Frank Allis Elementary
4201 Buckeye Rd.     Built 1917     Georgian Revival

In 1915 when their proposal for a new school in the town of Blooming Grove failed 50-48 they organized. Riding from door to door well into the night, backers of the school collected enough signatures within hours of the vote to form their own school district.

With equal efficiency, the same group persuaded Lillian Allis to donate two acres of choice farmland for the school just up the hill from the eastern shore of Lake Monona as a fitting tribute to her late husband, Frank.

Local resident Lew Porter took time off from his duties as supervising architect of the state Capitol to supervise construction of the school for free.

Built in 1917, the school received several additions through the years to keep up with galloping growth in the area. Those additions include the 1936 construction of its distinctive colonnaded front, which is the heart of the current school.

The original building was torn down in 1956 to make way for an even bigger expansion, when the post-war baby boom swelled enrollment to more than 1,000.

Hazel Woods, who attended Allis from 1919 to 1926 remembers trying to concentrate in the one-room K-8 school while groups of students were called by grade to the front of the room for 15-minute classes.

When the area was annexed in 1962 to the city of Madison, the Allis district was dissolved and students were split between the Madison and Monona districts.

The building was nearly closed in the 1970s, until the School Board decided to prop it open by housing offices there. Enrollment rebounded in the early1980s when Allis was included in the district's desegregation plan, accepting students from south of the Beltline. Today, it has a population of about 590.

Through it all, the school has remained an anchor of the community, as solid as the 200-year-old Allis oak that grows out back.

Allis Elementary, named for Frank Allis, the son of the founder of Allis-Chalmers Corp.