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Madison Metropolitan School District

History of Lowell

Lowell buildingOn January 3, 1916, the newly constructed New Irving School opened its doors for the first time to students living on the far East Side of Madison. The school would be known informally during the early years as “East End School” likely because of its location directly adjacent to the end of the east side trolley line that connected the area with the central city. Prior to construction, the school grounds were known as “Circus Hill”, the site of local circuses that attracted crowds of folks who often swarmed the nearby Hess’s Corners for refreshments on show days. During its first year of existence, the school was renamed “Lowell Elementary”. When it began in 1916, the school was fairly small with just 8 classrooms surrounding a central gymnasium. Despite being small in size, however, the school enrolled 411 students in that first year, and by 1919 was overcrowded. In 1927 an addition was added to the school and included a Nutrition Room located on the third floor to serve the educational needs of students suffering from tuberculosis. With the addition, the number of students attending Lowell surged and by the late 1920s, enrollment peaked just short of 1,000 students! 


Who was James Russell Lowell?

James Russell LowellLowell Elementary School was named after James Russell Lowell (1819–1891).  Lowell was a Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate and is best known as an American Romantic poet and a member of a group of New England writers known as the “Fireside Poets”.  The group was called “Fireside Poets” because their poems were written in such a way that made them easy for families to read and share while sitting at their fireside.  Early on in his adult life, Lowell was active in the movement to abolish slavery and for a time was the editor of an abolitionist newspaper.  For 20 years during his mid-life, Lowell was a professor of languages at Harvard.  Late in his life, Lowell was appointed to the ambassadorship to Spain. 

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Share a Lowell artifact

In the 2015-2016 school year, we celebrated 100 years of service to the students and families of our community. We’d like to invite you to share your stories, photos, and artifacts about our school!

Please use the submission form above to let us know of any stories, photos, and/or artifacts that you would be willing to share with us or let us copy. If visiting our website is not possible, please give us a call at (608) 204-6600. Thank you for helping us celebrate Lowell!

1916 - now: "New Irving School" to "Lowell Elementary"