Community bids final farewell to Garfield and Arthur elementary schools in Cedar Rapids
May 2024

Community bids final farewell to Garfield and Arthur elementary schools in Cedar Rapids

Imposing stone columns loom tall at the entrance of Garfield Elementary, which remains a rare example of Egyptian Revival architecture in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Garfield is closing at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Alumni, teachers, parents and neighbors attended an open house at Garfield and Arthur elementary schools to tour the buildings and reminisce one final time before both close at the end of the school year, and forever.

Students from both schools will attend the new Trailside Elementary School next fall, on land where the Arthur annex was demolished to make way for the new school.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District is using $30 million in taxpayer “SAVE” funding to build Trailside, the third multi-million dollar elementary school the district has built, with funds that could have gone toward ADA accessibility and other updates to existing schools. Residents were not allowed to vote in the decisions to close schools and build new ones.

Related: School Board overturns recommendation to save Harrison Elementary

The new Trailside school can be seen under construction from a window at Arthur Elementary. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

School District officials have said both of the schools — built in 1914 and opened in 1915 — will be sold, but principals at the two schools did not know about any potential sales.

Read more: Garfield and Arthur celebrate 100-year anniversaries

Photos, yearbooks, PTA records, newspaper clippings and more were displayed during the open houses on Saturday, May 4, 2024.

Photos of past classes were posted during the open house at Garfield Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Many visitors posed for one last time next to the stone signs outside of the schools, a common place for parents to take photos of their children at the beginning of the school year.

School Board members voted in 2018 to close eight elementary schools, build 10 new “mega” schools that would each house 600 students and keep three newer schools. Residents were not allowed to vote on any portion of the plan.

Save CR Heritage held a petition drive and advocated to keep the local schools open, even going door-to-door in the Garfield neighborhood, which stands to lose an anchor and gathering place. The School Board members did not reconsider their decision.

Visitors pose next to the sign outside of Arthur Elementary during an open house May 4, 2024. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Some of the residents, including immigrants, had moved to the neighborhood so their children could walk to the school at 1201 Maplewood Dr. NE.

Next fall, the students will have to walk or be driven to the large Trailside School one mile away, or be bussed if they live far enough to qualify for free bussing.

Garfield, Arthur, at 2630 B Ave. NE, and other Cedar Rapids schools were placed on Iowa’s “most endangered” buildings list in 2022.

See more photos from both open houses, below:



Thank you for trying to save these buildings and neighborhoods. It is a travesty what the school district is doing to Cedar Rapids!!

    Cindy Hadish

    Thanks for your note, Rachel! We wish they would listen.


I wish Cedar Rapids Schools could have talked to Bill Good in Des Moines. Des Moines is using ALL of their historic schools and they all have elevators. Greed and short-sightedness are usually room mates. Jeffrey O’Brien

Chris Glover

My husband Dennis Glover was an excellent artist. He was requested to paint the “original” Athur Knight that was on the wall in the gymnasium. He drew the original art then enlarged it & then drew the basic Knight on a finish piece of plywood. Then he painted it! He was really proud of it! The kiddos, teachers & all the parents loved their new Knight Mascot! Dennis was one of the maintenance workers at that school at the time. Of course the maintenance guys were loved by the kiddos! He kept returning to Arthur to see if they still had his art upon the wall. I know they’d kept it for a long time & it was even on the news many times. I don’t see it on the wall in these pictures but do see some other Knight symbols on the gym wall. He got paid for his work by picking out an old teachers wooden desk that we still have today!
When we had a really bad snow storm in Cedar Rapids area, he had to walk many miles over the large snow drifts as he needed to shovel out the snow & stoke the coal furnaces in the old Arthur building. Then he shoveled his way over across the street to the newer building & shoveled that out as well. Had to also check the ceilings & roof area as that had a very flat roof that tended to collect the snow & have problems! I wonder if that Knight is still around, maybe in the basements old boiler room.


    Chris, I hear your memory. I grew up in the Oakland Apartments adjacent to Garfield. I remember “the pit” light well outside the gym. We wouldbthreaten each other they would get thrown into the pit. Scouts was exciting back then. Jeffrey

      Chris Glover

      Thanks for another memory of Arthur School@

Bonnie Stone

I started at Arthur in the early 60’s. Mr. Mailman showed a bunch of us kids how the boiler worked as he shoveled the coal into it. Miss. Pavalosky
Was our Principal with the Large Spoon she banged on the table at lunch. She was small but had a booming voice. She would belt out, ” Boys, boys, stop that noise” lol.
Mrs Fox was our Art teacher. She had a heart of Gold.

    Cindy Hadish

    Thank you for sharing your memories, Bonnie!

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