The first free-public school was established in Covington in 1820. The
school was housed in a log cabin on the courthouse square. In 1836 a
second log cabin school was opened on Garrard Street. These two schools
were merged in 1842 when a new three-room frame schoolhouse was constructed
on the west side of Scott Street between 5th and 6th Streets. The new
school was given the name First District. In 1852, this building also
housed the first night school in Covington for children who worked during
1842 structure served the residents of Covington for more than two decades.
However, by the time of the Civil War, the structure could no longer
accommodate the number of children living in the district. In 1863,
plans were drawn for a new First District School. These plans called
for a three-story red brick building on the same site as the original
1842 building. The new school contained 12 classrooms and a small library
and was built at the cost $25,000. Each classroom measured 24 x 32’
and contained desks for 56 pupils. Coal stoves heated the structure.
The new First District was ready for classes in February 1864. The new
building, however, did not contain gas or electric lighting. The pupils
and teachers had to depend on sunlight to illuminate the classrooms.
On cloudy or foggy days, the rooms were very dark, and therefore, classes
had to be cancelled.
Enrollment at First District reached 789 in 1878. By the early years
of the 20th Century, however, enrollment began to drop. Much of this
loss in enrollment was due to the construction of new residential districts
in the central and southern neighborhoods of Covington. In 1907, enrollment
had declined to 698. By 1912, enrollment stood at 518.
In October 1930, several men broke into the school and stole several
items. Before leaving, they set fire to the building. The fire caused
serious damage, especially to the upper floors. Classes resumed in the
building while the repair work was being done. A local newspaper described
the children sitting at their desks while workmen repaired the ceilings
fire and the relative age of the building resulted in a general deterioration
of the structure. Covington school officials began making places to
replace the building with a new one. The Great Depression of the 1930s,
however, meant there was very little money in the school fund to finance
a new school. In 1931, P.T.A. members Mrs. George Bush and Mrs. S.E.
Vorhees began serving lunch to those children who could not afford to
bring their meals with them to school. A lunchroom was established in
the Scott Street M.E. Church across the street from the school. Typically,
lunches were served to 50-60 children each day.
The Covington School Board received funds from the Federal Government’s
Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s to replace the First,
Third and Fourth District Schools. The First District School was demolished
in 1937 and work on the new building began immediately. While the new
school was under construction, the students of First District attended
classes at the old Covington High School Building at the corner of 12th
and Russell Streets. The new brick First District School was ready for
use in 1938.
During the post-World war II era, the population of Covington declined.
In particular, the neighborhoods around First District lost large numbers
of young children. By 1971, enrollment at First District stood at only
199. The building had a student capacity of 450.
First District remained an elementary school (grades 1-7) facility until
the 1971-1972 school year. In that year, the building was renamed Covington
Junior High School. All junior high school students in the entire Covington
School System attended class in the Scott Street building. This arrangement
continued until 1977, when the First District building was again designated
an elementary school facility housing grades 1-6.
The Covington School Board again changed the status of First District
School in the 2001-2002 school year. The school was renamed Two Rivers
Middle School and was designated the school for all 6th and 7th graders
in the Covington Schools.
Betty Lee Nordheim, Echoes of the Past, 2002; Howard H. Mills,
History of Education in Covington, Kentucky,(University of Kentucky
Thesis) 1929; Kentucky Post, January 17, 1907, p. 2, June 7, 1919, p.
1, October 10, 1930, p. 1 and March 6, 1931, p. 1.