Edison Elementary is a rare treasure: a traditional neighborhood location where the majority of students walk or bike to school. Established in 1926, Edison has educated generations of neighbors and members of the community.
Our school values of Cooperation, Compassion, Integrity, Inclusion, and Respect are infused in everything we do. We care deeply about educating future citizens of the world, and our curriculum and activity choices reflect this value.
Edison School, built in 1926, has been the centerpiece of the South University neighborhood since it opened its door to 150 students. Eugene was a city of just 20,000 residents. Edison is still the oldest school building in Eugene still housing classrooms for 4J District students. While there have been, and will continue to be, renovations and improvements to the building, it’s longevity is due to its beautiful brick facade and the warmth the building and atmosphere of the school lend to the neighborhood.
Eugene architect Theodore H. Gerow designed the Georgian colonial style school, as well as two houses in the neighborhood (his own home at 2065 University St., and 2182 Potter St.). The Historic school retains its architectural integrity and stately design, exemplified by the beckoning arched, recessed entry. The original building is distinct from later additions and is still easily recognizable.
Edison’s early environment, however, was quite spartan. No library, no cafeteria or kitchen, no stage or auditorium, no administrative office or nursing station. No play structures, grass or trees. the original design of the school was simple: eight classrooms forming a U-shape surrounding what today is the gymnasium. That gym area began as nothing more than a roofed-over dirt floor.
Only half the current playground was developed when Edison opened; the other half included an old house foundation. There was no paved 23rd Avenue, only a muddy road that was often impassable in the winter.
The original classrooms were built to serve up to 40 students. By 2007, the average classroom size at Edison was 25, although that number has risen again since then. The early Edison School had six grade levels, but no kindergarten. Through volunteer efforts by the PTA, kindergarten was offers in the 1950s and then by 4J following a district wide election in the 1960s. While kindergarten was only offered half day for many years due to district budget cuts, starting the fall of 2015 kindergarten has become a full time regular part of the entire 4J curriculum. Edison now serves students through the 5th grade only.
By the 1940s, increasing enrollment brought the addition of basement classrooms beneath the original three wings. The gym was enclosed and given a proper flooring. The 1950s brought even more students ready to study at Edison. To accommodate them, four new classrooms were built in 1950 in a two-story addition just west of the present administrative office. Westward expansion from 1951-53 added two more classrooms as well as the library, cafeteria, kitchen, storeroom, nurse’s office and auditorium.
A final spurt of growth in the 1960s added space to the south side of the building, creating more room for the library as well as additional classrooms. Edison reached its peak enrollment of more than 400 students during this time.
The 1970s saw the rise of alternative schools and decline of enrollments as the baby boom subsided. With Edison’s enrollment shrinking, Eastside Alternative School was given space in the building, which became known as Eastside/Edison School. The marriage didn’t last after Condon School closed in 1983 and boundaries were redrawn, sending former Condon students to Edison. Edison/Eastside became just Edison School again. Eastside moved to share space with the nearby Parker School (both closed now. The Parker School Property became the new home of Charlemagne French Immersion School in the fall of 2015).