Shelbyville education dates back to Shelby County’s beginnings |

The education of Shelby County youth started in the early 1820s.

Just a few years after arriving, James Wilson, who was the county’s first settler, set up the first school in Shelby County in Marion. Wilson taught in a school house at 75 cents per student, according to Chadwick’s History of Shelby County, IN.

A log cabin served as the first school building in Shelbyville on the southeast corner of the public square. William Hawkins served as the teacher, according to Chadwick’s.

In the 1840s, a brick building that was known as the “Shelbyville Seminary” was built for $35,000. The building burned in 1852 and was rebuilt 14 years later.

By 1876, the average attendance was 800 students. Professor J. Martin served as both the proprietor and principal.

By 1909, six school buildings were in use.

Along with the “Shelbyville Seminary,” there was a two-story brick building on South Harrison Street, built at the end of the Civil War.

A third was built on Taylor and Miller streets. It was a two-story structure that was completed in 1882 at a cost of $21,000.

A fourth was built on Colescott and Tompkins streets in 1892, costing $18,000.

The fifth, built in 1895, was at the corner of Pennsylvania and Hamilton streets. It included four large school rooms, according to Chadwick’s.

The sixth, which was known as the “Walkerville” building, was built in 1900. The one-story building cost $3,000 and was a brick structure with slated roof.

The high school at the time was on the corner of Tompkins and Broadway streets. Built in 1895, it served as the high school until 1911 when the school board moved students over to the facility on Tompkins and Second streets. That building was designed by the architect William Ittner Butts and a junior high was added by the architect Elmer E. Dunlap in 1917.

The Paul Cross Memorial Gymnasium was built five years later. Twenty-five years later, the high school was the home of the state champion Shelbyville basketball team, led by Coach Frank Barnes and Mr. Basketball Bill Garrett.

The facility that served as the high school was repurposed after Shelbyville Central Schools moved to its current facilities and is now used as the home of the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department.

Also noteworthy is that the former high school was added to the National Registration of Historic Places in 1996.

Shelbyville Central currently has three elementary schools, one middle school and one preschool.

Coulston Elementary was built in 1956, and Loper Elementary was built in 1960. Hendricks Elementary opened in 2000.

The newest SCS facility, the Golden Bear Preschool, opened in 2019.

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