Butterfield Trail Elementary School, located in the northeast section of Fayetteville, was the first open space (school with no walls) elementary school built in the state of Arkansas. Butterfield opened for the 1968-69 school year. Dr. Wayne White was Superintendent of schools and Mr. Dean May was Principal.
Butterfield Trail Elementary was named after the stagecoach trail that connected Fayetteville with Fort Smith. The first Butterfield Stage arrived in Fayetteville at 11:00 a.m. on September 18, 1858, and departed for Fort Smith and points west at 11:50 a.m. 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 2:00 a.m. 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.
During the first school year, the school enrolled approximately 300 students. The staff in1968 included 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, but the plans were revamped for open space instruction by architect Warren Seagrave of Fayetteville. The building was divided into "areas" or "pods" according to grade level. The library media center was the open concept as well, and was located in an area that became the center of the school after several additions for classrooms were completed. For several years, meals served in the cafeteria were prepared at other schools in the district and transported to Butterfield for serving. Years later, renovations to the school included a full service kitchen. In the spring of 2008, new construction and renovation began transforming the Butterfield building into a beautiful, more modern building almost twice the size of the original building, and incorporating lots of natural light, three courtyards, an air conditioned hard wood floor gymnasium, and traditional (with walls) classrooms. School continued as usual during the “under construction” school year (2008-2009) and in August of 2009, students returned to school in a beautiful new facility that was dedicated on September 13, 2009. Vicki Thomas was Superintendent, JohnL Colbert was Associate Superintendent and Mrs. Joey Folsom was Principal.