Thursday, March 05, 2020

Willard Intermediate School, Santa Ana

Frances E. Willard Junior High School, Santa Ana, circa 1940s.
In discussing the recent passing of local history buff Ken Leavens with his friend, John Sorenson, the topic of Willard Intermediate School inevitably came up. Ken taught there for over 30 years.

“Ken collected information on Willard in the form of the student newsletter and other informational sources,” said John, who also related a number of historical facts Ken has mentioned. “In the early 1970s, Santa Ana began to replace its pre-1933 buildings to meet current earthquake standards,” John said. “[Ken] commented to me on the problems they had in bringing down the old bell tower.”
Willard's original location, in the old Santa Ana High School building on Main..
In 1985, Ken wrote a brief history of the school, which now appears on their Santa Ana Unified School District’s website and which I’ve reproduced below:

A Short History of Willard Intermediate School
By Kenneth Leavens
In 1912, Santa Ana’s first junior high school opened at Ninth and Main Streets. It was housed in the old high school building which had been built in 1900. This first junior high was known simply as Santa Ana Junior High School. In 1922, a new junior high school, Julia C. Lathrop, opened on south Main Street.

The old junior high school was renamed Frances E. Willard Junior High School after the popular abolitionist who spoke out against the evils of alcohol and also championed the rights of women, helping win them the right to vote. The first meeting of the faculty was held on September 8, 1923. Willard’s first principal was William S. Kellogg. Willard remained at Ninth and Main Streets until June of 1931, when the old building was condemned.

The new Willard Junior High School was designed by the architecture firm of Allison and Allison.  It was demolished in June/July 1971.

A new building of Spanish design opened on the present site in September, 1931. It contained a beautiful auditorium and cafeteria. The first principal of the new school was Lyle B. Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell was principal of Willard for 26 years (1929-1955), and the school had only seven principals in its first 62 years.

During the 1970-71 school year, the second Willard building was also condemned for not meeting earthquake safety codes. The school was closed suddenly on a Friday and re-opened on a Monday on a half-day session at Santa Ana High School. The following two years were spent in bungalows on the athletic field until the current building was opened in September, 1973 when the school re-opened on Ross Street it became an intermediate school with grades 6-7-8 (rather than 7-8-9).

The new Willard Intermediate School opened in September 1973.  It was designed by the Blu Rock Partnership; its sister school Lathrop Intermediate was built at the same time and is virtually identical.

In the spirit of continuing improvement of facilities and education at Willard, the current building and facilities are being renovated, with plans for a new two story structure to replace the bungalows, all new technology and science labs, and an all-weather track and artificial turf field.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I Wonder How How Far Back The School Rivalry Between Lathrop And Willard Go Back?..