History of Johnston

Johnston Image
The History of Johnston Elementary School

On April 21, 1883, Robert B. Johnston and his wife Leonora donated one acre of their Johnston farmland to the Buncombe County Public School Committee for the purpose of building an elementary school. On this tract of land, the original Johnston Elementary School was established.

Records show that this first building was a one-room, wooden frame building with a potbellied stove in the middle of the room. By 1919, Johnston Elementary School consisted of three separate rooms. It is not known if the original building was divided or if an addition was built onto the existing structure. A large porch stretched completely across the front of the school and drinking water was obtained outside the building from a well with a hand pump. Students used two separate outside “privies” (toilets), one for the boys and one for the girls. The rooms were separated by grade level and each room was divided by a folding partition. The rooms were heated by coal in potbellied stoves. One classroom had a built-in stage. This stage was not only used for school programs, but was also used by the women of this close-knit community who organized and presented plays, parties, and boxed lunch dinners for the people of the community. Folding the partition back enlarged the room and made it possible to accommodate such large activities.

In later years, due to overcrowded conditions, the eighth grade classes were held in the old Cedar Hill Freewill Baptist Church located next to (and at that time facing) the school building.

In 1920, bonds were sold for a total of $40,000 for outlay purposes and in 1923, five more acres of land were purchased from the estate of Gwen Edwards for $500. In 1927, an additional three acres were purchased from the estate of R.B. Johnston for $2000. This acquisition brought the total property to nine acres, as it stands today.

In 1927, the new brick schoolhouse was erected. This building had six large classrooms, a small library, and a small cafeteria that only served soup and peanut butter and honey sandwiches. A large auditorium downstairs was divided by folding partitions and used as two additional classrooms. This auditorium was later changed to a lunchroom. The lunchroom remained in this area for the duration of the school. The new schoolhouse had indoor plumbing with one large boys’ and one large girls’ restroom. Three double spigot water fountains were also located in the main hallway.

Since the early 1950’s there had been many major additions to the original 1927 brick building:

· In 1951, two additional classrooms were added to the original building, along with a lower level multipurpose area called the “gymatorium.”

· In 1960, five more classrooms were added.

· In 1964, a new gym/auditorium was added and was dedicated to Mr. Carroll R. Sorrells.

· In 1976, a large open concept wing was built onto the back of the school.

· In 1977 the cafeteria was remodeled.

· In 1987, the playground was redesigned.

There had been many other changes and improvements to the building-including additional library space, cafeteria improvement, office changes, asbestos removal, new windows, lowered ceilings in some areas, ceiling fans throughout the school, and grounds beautification projects.

Johnston Elementary School educated children from the first grade to the eighth grade until 1971. During the seventies, Deaverview and Kirkwood Apartments opened. This influx caused overcrowding of Johnston School, forcing the seventh and eighth grades to be bussed to Leicester Elementary. In 1977, Erwin Middle School was opened for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Demolition of the 1927 brick building began in late December of 1996. The construction of the current building followed shortly thereafter. Many mobile units were placed on the school grounds for temporary classrooms while new construction was underway.

Our new building was completed and inspected in March 1998. Renovation to the present gym was completed in January 1999.
To date, we have added two mobile units for our Title I and to house a head-start classroom and our Community Resource Center.
In 2012, Joe P. Eblen School was opened for fifth and sixth grades. Johnston now educates kindergarten through fourth grade. 
We are looking forward to many more happy years at Johnston Elementary School.