HI Mailbag: Former Locations of Pike High School

Written by on May 14, 2013 in Mailbag - 15 Comments
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Reader’s Question:

I live in Pike Township, and I have heard that the old Pike High School was located near 52nd and Lafayette Road.  There is a store that looks as though it’s built onto another old brick building at around 52nd and Lafayette Road.  I was wondering if that older brick could be a part of the first Pike High School, or if the high school was situated further away from this area?  ~ Your friend, Julia Rutland

HI’s Answer:

The building that once stood on the southeast corner of West 52nd Street and Lafayette Road has frequently been mistaken as having been a former location of Pike High School. The three-story brick structure with stone trim was indeed a Pike Township public school, but it was never a high school.  It was an elementary school that housed grades 1-8.

Pike Township School No. 11 stood on the southeast corner of 52nd Street and Lafayette Road (photo courtesy of the Pike Township Historical Society)

The second Pike Township School No. 11 stood at 5199 Lafayette Road, on the southeast corner of 52nd St. and Lafayette Rd  (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society Archives)      CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT

The first school in Pike Township was conducted in a cabin on the west bank of Eagle Creek in 1822, the same year that Marion County was organized.  Other schools popped up in cabins around the township in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s, but there was no official school system in place until the township was sufficiently settled to establish one.  In 1853, the township was divided into twelve school districts.  Over the next few decades, a dozen schoolhouses — most of them just one-room or two-room frame structures — sprang up around the township.  In 1889, there were twelve schools operating in Pike Township.

The red arrows above indicate the locations of the 12 Pike Township Public Schools that existed at the time of this 1889 map (map courtesy of Indiana State Library)

The red arrows indicate the locations of the twelve Pike Township Schools that existed at the time of this 1889 map               (map courtesy of Indiana State Library)                       CLICK ON THE MAP TO ENLARGE IT

Although each of the Pike Township schools was numbered, most of them also had names associated with them.  The school at 5199 Lafayette Road was officially School No. 11, but it was alternately called “Snacks Crossing School.”  Built in 1913, the three-story brick building replaced a one-room schoolhouse that had stood a few blocks further south for about half-a-century.  The second School No. 11 got its nickname from being at one of the busiest crossroads in Pike Township.  Besides serving as a meeting place for local residents, that corner was also one of the last stops for travelers leaving Indianapolis on US Route 52.  For many years, there was a bus stop at the corner of West 52nd Street and Lafayette Road.  The grocery, gas station, and restaurants at that intersection were the places at which local people got together with neighbors and travelers stocked up on items for their trips north to Lafayette and Chicago.

After 5199 Lafayette Road ceased to be a school, the building housed a variety of different businesses over the years.  Its longest (and final) use was as Earl’s Auction Company & Liquidators, which was established in the mid-1950s by Earl Cornwell, Sr.  The old school building was eventually demolished, when Earl built a new facility just south of it.  A gas station now stands on the corner where the school once stood.  When the 1913- built Pike School No. 11 was being razed, the stone arch over the entry and some of the bricks from the exterior of the building were saved.  They were incorporated into the new Snacks Crossing Elementary School at 56th and Moller Road, which was given its name in honor of that piece of Pike Township history where the name originated.  However, at 5455 West 56th Street, the current school is almost a mile north of the original Snacks Crossing.

School No. 11 or Snacks Corner School became Earl's Auction in its final years (photo courtesy of Earl Cornwell, Jr.)

School No. 11, also known by the name Snacks Crossing School, became the home of Earl’s Auction Co. in its later years   (photo courtesy of Earl Cornwell, Jr.)                                      CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT

The first school in which high school courses were taught in Pike Township was not actually a high school, but an elementary school.  Pike Township School No. 6, which was located in New Augusta at the intersection of W. 73rd Street and Coffman Road, began to offer secondary-level classes in the fall of 1889. Compared to all of the other district schoolhouses, the four-room, two-story building was quite large.  As there were only a few students wishing to take high school courses at the end of the 19th century, a separate high school was not yet warranted.  The high school students’ classes met on the upper level of the elementary school.  The first two students were graduated from high school in 1892.  That 19th-century elementary school building later became the gymnasium for the high school that was built next door to it.  Although the high school building is now gone, the former elementary school and erstwhile gym is still standing today.  It is privately owned and houses a heating and cooling company.

Built in the 1880s, School No. 6 was converted to a gymnasium in 1912, after the new high school was built just east of it  (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society Archives)

Built sometime prior to 1880, School No. 6 was converted to a gym in 1912, after a new high school was built to the east of it (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

There have been three incarnations of high schools in Pike Township over the past century; however, only two of them were named Pike High School.  The first high school in Pike Township was built in 1909, in School District 6.  It was called New Augusta High School.  It was located on the northwest corner of W. 73rd and Pollard Streets.  The building no longer exists.

