Butterfield Trail Elementary School, located in the northeast section of Fayetteville, was the first open space elementary school built in the state of Arkansas. We opened for the 1968-69 school year. At the time, Dr. Wayne White was superintendent of schools and Mr. Dean May was principal. During the first school year, the school had enrolled about 300 students.
The staff in 1968 included with Alice Reid and Marshal Wilson, first grade; Bette Ann Pittman and Thelma Thomason, second grade; Lynda Lovegrove, third grade; Patricia Kay Weathers, fourth grade; Judith Mackey, fifth grade; Marcia Retrey and John Decker, sixth grade; Mrs. Owen, librarian; Betty Hardin, counselor; and Nancy Netherton, music. Butterfield Trail School was originally designed with partitions to divide classrooms, the plans were revamped by architect Warren Seagrave of Fayetteville for open space teaching. Classes are divided into "areas" or "pods" according to grade level.
Butterfield Trail Elementary is named after the trail for the stage coach that connected Fayetteville with Fort Smith. The first Butterfield stage arrived in Fayetteville at ll am on September 18, 1858, and departed for Fort Smith and points west at 11:50 am. Passengers on the first trip were John Butterfield, president of the Overland Mail Company; T.R. Corbin of Washington; Waterman Ormsby of the New York Herald; and Judge and Mrs. John F. Wheeler and their two children of Fort Smith. The stage arrived in Fort Smith at 2 am on Sunday, September 19, 1858--- 14 hours for the 60 miles from Fayetteville over "the roughest stretch of road between St. Louis and San Francisco." John Butterfield liked Fayetteville so well that he bought a 360 acre farm just west of town, where he entertained his friends from the East.
Fayetteville was the home of Arkansas College in 1858, the first degree granting college in Arkansas. Today, Fayetteville is the home of the University of Arkansas.