Lincoln School History

The Story of Salinas' First School

The history of Lincoln School begins in 1870 with the construction of the first school in “Salinas City” (as it was called at the time).  Known as the “East End School", it was a two-room, two-story lathe and plaster building on the southeast corner of Front and Alisal streets, which was later expanded to accommodate more students. The population of Salinas was only about 600, but was growing quickly and soon a second school was needed.  The West End School was built in 1874, and for many years these two schools served children living on the east or west sides of Main St. respectively.  Sometime after 1900, the name of the East End School was officially changed to Lincoln School. 

The East End School around 1885.  Principal: R.E. Colbert. Photo from the John Hughes Collection, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Detail from 1885 picture above. Photo from the John Hughes Collection, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The East End School around 1906.  Photo from the John Hughes Collection, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.

View of Main Street, Salinas City, ca. 1906.  Detail from panoramic photo in the Library of Congress American Memory Collection. Click on image to see it with better resolution.

Second and third grade students from Lincoln (East End) School, 1919-1920.  Teacher is Josephine Decarli, who would become the first principal of the new Lincoln School.  Photo donated by Arline Andersen, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.


The "New" Lincoln School

The rise of agriculture in the Salinas Valley in the 1920’s led to rapid population growth and the need for larger schools.  On Armistice Day, November 12, 1924, the beautiful building we now know as Lincoln School was inaugurated on California Street. The original building had only 8 rooms, and the corridors were open to the inner courtyard.  Later, the building was expanded on the south end and the corridors were enclosed.  The old East End/Lincoln School was demolished and the site became a park, a lumberyard, and now the Tynan Village apartment complex.  On the same day in 1924, Roosevelt School was inaugurated at the site of the old West End School, and for many years these served as the two elementary schools for the City of Salinas. 

The new Lincoln School's first kindergarten class, 1924-1925.  Teacher is Marie A. Brown.  Photo donated by Arline Andersen, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.

“Salinas, with over $8,411,000 ($106 million in 2009 dollars) in its banks in 1924 (making her the wealthiest community per capita in the United States), is busy with industries which are placing her as one of the foremost of the progressive middle-sized cities in the world.  Her high school is one of the finest in the country, costing a half million dollars to build ($6.3 million in 2009 dollars).  Her two grammar schools were also built at enormous cost, and offer the growing boy and girl advantages that cannot be surpassed in any other community.  She has the largest beet sugar factory in the world (capacity 5,000 tons daily), the largest strawberry farm in the world (124 acres), the largest friezia bulb ranch in the world, and the only goat milk condensary in the world.  She raises practically all of the sweet pea seed that is imported [sic] to Europe, the reason being that the sweet pea seed of the Salinas Valley is acknowledged to be the hardiest grown.  Other crops grown here are: Lettuce, artichokes, cauliflower, tomatoes, celery, bulbs, apricots, pears, apples, berries, and the famous Salinas-Burbank potato.  Her population is now estimated at 5000."  Rolin C. Watkins, 1925, History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California. Quote taken from: 10,000 Years on the Salinas Plain, An Illustrated History of Salinas City, California. Breschini, Haversat and Gudgel, 2000.




Principals and Teachers

Lincoln School has a rich history of dedicated principals, teachers, staff and students.  The first principal was Josephine Decarli.  She was a teacher at the old Lincoln School from 1919-1924, and then principal of the new Lincoln School from 1924 until her retirement in 1953…nearly 30 years as principal!  The second principal, Henry Winthers, served from 1953 to 1974.  For fifty years, Lincoln School was led by just two remarkable principals, surely a fact that few other schools can claim.  


Josephine Decarli, first principal of the new Lincoln School (from 1924 to 1953).  Detail from 1919 photo donated by Arline Andersen, published with permission of the Monterey County Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Lincoln also has a long tradition of dedicated teachers.  Minda Johnston started teaching at the old East End School in 1888 and continued teaching at both Lincoln and Roosevelt schools until 1936.  Laura McGregor taught for 32 years, from 1925 to 1957, and could remember the names and faces of every student she ever taught.  Visit the Steinbeck Library reference desk to hear some of her recorded memories of Lincoln School and growing up in and around Salinas.

Thank you to the Monterey County Historical Society for permission to use images included on this page and for access to their archives.  For more information on the history of the Salinas area, please visit their web page.



Mrs. Connie Rossi-Rains

Principal 2010-2014 and Vice Principal 2008-2010

Connie Rains was an instrumental piece in the successful  re-opening of Lincoln School.  It is because of her that many families took a chance on a school that was just getting reestablished.  Through her caring, heartfelt, positive and individualized attitude, students and parents quickly grew to love the school!  She was born and raised in Salinas, and has been an educator for over 35 years... the last 30 in Salinas.  She taught GATE, fifth and first grades, but had taught kindergarten since 1984.  After 25 years at University Park School, Lincoln was fortunate to  have such an amazing Principal take Lincoln through such a transitional phase in its history. The Lincoln school family wishes Mrs. Rains much happiness in her new position at Sacred Heart School and hope she will drop in often to say hello. 


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