The First Schools

Kimmel Park.jpgThe first school house consisted of an earthen floor log cabin built in 1850. The structure also served as a church and community hall. Fathers from around the area took turns teaching children the basics in education. According to historic accounts, the location for this original school house was “near the cemetery,” just southeast of the Santa Fe railroad and north of the “Waxahachie highway.

Eleven years after its construction the log school house went up in flames. In 1861 it was replaced on the same site with the Church and School. This new structure served multiple purposes. Besides serving the area as a center for religious and education needs, the building became the meeting place of the Grangers - an organization for local farmers, and site of the area’s first community store.

Kimmel Park, in the Original Town section of Midlothian, once served as the site for the Polytechnic Academy, later called the Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1883 by William Wesley Works, the Institute functioned as a private coeducational boarding school that offered a full curriculum emphasizing the fine arts from grade school to primary school, and included higher education. Works had served as the principal of the Midlothian schools prior to his establishment of the Institute. After a fire destroyed the Institute in 1893, a larger building was constructed on the same site.

With the death of the Institute’s founder, the school was renamed Whitten Institute in 1896 after its next successor. After this person departed before 1900 the school became Midlothian College. During this period the college struggled financially and was eventually consolidated with the Midlothian public schools in 1903. Due to building neglect what remained of the college was dismantled in 1908. J. C. Kimmel bought the land and his widow gave the land to the city for a park. Today, a historical marker in Kimmel Park serves as a reminder of this educational establishment’s short, but important imprint to the history of Midlothian.

Today, the Midlothian Independent School District (MISD) celebrates over 100 years in education and includes two high schools, two middle schools, and seven elementary schools. The MISD covers an area of approximately 111 square miles. Besides serving most of Midlothian, the school district also serves students living in portions of Cedar Hill, Mansfield, Maypearl, Ovilla, Venus, and Waxahachie.