Community History – Covington – Fifth District Elementary School

Community History - Covington - Fifth District Elementary School

The Fifth District Elementary School can be traced back to the late 1890s. At this time, many of the students living in the southern sections of Covington were attending Fourth District School on Scott Street. Fourth District, however, was overcrowded with an enrollment of over 1000 (on third of the public school pupils in the city). Superintendent of Schools John Morris suggested that a new school be built near the corner of 17th and Holman Avenues. This would do away with the necessity of having the children cross railroad tracks to reach the school,.

Until a new school could be built in the Fifth District, temporary quarters were found in the former home of the Crigler family at the southeast corner of Scott and Robbins Streets in 1897. The school was simply referred to as the New School The School Board commissioned the architectural firm of Scholfield and Rabe to design a new school, which would be located at the corner of Holman and 18th Streets. The design called for a two-story structure containing 12 classrooms built of brick and Bedford stone.

The cornerstone of the Fifth District School was set into place on July 20, 1901. The Covington Elks were in charge of the ceremonies, which included speeches and the sealing of the stone box. The school was completed in June 1902 at the cost of $60,000. The classrooms were described as “large and airy,” each containing six or eight windows. The building had a capacity of 600 pupils. The front lawn of the school was planted with beautiful shrubs and trees, while the rear yard was designed as a playground facility.

Although not located within the former boundaries of the City of Central Covington, Fifth District School enrolled many students for this neighborhood. As new homes were built in the neighborhood, enrollment at Fifth District increased. Already, by 1911, the school boasted and enrollment of 501 students. By the late 1920s, the Covington School Board began to seriously discuss the construction of an addition to the school. In 1929, architect C.L. Hildreth was commissioned by the board to design an addition of four classrooms and an auditorium for the school. This new $40,000 addition was ready for use in September 1929.

Urban flight took a toll on the neighborhoods feeding Fifth District's enrollment. By 1970, enrollment had slipped to 337 in grades one through six. By this time, the building was in deteriorating condition. The Covington School Board decided to close both Fifth and Seventh District Schools and to construct a new school to serve the neighborhood. This new school, Glenn O. Swing Elementary, was built in 1970. Fifth District School officially closed in 1972. The former Fifth District School was used by the Covington School System was an Alternative Education Site from 1872 until 1998 and as a storage facility from 1998-2000. In 2001, the building was sold to a private developer.

Kentucky Post, September 5, 1899, p. 1, January 19, 1901, p. 1, July 20, 1901, p. 1, June 6, 1902, p. 3, June 1, 1929, p. 1, July 31, 1929, p. 1; Betty Lee Nordheim, Echoes of the Past (2002); Northern Kentucky’s Future: A Comprehensive Plan for Development 1972, Vol. II.; Comprehensive Plan of the City of Covington, 1967, Vol. II. 

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