In 1909, the first Pike Township building to contain only high school students was built (photo courtesy of the Pike Historical Archives)

In 1909, the first Pike Township building for high school students excusively was erected immediately east of School No. 6  (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society Archives)        CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT 

The second high school in Pike Township was built in 1938, on the southeast corner of W. 71st Street and Zionsville Road.  It too was called New Augusta High School for the first few years of its existence, but by 1945 was renamed Pike High School.  When yet another new Pike Township high school was constructed in the 1960s, the existing facility then became Lincoln Junior High School and later still, Lincoln Middle School.  That building no longer exists either.

A new high school was built at 71st and Zionsville Road in 1938 (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society)

The new high school built in 1938 on the southeast corner of W. 71st St. and Zionsville Rd. was surrounded by farmland  (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society Archives)                  CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT

When the building that would become the second of the three high schools in Pike Township first opened, it housed children from first grade through twelfth grade.  The twelve small district schools sprinkled throughout the township were closed, and all students in all grades were sent to the new building.  Gradually, new elementary schools were built throughout Pike Township to replace the old schoolhouses, and the younger students then returned to the schools in the districts where they lived.  Eventually, the new high school accommodated high school students only.

The second building to become a high school in Pike Township was constructed in 1938 (photo courtesy of Pike Historical Archives)

The second building to become a high school in Pike Township was constructed in 1938, near 71st St. and Zionsville Road   (photo courtesy of Pike Township Historical Society Archives)

The third incarnation of Pike High School was built in 1965 on land south of second high school.  The current Pike High School has had numerous additions and enhancements over its 47+ years of existence. As mentioned above, the building that had previously served as the high school for about a quarter of a century became a junior high school in 1965 and later a middle school.  A new middle school has now replaced the 1938 building.

Bird's-eye view of the current Pike High School campus, which has has numerous additions since 1965 (map courtesy of bing)

Aerial view of the current Pike High School campus, which has had numerous additions since its original 1965 construction   (map courtesy of bing)

The present Pike High School campus is located on more than two acres at 5401 W. 71st Street.  After multiple expansions, the main building has nearly 96,000 square feet.  The student population is about 3,000 and includes grades 9 through 12.  If you attended Pike High School, Historic Indianapolis would enjoy hearing your memories.  You can leave a comment below.

Entrance to the current Pike High School

Entrance to the current Pike High School at 5401 West 71st Street


If you have a question about Indianapolis history, please send it to historicindianapolis (at) yahoo (dot) com, with “HI Mailbag” in the subject line, and I will do my best to answer it.  ~ Sharon

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About the Author

Sharon Butsch Freeland is a freelance researcher, writer, proofreader, and editor. She's a proud alumna of Shortridge High School and MacMurray College and over the years has also taken courses at Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University, University of Colorado, Colorado Academy of Art, and the Indianapolis Art Center. She's been the executive director of a nonprofit association, a newspaper columnist, a residential real estate broker, and a political campaign staff member. Fascinated by Indianapolis history from an early age, Sharon's passion for bygone eras became even more compelling when she discovered that her ancestors had settled in Indiana in 1828. Since learning that she's a seventh generation Hoosier, many details about both the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis have taken on new meaning for her. Sharon enjoys helping others get excited about the history of Indianapolis, as well as the histories of their own families.

15 Comments on "HI Mailbag: Former Locations of Pike High School"

  1. Norm Morford May 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm · Reply

    Sharon — as always, your history items and commentary are “the best of the best.”

    See you Sunday, at least at the end of the concert at Christ Church Cathedral.


    • Sharon Butsch Freeland May 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm · Reply

      Thanks for your comment, and thanks for treating Mike and me to dinner after the celebration at Christ Christ Church Cathedral. We enjoyed the concert, the companionship, the conversation, and the cuisine! ( Now, that’s a lotta words starting with the letter “C”! )

  2. Brad May 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm · Reply

    The second building is now Lincoln Middle school

  3. David May 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm · Reply

    The current Lincoln Middle School was built circa 1995, and the 1938 building was subsequently demolished. An elementary school built in 2003-ish now sits on the site.

  4. Tom Davis May 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm · Reply

    Brad, the current location of Lincoln Middle School is in a new building to the NE of the high school with it’s primary entrance off of 71st Street. It is visible in the aerial photo in Sharon’s article. My son is a Pike High School graduate, but went to Guion Middle School (across the street from the former Krannert mansion site, the subject of Sharon’s article a couple of weeks ago.)

  5. David Brewer May 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm · Reply

    My folks were big auction-goers in the 1960s and 1970s. I remember spending many Saturdays at Earl’s Auction as a little kid. The idea that it used to be an old school fascinated me. Great to finally know its history.

