arvada High Schools.  In 1911 when they changed the name, it seemed more kids came to Westminster Grade School, so in 1924 the enrollment of Westminster reached a point that a Junior High School had to be added.

In 1961, city history shows that in the year of 1924 that four boys were enrolled in the Junior High School, with 95 pupils in the grade school.  Only seven students graduated from the eighth grade, so the next year they had a few return.

In 1924 inventory shows that the physical plant of the growing of school District 9 consisted of one brick building, two frame buildings, and two out-houses.


The following year, 1925, the enrollment had reached 115 children which was excellent for the city and how many kids lived there.  It seemed that it wasn’t too hard to get kids to go to school for a while but they took vacations once in a while.  Also that year they enlarged the school. They also added a library which consisted of 125 books which were valued at $8,200; the books covered everything.

By 1929 District 9 decided that they needed their own high school instead of the students traveling to North Denver or Arvada for school.  So mid-way through 1929 Union High School was built right next to the Westminster Grade School.

At the present time the Harris school is known as the Administration Building for District 50.

The old school house still stands and is still located at 72nd and Lowell in the Career Enrichment Park. The building is in great condition for being 90 years old.

In 1924 the school had five teachers at the time and were all women.  Three of the teachers taught in the grade school for around $130.00 a month and the two other teachers


taught at the Junior High and made an additional $30.00 a month. The principal at the time was Mrs. Nettie Taylor who held an A. B. degree. It was said that Mrs. Taylor was pretty rough and kept things pretty strict around the school house.

Here is a picture of the school house in 1887.

Harris School, Adams County, CO



Jean Cohn
Iver C. Ranum
Matilda Campbell


History of Westminster pp. 6, 7
Westminster Then and Now pp. 125-129


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I do not live in Colorado so I am unable to help with your personal research questions. All the information I know about Adams  County is posted promptly on this site. Please visit the "Research Resources" section of this site. I would suggest that if you don't find the information your looking for here, that you join the email list and post your question on the query board. The more places you ask the question, the better your chances of getting an answer.


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This Page Was Last Updated On: Sunday, 18-Sep-2011 16:45:49 MDT