Michael Bushnell

This postcard, numbered 276, shows manual training high school. It  was published by the Elite Postcard Publishing Co. of Kansas City, Mo., and was sent March 6, 1913 to Miss Clara Weiche of St. Joseph, Mo.

The message to her reads: “Just a note from the big city of Liberal, Kansas. This is a very nice place and I like it very much. Have a lovely boarding place and the store is nice and so are the people. Have sold several hats already. Are you still taking auto rides? Love, Mayme H.”

Manual Training School was founded in 1897 and located in the 1200 block of Truman Road, then referred to as 15th St. It was the first school west of the Mississippi River to instruct students in what were then known as  “manual arts.” Boys learned electricity, drafting, metal forging and steam, while girls learned art, sewing and cooking.

Originally, this school had no cafeteria or gymnasium. In 1913, however, girls from a cooking class instructed by Miss Fluke, carried food stuffs to a top floor classroom, where they made sandwiches. They then carried their creations down the three flights of stairs to the main floor and while en route, sold every single sandwich they had made.

The stately buff brick and terra cotta building shown here, was razed in 1969 as part of the Truman Road urban renewal project. A new school structure was built on the same site. It remained Manual Training School until 1990, when it was re-categorized as a mainstream high school under the district’s magnet school program. In 1998, it reverted back to its original curriculum — the instruction of the vocational and technical arts.

Today, that includes automotive technology and collision repair, basic broadcast production, construction technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, early childhood education, fabric care, fashion design and merchandising, greenhouse management, landscaping, health care, CISCO network management and small animal care.