Sarah Marley's Historical History

The school at 735 Seventh Street occupies just the east side of the block. That's because the block's west portion formerly held another school.

It was the Seventh Street School, which replaced Douglas' first school. Classes were first held in 1901 in a shack, just north of what became Phelps Dodge Mercantile. In 1902, the town's community hall (that became Douglas Public Library and is now the Douglas Art Association's Gallery) was the site of school classes.

Early in 1902, Douglas residents approved a bond issue that built the two-story Seventh Street School. It welcomed its first students in December 1903.

The school had eight classrooms, and its principal was Thomas Grindell.

Because 400 and more students attend Seventh Street school, double sessions were necessary as soon as the school opened. Portable classrooms were also utilized; students contemptuously called them chicken coops.

Perhaps Sarah Marley agreed. Born in 1879 Nebraska and educated there, Marley moved to Douglas in 1904 to homestead on Brooks Road. She first taught at 15th Street School, then Pirtleville and, in 1909, became Seventh Street principal. She held that position until 1945.

During those decades, Seventh Street became the district's informal training school. New teachers taught there and thus received personal guidance from Marley given in such a manner that most teachers retained pleasant memories of the school.

A good number of students and their families felt the same way. One reason was Marley personally made sure students had textbooks back in the days when parents had to buy school books for their kids.

"That was before the stated had come to accept is responsibility in providing books," a Daily Dispatch article noted. Low-income families with a large number of school-age children received assistance from Marley for book purchases.

During World War I, as Douglas' population and thus its school population exploded, voters passed a bond issue to construct a new Seventh Street School.

These high costs (for the time) came about because the new Seventh Street School was constructed as a grammar school. Its brick walls held a 400-seat auditorium and 14 classrooms. The largest of these, two on the building's south side, were for domestic science and manual training classes.

Even so, the new building couldn't accommodate all the students, and so the old Seventh Street School continued to hold classes. Then in 1924, a fire damaged the old building, which was torn down in 1925.

By then, Sarah Marley held grades 1-6. Grammar school functions were handled by Joe Carlson School.

A fire occurred on October 28, 1938 under the roof of Sarah Marley's easternmost portion. A $2,236.95 insurance payment repaired the damage. In 1947, new wiring and light fixtures went into each room. About 1950, dark classroom walls and woodwork were painted pastel shades.

Marley died on May 9, 1951. On May 11, the day her funeral was held, the Douglas school board renamed Seventh Street School, Sarah Marley School.

In 1966, the school received the first temporary aluminum classroom buildings installed that year on several Douglas school campuses. Sarah Marley's two buildings were used as all-day kindergarten classrooms.

Another Sarah Marley first occurred in 1991 when it became the initial Douglas school to have a satellite dish installed on campus. This project, that made long distance learning possible, was the brainchild of Douglas native Tom Campbell, who was then Cochise County Schools Superintendent.

District remodelings in 1995 and 2003 have included Sarah Marley.

-Ms. Cindy Hayostek, District Historical Researcher


"New Seventh Street Grammar School...", Douglas International, (Jan. 27, 1920).

"History of Douglas Public School...", International, (Dec. 2, 1922).

G. Genevieve Wiggins, "A History of the Douglas Public Schools 1901-1965"

"Library Faculties Discussed", Douglas Dispatch, (Jan. 13, 1959).

"Summer Building At Schools Underway", Dispatch, (June 16, 1963).

"Temporary Classrooms Arrive", Dispatch, (June 22, 1966).

"Lessons are 'dished' out to local students", Dispatch, (Jan. 22, 1991).

"Record of 33 Years as Teacher...", Dispatch, (Sept. 6, 1939).

"Funeral Services Set...", Dispatch, (May 10, 1951).