By Emily Williams
When Mountain Brook Elementary School first opened its doors in 1929, it served 143 students in grades kindergarten through junior high.
Now 90 years old, the building serves about 530 students in grades kindergarten through sixth.
“While transformations of the physical plant and curriculums may have changed over the last 90 years, what remains the same is the strong sense of community whose collective efforts have continued to result in a school of excellence,” Principal Ashley McCombs said in a released statement. “The most valuable investment has come from the hearts and minds that have come together in authentic relationship so that each and every student can discover and develop his/her unique purpose in life.”
To celebrate the history of the school building and the legacy that continues today, faculty, staff and students took part in a birthday party on Sept. 20 – complete with cake and ice cream. During the event, visitors had the opportunity to tour the building and see composites of each of the school’s graduating classes.
Construction of the school began in 1928 shortly after Robert Jemison Jr. began developing Mountain Brook. It was designed in the same English Tudor-style as Mountain Brook Village’s original developments.
While 1928-29 students awaited the completion of the building, makeshift classes were created for the fall semester. Four were in the space above Gilchrist’s.
Once completed, the $45,000, two-story school housed seven classrooms, one of which was used as a principal’s office, and a lunchroom that doubled as a social room.
The original faculty consisted of Principal Bessie Wilhelm, who also taught seventh and eighth grades, as well as three teachers who taught combination grades and two who taught kindergarten. Additionally, the school also employed a music teacher and an “expression” teacher.
The school now boasts 46 certified teachers and 24 support staff members.
Though the city of Mountain Brook was incorporated in 1942, MBE remained a Jefferson County school until 1959, when the city established its first Board of Education.
In 1979, the school hosted a 50th anniversary reunion, inviting members of each of its 50 graduating classes to attend. The anniversary party also raised money for a new playground.
MBE consistently ranks among the best Alabama schools and has been named a National Blue Ribbon School, a Common Sense Media School, a Lighthouse School and an Alabama School of Character.