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Nickel Plate District

    "Nickel Plate" refers to School District No. 83, which served the surrounding area during the 1800s, and, for a time, Potwin Place. The district encompassed Fillmore, Clay, and Buchanan streets from above 1st St. to 6th Ave., plus Lincoln and Lane from Willow to 6th, including the east side of the 500 block of Washburn St. A portion of both Fillmore and Clay streets formed part of the original townsite of Topeka. Most of the residences date from around 1880 to 1920 and are typically a two-story frame. The quintessential Nickel Plate home is a 2 1/2 story, front gable Homestead style house. Adding to the rustic atmosphere of Americana, many streets and sidewalks retain their original brick paving. A small business zone at the head of Washburn St. catered, and to a lesser extent still does, to the Potwin, Kenwood, and Nickel Plate neighborhoods. Edleblute's Drugstore was the best known of these little shops, and has been relocated to Ward-Meade Park. Legend states that the name, Nickel Plate, comes from a district board meeting where District 83's representative was explained how things went in his district. One lady from another district reportedly said, "Oh, don't tell me anything about District 83. The children there are all nickel plated." Now, this was during a time when nickel decorations for cooking utensils and appliances was an innovation, and the remark, which was initially made as a joke, became an accepted term and the people of No. 83 were proud of the compliment. 
Nickel Plate School
    The centerpiece of District No. 83 was the elementary school located at 2nd & Buchanan, which bore its namesake: Nickel Plate School. After about a decade of being a country school, it was annexed by the city school system in 1900. After standing vacant for some time, in 1904 it was moved to the grounds of the Washington School at 11th & Washington. A few years later a new building was built on the site of the Washington School and the Nickel Plate School was apparently destroyed.

Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School 
    Opened in 1927, then Roosevelt Junior High, was the first school in Topeka built during the "junior high movement". Designed by Thomas W. Williamson, Roosevelt JH was built on the site of the old Nickel Plate School, which had been the school for prominent families towards the end of the 19th century. It was a school that was soon involved in controversy. In 1932 Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, and some had thought that the school was named after him. This upset the builder of the school, a staunch Republican, and petitioned the Board of Education to officially name the school after Theodore Roosevelt, as it had initially intended to be. Then to make sure there was no confusion, the nickname of the school became the "Rough Riders," in dedication of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders who led a charge near San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Continuous remodeling had been undertaken throughout its tenure, and the last remodeling was completed in 1975, due in part to the district heading towards a middle school concept. Roosevelt was the junior high that governors' children attended until 1960, when Cedar Crest became the home of the governor. The school was closed in 1980 and razed the following year.

Kay E. Meadows Elementary School 
    Named after the first African-American member and President of the Topeka School Board, Meadows Elementary is the newest school to inhabit the grounds between Clay and Quinton streets and between 2nd and 3rd streets. Meadows is under the jurisdiction of USD 501 of Topeka and is accredited as required by the State of Kansas regulations 91-31-32. Students attending Meadows primarily come from the Ward-Meade, Kenwood, and Potwin neighborhoods. However, because of the upgraded curriculum and facilities of the school, as well as the proximity to a major interstate (I-70), Meadows is a prominent fixture in the area and continues to increase the quality of life of its environs.

Other Properties of Significance 
    Chester Thomas Jr. House: 311 Fillmore - Thomas and his father, "Uncle Chet", were prominent territorial pioneers who were involved in early Topeka politics. Chester Jr. was Sheriff of Shawnee County on two occasions, and Uncle Chet was a county sheriff in his native Pennsylvania (whose duty, by law, was to catch and return escaped slaves but refused to do so).

    James Cuthbert House: 218 Clay - Cuthbert was a business associate of John Sargent, and lived across the street from him.

    John Sargent House: 225 Clay - See John Sargent House.

    Potwin Presbyterian Church: 400 Washburn St. - Located on the outskirts of the Nickel Plate District, this faint Gothic style church was designed by James Cuthbert of 218 Clay.

    Ward-Meade House: 124 N Fillmore - See Ward-Meade Park.

    Westside ("Svensk") Baptist Church: 333 Fillmore - Originally known as the First Swedish Baptist Church, it served Topeka's large Swedish population.