The Early Years
The earliest school mentioned in local history was conducted in the home of Mrs. Walden, who listed 27 students in her subscription school. The first public school in 1872, part pay and part free, was a 20x 30 building located near what is now the corner of Ash and Pecan streets (probably facing Pecan). The next information available notes that in 1879 the Hunt County Superintendent officially authorized organization of the first public school in Commerce. By 1886, a better building as needed, and Greely Harris donated two acres from the norwest corner of his farm for the new school. This is the site of the present A. L. Day Elementary School on Church Street (presently in use as a storage facility).

Money and labor were donated by the citizens of Commerce for a two-story frame building that had one room on each floor. The first superintendent, Professor Melton, was soon succeeded by Will Whitfield. The six-month school term operated three months free and three months with pay. Approximately 100 students were enrolled, according to one historian.

The next superintendent, J. W. McCleod, who remained until 1889, evidently appreciated the fine arts because a separate music building was provided, and music classes were added in addition to the regular studies. When the railroad arrived, the number of pupils grew and two rooms were added to the building.

When H.P. Eastman became head of the school in 1889, the school had four teachers and ran for nine months, with students still required to pay for three months. Children in thre lower grades studied the traditional "three Rs," but the high school subjects included Latin, geometry, ancient history, chemistry, algebra and trigonometry.

Fire destroyed the frame building and it was replaced by a red brick building in 1898 when a $7500 bond issue was approved. S. E. Watson was superintendent, and he had just replaced C.J. Debenport who had served from 1894 until 1898. The two-story building had one classroom, an office and an auditorium that could be divided into three rooms on the first floor and four classrooms on the upper floor. Further additions were necessary later. This building was torn down in 1936 and was replaced by the A.L. Day building.

While the names of at least six or seven superintendents can be found before 1900, during the past 84 years only three have served more than a few years. They were A. L. Day, Frank Morgan and Norris Tanton. Since the retirement of Day in 1935, those superintendents who remained for only a short time often made significant contributions to the school system, and usually moved on to larger schools or other jobs.
A frame building, 20 x 30 feet, was erected in 1872 near the corner of Pecan and Ash Streets. It served as the first school in Commerce. It was used until 1884 when a two-story, two-room frame building was bulit on the present site of A.L. Day School on Church Street.
The two-story, red brick building replaced the frame building on Church Street after a fire in 1898. This photo includes later additions. The building originally had four rooms upstairs and an auditorium, office and one classroom on the first floor.