Abandoned Switzer School and West Jr. High in the West Side

Abandoned Switzer School and West Jr. High in the West Side – Shots from Wednesday night 8/31 of the old Switzer School and West Junior High in the West Side neighborhood of Kansas City, as seen from the 20th and Summit side. Looking on the Google maps I see there’s a whole other side to it down the hill to the west I should check out too. Above the entryway on this side of the building it said Public Library.

According to this Pitch article from 2008…


Switzer School, West Junior High and Switzer Annex
1810 and 1829 Madison
Yuppies continue to renovate and build on the West Side, and here’s a future condominium complex in the making. Not far from Mexican bakeries and upscale bistros, this complex of 10 lots has the potential to be a Kansas City gem once again.
History: Switzer opened in 1881 and served as a middle school for the children of West Side immigrants, first Scandinavians and then Mexicans. Educators figured the kids wouldn’t go to high school, so Switzer offered classes from seventh through 10th grades. The oldest of the abandoned schools, it’s also one of the longest abandoned, having closed in the 1980s.
Square footage: 82,596
Price: $1.6 million



EDIT on 04/17/2018 – updated view in 2017 of Switzer school after renovation to apartments.


24 replies
  1. Jesse Bright
    Jesse Bright says:


    Im an architecture student at KU and am working on a project this semester in which we are generating ideas for the renovation of West Switzer school. May I use some of your photos of the school for the project. I will happily give you credit.

    Thanks Jesse

  2. Josie Terrazas Stamper
    Josie Terrazas Stamper says:

    I attended Switzer grade school then West jr. to the eighth grade. Both were great schools with the very best teachers. West jr. had a wonderful pool and the auditorium had the most beautiful velvet drapes. My best school memories are from these two schools. I had a good start in life in these schools.

    • kimberly earl
      kimberly earl says:

      I am a former Switzer school student and I too as well remember those beautiful velvet drapes to ever touch the floor as well as remembering who all my teachers were oh and yes the memories of my classmates and seeing their faces are very surreal to me I even remember how the inside of Switzer looked as if it were last week

  3. vickie murray-dydell
    vickie murray-dydell says:

    i started switzer in 1969 continue on until i started west junior high graduated in may of 1975 i really the old westside pennway plaza is where i lived grew up and think about often oh so many memories.

  4. Johnnie
    Johnnie says:

    I attended Switzer grade school in the 60’s 3, 4, 5th and 6th grades to be exact. OMG I dont’t know what I thought, but I can’t believe it’s been abandonded. I’m planning to be in KC, MO. for a memoraial in Aug. wanted to drive by my old neighborhood and see what is going on. Amazing. Thank you for the blog and photos.

  5. Rub Lawson
    Rub Lawson says:

    My dad and two brothers lived around the corner near 14th Broadway in 1942-44. My brother, James Joseph, attended Switzer in the
    5th grade. I was a 7th grader, Ruby Joseph, at nearby West Junior High. We loved this poor area of Kansas City and have always gone
    back when possible. What an exciting time to be there during the World War 2 years, The Power & Light Building so beautiful, the
    historic Union Station, and the Municipal Auditorium and Music Hall, I went to see President Truman, General Eisenhower, Doris Day,
    and others…and alone at age 13 and 14 without fear. Amazing childhood there so close to 12th & Broadway and the downtown area
    and all the bluster and patriotism. Now I am 86 and still remember and it makes me happy as these memories come floating back. Thank you so much for the great photography. Ruby Lawson

    • Raeneal McCurrie Kalinka
      Raeneal McCurrie Kalinka says:

      I first attended Switzer in the 5th grade. Loved every minute of it, and loved all the friends on the West Side. Was in Switzer and West Junior until transferring to Manual in 1948. Ruby, James Joseph and I were in a lot of classes together. We were so lucky on the West Side where everyone knew every one else. Friends were life-long friends.
      Remember Dr. Cramer? He had a heart for the poor, and we were blessed with a swimming pool in West Junior. My cousins and I swam there every Saturday. Loved Ms McKenzie, the gym teacher. The pictures brought back memories of a wonderful time in my life.

  6. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    Went there from Kindergarten to seventh grade. I remember drills where we were taken to the underground tunnel between the two schools. I thought they were tornado warning or fire drills at the time. Little did I know that we might have been preparing for an air attack. I remember seeing the yellow warning signs on the walls of the tunnel.

