The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon established the first school in the Central Park area. Dr. William Graham, a local physician, donated four lots on the block bounded by Madison, Monroe, Seventh, and Eighth Streets. He stipulated that the building have a chapel for Sunday services.
The Chapel School for Girls opened in 1871 in a two-story frame building. It had classrooms and a chapel on the first floor and a dormitory lighted by dormer windows on the second floor. IN its first year, Chapel School enrolled sixty pupils. It had two terms of twenty weeks each. Primary pupils paid $10 a term, intermediate $15, and advanced $25. If they wanted piano instruction they paid and additional $25 and $5 for use of the piano.
Chapel School closed in 1873, partly because of competition with coeducational Corvallis College and the State Agricultural College two blocks away on Fifth Street. The chapel continued to be used for church services.
Corvallis had two school districts, Number 28 and Number 9, the dividing line between them being Madison Avenue Street. About 1873, District 38 purchased lots at Seventh and Jefferson Streets from Bushrod W. Wilson. This purchase later formed the basis of an exchange of property to benefit both the public schools and the Episcopal Church.
The two Corvallis school districts
merged in 1887. Plans were immediately underway to build a new centrally located school, since on the the school buildings had recently burned. The district was paying rent for classroom space in churches.
The Episcopal congregation was growing in 1886, the Corvallis mission became a parish eager to build a new church. They traded lots with the school district, and dismantled Chapel School, using some of the lumber for their new church at Seventh and Jefferson Streets. In its present location on Madison Avenue that building now houses the Corvallis Arts Center.
Voters approved a $25,000 bond issue to build a large new school on the former Chapel School property. This handsome frame building had a full basement, two floors above, and a square tower on top. On each floor it had four large classrooms. The grand staircase at the entrance faced Seventh Street. The school board accepted the completed building on November 11, 1888, and named it Central School.
In 1890, 271 pupils enrolled in the eight grades at Central School. The principal at the time received a salary of $900 a year. Teachers' salaried ranged from $40 to $65 a month.
By 1903 the one school could not hold all of the pupils. A new primary school was built on what is now the east block of Central Park. It faced Sixth Street. Eventually it was moved to Eighteenth and Polk Streets
as North School, which became Franklin School. In 1909 the first Corvallis High School filled the space left vacant on Sixth Street. At this time, Central School continued to serve elementary pupils, but as time passed, the primary classes moved to primary schools located throughout town. By 1925, Central School had become the Junior High School.
The construction of a new high school building in 1935 signalled the end of Central School's useful life. High School classes moved to the new building on North Eleventh Street. The Junior High School was moved into the old high school building on Sixth Street. In one of its last uses, Central School provided office space for the Summer Recreation Program.
Central School was dismantled in 1935, after having served the Corvallis community for 46 years.