Mellette Elementary has a long and proud tradition of service to the Watertown community since 1908. The staff has provided a tradition of excellence in educating children for over 100 years. Through those years, many changes have taken place to the building and to the staff. However, the standards by which children are educated have been maintained and will continue to be for years to come.
Mellette School was built in 1908 at a cost of $12,166. It was built on one of the highest hills in Watertown, known as Prospect Hill, and was named after Arthur C. Mellette. He was the last Governor of Dakota Territory and the first Governor of South Dakota. His leadership brought order and integrity to our state schools. Governor Mellette was a graduate of the Law Department of Indiana State University in 1866. He practiced law in Indiana and also served as a County Superintendent of Schools. He was instrumental in creating a sound, permanent school fund program and was considered the first authority in the country on school law.
An addition was added on in 1955, which is currently the kindergarten classroom. A dedication was held on December 14, 1956. Then principal, Etta Greenfield shared that indirect natural lighting was provided, upgrades to faucets and bathrooms, electrical signal bells in all new rooms, new semi-circular gang wash fountain in the boy's bathroom, large planters were installed as part of the cabinetry in the back of each classroom, and heating in each room is thermostatically controlled. These are a few of the upgrades.