    • Wanda
      Wanda says:

      Any of these ring a bell? Mrs. Paulson, We kids all walked her home after school, she was the best., oh so sweet. Mrs. Gerbur, She was pretty old when I got there but I thought she was cool. By then she was subbing. She taught my older brothers, Edward and James and spoke kindly of them since they were serving our country. I knew she was talking about my brothers as she walked around the room and even though she was praising them, I was keeping my head down .
      Mr. Dody,, Our music teacher. My sister, Catherine did a solo for him in one of the Christmas programs. He used to walk by my desk and try to hear me sing. I could sing but was so shy, I couldn’t get a word out of my mouth if I’d had a key to unlock it. Miss Duncan, red hair and a temper to match. She was my first teacher. Scared the crap out of me. She shook me until my teeth rattled. I don’t remember why. The gym teachers, Miss Miles and Miss Page. Ir has been a long time since I was there but I remember. Families I remember are, Singer, who owned the grocery store, Bayless, Clopp, (which I am proud to be one of) . Foust and Moser,. Time hasn’t taken my memories but darned if it isn’t dimmed after so long.

      • Sharon
        Sharon says:

        Mr Dody- I still think of “No Man Is An Island” and ” sing from the diaphram”. I loved Ms Miles. Attended west in ’60 and ’61.

  7. Frank
    Frank says:

    I started at Switzer in 1948 K – 6 and West Jr. 7 – 10 It was a great school back then. I had a great time and made a lot of friends also.

  8. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Remember the tunnel under the street that we used to go to playground at Franklin. Wonder if they destroyed it? Would so love to go back and check the old hood. Loved it.Poor but blessed!

  9. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    I do remember the tunnel under the street at Franklin. And later at West Jr. The pool was amazing,. And I to remember the long velvet drapes,. A lot of good times and memories.

  10. William Edward Nolen
    William Edward Nolen says:

    Went to switzer & west Jr. From 1944 till 1952, still miss the old neighbor hood, have lot’s of fond memories of the time. The tunnel under Madison st. Is still fresh in my mind, still go back from time to time.

    • Seth O. Eberhardt
      Seth O. Eberhardt says:

      I went to
      Switzer in 1941-43. I remember the swimming pool and Wednesday gym class swimming. I was so afraid of the water I played hookey on those days. I love seeing what they have done to the old school. KC is such a great town, they value the great old buildings.

    • Ann Toll
      Ann Toll says:

      Hello former students from West Jr. in Kansas City!
      Do any of you remember Miss Joan Thrasher (U.S. Literature, History, Civics and probably Speech)?
      She taught 7th & 8th grade for a few years and then got married and moved to Colorado.
      I remember her talking a lot about her experiences there and how she loved her students. Hello to Angela Corona and her family and friends. She also taught (I think) with Marie Kerr. She said Dr. Cramer was a wonderful person and educator. She said he allowed bond issues to be taught about in every class. P.S. Joan was my Mom and has been gone since 2007. I had the true pleasure and gift of having her as a Jr. High U.S. LIt. and HIstory teacher also. Still remember our skits and the map game. She had the amazing ability to find a perfect book which matched the interest and ability of any young reader! Thanks to all of her former students and write if you want to! Ann

  11. Michael Sprenger
    Michael Sprenger says:

    It’s been really cool to learn about all the history of this former school. Reading all of your memories adds so much character to this beautiful building. Just so you all know the education still continues in this building. Part of the building is apartments but the other part of this building is used for ABA and speech therapy for autistic children! My son attends Riley ABA and it’s such a cool facility! They took over what used to be the gymnasium and performing arts center of the building. Their main entrance is the door off of the old stage and when you enter in the old stage is where their front desk and waiting doom resides. They still have the original flooring to the old stage in tact! If you ever have a chance to go see it again I recommend it as it’s been totally renovated and is a beautiful site to see!

  12. Margaret (Bell) Cervantes
    Margaret (Bell) Cervantes says:

    I attended West Jr. 1954-1958.
    The teachers I remember are Ms. Peck, Mrs. Walker, Ms. Ball, Mr. Doty, Ms. Hinters, Mr. Day and Mrs. Marie Kerr. Mrs. Kerr was my best and worst teacher, though she was strict, she was the one I learned the most from. And, who can forget Dr. Cramer and Mrs. Ruth Beatty.

  13. Annetta M White
    Annetta M White says:

    Does anyone here happen to know any of the Doran’s that went to West Junior High School in the late 60’s to early 70’s? I know there were 2 brothers by the names of Johnny Ray and Randy Lee.

  14. Manny Ramos
    Manny Ramos says:

    I too remember going to Switzer both bldgs., remember the tunnel, auditorium so big, swimming pool, the little library. I remember walking to the corner store before going to school to get some candy or play the video games. Always was trying to compete on kicking the ball from the bottom playground to the top playground in kick ball. So many memories. So much walking from the Bluff to school!!
    Was Ms. Walker a principle?


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