History of William Knight Elementary

William Knight Elementary School was named, in 1976, after an early settler in the Canby area. William Knight is credited with building the first frame schoolhouse on Baker Prairie in 1875. This schoolhouse was in place on Baker Prairie five years earlier than when the original 24-block town site of Canby had been mapped. The town of Canby was originally platted in 1870. In 1880, the original 24-block town site of Canby was mapped.

School District 86 was established July 9, 1887, with the donation of a piece of property with one corner at N. Grant Street and NW Fourth Avenue. Richard Koehler donated the property to the school district. His donation was to be used only for school purposes and included all of block 22 in the original 1870 town plat of Canby. A two-story frame school building was constructed on the site in 1890, and was later moved to make room for the 1912 three-story building, which was destroyed by fire February 19, 1974.

In 1947-48, School District 86 built a second school on the N. Grant Street property. It was the first stage of the brick building, which proudly bears the name William Knight. This school has been remodeled and expanded at least twice over the years.