During the 1870 and 1880s, overflow from the regular schools spilled into buildings such as the basement of the Tabernacle (three rooms), the upper floor in the old courthouse, the Gardener's Club, the building on First North built by J. W. Nixon for his tin shop, and others. By the 1890s, it became clear that something had to be done to expand the schools.
In 1888, the St. George Stake established an academy that met in the basement of the Tabernacle. Plans were made for building a proper school building in the northwest corner of the Tabernacle block and a quantity of volcanic stone was actually quarried for the foundation. The building campaign stalled in 1890, however, and in 1893 the academy closed.
The provision of free public schools supported by a county tax, passed by the state legislature in 1890, had led both teachers and cash-starved parents to desert the Stake Academy. But the broader financial base afforded by the possibility of a mill levy opened new possibilities for a public school. In April of 1897, meetings were held to decide what to do. It was decided that a new central school building would be constructed on the northwest corner of the public square. In 1898, the citizens approved a twenty mill levy (2% tax, the maximum allowed by law) to finance a brick school building. Stone was ultimately chosen for its permanence, however, and obtained from the same quarry that had supplied the building of the Tabernacle. The volcanic stone cut for the unbuilt Academy was used for the foundation.
The city granted the site and construction began in 1898. By the end of the year, $7,000 had been spent putting in the foundation. They found the ground had to be tamped and filled with small lava rock to provide a suitable foundation for such a large building. The foundation was built with the black volcanic rock that had been cut some years before, when plans were laid for the construction of of a stake academy. Each year, a new tax was levied and the work slowly went forward.
The Woodward School was finished and opened its doors in September of 1901. It was named after George Woodward, a childless resident, who had served as chairman of the school board during the construction. He also donated a substantial sum of money ($3,000) for the hardware and glass. Then he bought the heating plant and the school's first piano.
The school was a real change from the previous schools. There was a lot more space, the classrooms had blackboards on three walls, they had radiator heat rather than pot-bellied stoves that were either too hot or too cold, and there were real notebooks rather than heavy breakable slates.
All the students from the First Ward, Second Ward, Third Ward, and Fourth Ward schools were brought together into this new school.
Elementary grades 1-8 and high school grades 9-10 were taught here.
In 1911, grades 9-10 were moved over to the Dixie Stake Academy and the Woodward School continued to serve elementary students, grades 1-8.
In 1936, the elementary grades (up through sixth grade) were moved over to the new St. George Elementary School. Seventh and eighth grades remained at the Woodward and were joined by the ninth and tenth grades from the Dixie Academy Building to become the Woodward Junior High School.
Woodward School was remodeled in 1957. The architect was L. Robert Gardner of Gardner Partnership Architects (Project Number 57-005).
The Woodward School continued to serve junior high grades 7-9, but grade 10 was moved over to the Dixie High School.
In 1977, the junior high students were moved down to the new Dixie Junior High School. The Woodward School was used for the overflow from West Elementary School.
The Woodward School Building was put on the National Register of Historic Places (#1980003989) on November 23, 1980.
The Woodward School became the first 6th grade center, peaking with a population of 1,000 students. The Woodward School building was also used for school district offices.
Formal education in the Woodward Building ceased. After the new Washington County School District building was finished, the Woodward School building was remodeled to become the District's media and technology center. It also included a small museum.