  6. Rheeda Lagadon-Billings May 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm · Reply

    Thank you for this story/history of Pike Township schools. I am a member of the Pike Twp. H.S. Class of ’66. We were the first class of seniors to graduate from the “new” Pike High School building (with the planetarium and the swimming pool). All our undergraduate classes were in the 1938 building. I always loved the natural lighting in the “old” gym.

  7. Ross Reller May 18, 2013 at 8:14 am · Reply

    Sharon, this is just fantastic, and I commend you for this great website. Our house at 7889 Moore Road is directly across the street from the site of #12, one of the township’s earliest schools. The school was located in a wedge of land between Lafayette and Moore Roads on property now owned by Bo and Nancy Elder. But the best part of the story is that prior to the school on the site, there was a church building, constructed before the platting of Traders Point in the 1850s, in which itinerant preachers, including Henry Ward Beecher of Second Presbyterian Church, frequented. According to historian Barry Sulgrove, Rev. Beecher preached here until 1847, at which time he and his wife left Indianapolis (on the first train ever to head east from Indiana)! Most folks have forgotten or never knew that Henry Ward Beecher was once known as the most famous man in America, as well as the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although his presence in the area predates the village of Traders Point, Sulgrove confirms the existence of an 1840s church in this still agrarian part of Pike Township. Maps from the 1880s confirm the site of the church would later become School 12. Thanks.

    • Tiffany Benedict Berkson May 18, 2013 at 11:21 am · Reply

      We are indeed lucky to have Sharon as one of our contributors to Historic Indianapolis.com–thanks for sharing!

  8. Hank Phillippi Ryan May 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm · Reply

    This is so terrific! Thank you, Sharon! I went to School 11, on the yellow school bus,…gosh, from 1963 to …well, let me think about that. Did we move to a new school, in mid-high school? The “new” one-story, flat-roofed school. The “old” school was very 1950’s — with three floors. Lots of tan lockers and tan-painted brick walls. The seniors wore “senior cords” — special corduroy skirts and pants that were decorated with drawn-on memorabilia and graffiti. I think they did away with them, sadly, before I was a senior …they were a real rite of passage. (I was Ann Sablosky then…)

  9. Julia Rutland June 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm · Reply

    THANK YOU so much for researching this – not just for me but for everyone who had this same question. You all never cease to amaze me with the vault of information you continue to build. What an invaluable resource you are for our city. You do such a great job in helping us to learn more about our past, which in turn, helps us with our present and future.

    Thanks again!

  10. randy amos August 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm · Reply

    Great information. Thanks so much for the hard work and sharing it with us all.
    A question I have is on the Traders Point area. How did it get its name, what are the real boundaries, what was at the location, and what happened to them when they had to move because of flooding?


    • Ross Reller August 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm · Reply

      The spot where Eagle Creek crosses Lafayette Road is a logical guess. This would have been a point where trade was most likely to occur between the fur traders and the Indians. There is considerable evidence that exactly such activity took place. The first white man known to have owned property in the area was William Conner, a well known fur trader who used his knowledge of the Indians and their culture to negotiate treaties with the Indians on behalf of William Henry Harrison, the first governor of the Indiana Territory. Conner bought a single parcel in Marion County, an 80 acre parcel that included the exact spot where Eagle Creek and Lafayette Road intersected. At that time, in 1823, Lafayette Road had not yet been platted. But by 1835 it would become the first road through the township, evidence that it may have been a familiar trail to the traders and Indians at the time of Conner’s purchase. The map above is from the 1956 quadrangle map and predates the construction of Eagle Creek Reservoir and Interstate 65. At that time Dandy Trail entered Traders Point and Lafayette Road south of a gas station now occupied by a city transportation garage.

      • Sharon Butsch Freeland August 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm · Reply

        Thank you for answering Randy’s question. There’s no one better than you to answer a question about Traders Point!

  11. Patrick Pearsey April 23, 2015 at 9:30 am · Reply

    I live in the 5300 block of W. 46th St., and from my own research and understanding, there was a schoolhouse, 1-story, brick, standing at the intersection of what is now W. 46th St. and Lafayette Road. Harry Hollingsworth, a local historian/sage told me that this school was known as the “Limbo” school because you were suspended between Heaven and Hell if you attended. The teacher switched Henry Himes around 1915 once too often and to get revenge, Himes stuffed all of the teacher’s switches in the school stove. The school burned down. It was described as a one story brick building. School was held in Mrs. John R. Myers’ kitchen across the street. This school is on an 1864 map of Pike Township and also on the 1889 map above, apparently listed as School No. 11. It does not appear to be at 5199 N. Lafayette Rd., where the 3-story building was built about 1913. The Limbo School would have been located at where the main entrance to Walmart is now. In the 1960’s this area was empty except for trees. John R. Myers (1859-1929) had a two-story brick home at the SW corner of 46th & Lafayette Rd. This imposing home was still standing about 1964 but was torn down and replaced with a Standard/Amoco station. This lot is now vacant.

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