Point in History: August 1938
By Lucas Jagodzinski
It’s a familiar feeling for any youth, as the summer turns into its final weeks.
That sinking feeling that all the days of fun in the sun and seemingly never-ending free time have come to an end; to be replaced by a variable mixed bag of emotions that comes with the new school year.
In the fall of 1938, a fresh twist was to be put on this familiar cycle of feelings. High school students would have a new school to return to, thanks to two years of hard work from construction crews largely made up of workers employed by president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.
By this time, the new deal programs could largely be viewed as a success; as the country was finally showing signs of limping out of its giant financial deficit. P.J. Jacobs High School, as it came to be known, would prove to be a worthy successor to the towns deteriorating Emerson High School.
P.J. Jacobs, the son of inn keepers, was born in Stevens Point March 25, 1863. Jacobs would go on to graduate from Notre Dame and returned to Point in 1886, to become an accountant for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. In 1892, he joined with his uncle in opening Gross and Jacobs Hardware.
Jacobs left a mark on Stevens Point as a hardware store owner, but it wasn’t until Feb. 3, 1909 when he began his most influential pursuit. It was on that day that Mr. Jacobs was made the director of Hardware Dealers Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Jacobs would build this company into a dynamo in the insurance world — if you’re not familiar with their old name, you probably know them as Sentry Insurance.
Jacobs would die April 17, 1936, in the early hours of the morning, peacefully in his sleep. He is buried in St. Stephen’s Cemetery.
In June 1938, Stevens Point officially named its newest school after Jacobs, and opened its door in time for the new school year.