Public schools were established almost immediately after the first settlers came to North Lawrence. However, funds were not available for building public buildings, and for perhaps ten years, the school was held in any public place which would accommodate them—churches, halls and even some residences. One of the first schools was located on the south side of Locust Street between North Third and North Fourth Streets. There was another school on the northwest corner of North Fifth and Elm Streets.
Before 1868 these widely scattered locations were accommodating more than 250 pupils. The old Lincoln School on the northeast corner of North Seventh and Lincoln Streets was the first substantial school building to be erected as the Sixth Ward School and shortly thereafter, the Old Woodlawn building was built as the Fifth Ward School on Perry Street.
In 1923 Woodlawn School was burned at 2:30 A.M.
On February 4, 1924, the motion was made and seconded by the committee that the location of the new school was to be at Fifth and Elm Streets in North Lawrence. In addition to a large auditorium (gymnasium), the school has a kindergarten, library, eight standard classrooms, office, clinic, and ample playground. Bonds amounting to $10,000 had been issued to construct the new building.
In 1954 in a decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, all schools were to be desegregated. Consequently, Lincoln and Woodlawn Schools were integrated in 1955.
For several years, some of the primary classes had their rooms in the Lincoln School Building. In 1961, all students were moved to Woodlawn after the completion of the new addition.