Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society

Approaching our very special Mt. Eccles Elementary School, we need to talk about what was in the location BEFORE our current school – in fact it was the very, very first school in Cordova.

It was 1908, the railroad was being built and the town was booming. Children needed a school! The Dooley Building on Second Street was partly a medical clinic, but there was one room available for a school classroom. 

Miss Meldah Nettleton was the teacher on the first day of school on Dec. 7, 1908. She taught 36 students at various grade levels in the Dooley Building. Principal Adele Pickle arrived a few years later when enrollment expanded.

By 1949, the school in Cordova was getting very crowded and some of the classes were starting to meet in the church Sunday school rooms and by 1950, in the American Legion Hall. 

In 1955, the kindergarten and primary grades moved into their new home – the original Mt. Eccles school.  The new elementary school contained ten classrooms, an auditorium, superintendent’s office, a large basement, play area and adequate storage space. That year, there were approximately 250 students enrolled in kindergarten through grade eight.

As the City of Cordova begins preparations for the revamping of Second Street, the folks at the museum have been assisting the State Office of History and Preservation as well as the Alaska Department of Transportation in researching the historic areas of Second Street. Over the next few months, the Museum will share some of the stories of those buildings we see every day and their unique history.


These photos are from the collection of the Cordova Historical Society. Much of the information for this article was gleaned from the book: From Fish and Copper Cordova’s Heritage and Buildings by Nicki Nielsen.