Historical Notes: Benson Schools

The very first school in Benson was in the 1800s in the building shown below. It was just north of the 6th street school on San Pedro.

Picture provided by S. Benjamin

The Sixth Street school shown below was the second school and served initially as both the Grammar school and High school during its lifespan until 1926 when it was replaced by the new Benson Grammar School.

Picture provided by Bob Nielson

Before the new Benson High School was built on the south side of 7th Street west of Patagonia St. there was what was known as the Territorial Industrial School built in 1903 shown below.

Picture provided by Bob Nielson

A later addition to the Industrial School and was part of the Industrial School called the Gymnasium shown below.

Picture provided by Bob Nielson

The old Industrial school Gymnasium was used for many years as part of the Benson school system. In the 1950s it was the music classroom for the grammar school and high school run by Harold Teak. Not visible from the angle shown above, on the west side (back) of the building were classrooms for Agriculture run by Vincent Salmon and a woodworking shop classroom run by William Marquardt. There was a large woodworking shop which served both the grammar school and the high school and a metal shop which served the high school. The metal shop was used to teach welding and forging. Beyond the metal shop was the school bus maintenance garage all of which were attached to and part of the old Industrial School Gymnasium.

Harold Teak made all of his grammar school students learn all four verses of the Star-Spangled Banner before they would pass his class.

To the east of the old Industrial School Gymnasium building was a wooden building (net shown) that served as the cafeteria for both the grammar school and high school run by Mrs. Campbell.

After only a few years the Territorial Industrial School was abandoned and a new Territorial school was built at the present Fort Grant location. Due to problems of ground settling and damage caused by renovations made to the two-story building to convert it into use as Benson High School, it was torn down in 1929. It was replaced by a one-story building shown below which was in use until it burned in 1980. When the two-story Industrial School building was torn down the building known as the Industrial School Gymnasium was the only part of the Industrial School that remained.

Picture provided by Bob Nielson

The grammar school which also burned in 1980 is shown below. It was built in 1926 as a replacement for the Sixth Street School.

In 1953 the primary school building was built to house the kindergarten and 1st through 3rd grades which is shown below and still stands today.

Benson Primary School – Picture provided by Fred Becchetti

Many new additions have been made since the 1950s. 7th street which used to run through the school between the Single-story high school building and old high school gymnasium has been eliminated. The two houses which were for the school administrator, some of the teachers and the grammar school principal were torn down. The house on the corner of Union and Patagonia is gone and the Judd house on the corner of NW 7th and Patagonia is also gone. The old Tennis/Basketball courts on the corner of SW 7th is now a parking lot. Many new buildings, the latest containing 8 new classrooms, which was just dedicated, have been added. With the school now having an “A” rating I guess all the changes are for the good.

Below are drawings of the floor plans of the Grammar School and High School taken from drawings by Carol Haupt Sinclair and Barbara Haupt Johnson.

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