May 09, 2024

Farewell Old Friend - Criminal Justice Program Says Goodbye to Ireland Hall

attendees of the criminal justice programs farewell to Ireland hall

Pictured are attendees of the criminal justice programs farewell to Ireland hall event.

The building now known to the community as Ireland Hall, has been a piece of history in Arkansas City since its construction began in 1890. As the town population grew, the school board hired Minneapolis architect Charles S. Sedgwick to build them a school. Sedgwick had a distinct vision for the project and tasked contractor Robert Baird to bring that vision to life. With walls of locally quarried Silverdale limestone set in red mortar, the Romanesque structure was a marvel of engineering. However, an already over-budget Baird failed to add the finishing touch to the project, a clock meant to glorify the lavish tower of the building.

In 1922, a new high school was built to accommodate the influx of new residents, and the building formerly housing them was used for the education of sixth-grade students and some of the first classes held by Cowley College. Following the exit of the last class in 1941, the USO began utilizing the building as a social club for the youth in the community called a “Teen Town”. The building also served as the location for various Red Cross operations throughout World War II.

By the end of the war, the “Red School House” as it was affectionately known, had fallen into disrepair. As the school board contemplated selling the property, Cowley President Dr. Paul Johnson devised a plan to purchase the building along with other plots that now make up the Cowley Campus. Devoted to restoring the landmark to its former glory, restorations of the building began in 1978.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Ireland Hall was dedicated on December 12th, 1982, after W.H. “Pat” Ireland, former Cowley Board member. Since then, it has housed classrooms for Education, Cosmetology, and Criminal Justice programs and continued to serve and educate the community.

Thursday, May 9th, the Criminal Justice program took time to say goodbye. As the completion of the new Technical Education Center approaches the time has come to pay homage to our faithful friend - Ireland Hall. Returning Criminal Justice graduates and current members of the program gathered to commemorate the legacy of the building one final time. 

Hunter Ferguson | Integrated Communications Specialist
Cowley College
125 S. 2nd Street
Arkansas City, KS 67005