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  • Sue Tryforos, Borough Historian

Glen Rock's School #1, 1900-1939

For this year's Quasquicentennial Celebration, The Rock Recorder Blog will post a chronological (as much as possible) history of Glen Rock, NJ. My main source for framing this series is an unpublished manuscript in the Glen Rock Historical & Preservation Society's archive, which was written by George Hubschmitt. This is Part #8 of the series.

As mentioned in an earlier Rock Recorder Blog Post, it was very apparent by the end of the 1890s that the one-room School #44 was no longer adequate for the educational needs of Glen Rock's children. School #44 was overcrowded and more room was needed. The Glen Rock Board of Education considered various sites for a new school building, one being the School #44 property itself at the intersection of Rock Road and Ackerman Avenue. Other sites under consideration were: Isaac A. Hopper's property on Edwards Lane (Hamilton Avenue between Rock Road and Harristown Road); Joseph W. Edwards' land on Rock Road, east of the Community Church; Margaret O'Neill's land on Eagan's Lane (Hamilton Avenue west of Maple Avenue); John H. Robinson's tract on Paterson Road (Maple Avenue) and the J. Wilson Estate land, next to Robinson's property. All of these potential sites were one acre tracts. The purchase prices varied, from Edwards' quote of $400 to Hopper's request for $1,000. When John Robinson learned that Hopper would sell for $1,000, he offered to sell his Paterson Road property to the Board for $600. The Robinson site won by a vote of 55 to 54 over the Hopper site. The Robinson property would become the setting for the wooden School #1, now the parking lot at Central School.

The Board of Education engaged J. Oscar Bunce as architect for the new school. Bids ran too high and Mr. Bunce redrew the plans for new bids. Contracts were awarded to George W. Courter, carpenter, for $2,425; Welcome A. DeVoe, mason, for $828; Cyrus L. Edwards, painter, $159. DeVoe's work did not meet the approval of the Board and James S. Van Ness was engaged to complete the masonry work. Edwards' bondsman had to complete the painting work. Bunce's architect's fee was $125.

The new school building had two class rooms with two coat rooms each on the first floor and a small finished room for Board meetings on the second floor above the girls' entrance. When facing the school from Maple Avenue, the boys' entrance was on the left and the girls' entrance was on the right. A double sliding door divided the first floor into two classrooms. When the doors were opened up, a large assembly room was created and used each morning for calisthenics; the large room was also a place for evening entertainments for the community at large. At night, lighting was by means of a large hanging oil lamp in each class room and side wall bracket lamps in the halls and stairways. There were no outside lights.

The girls' basement playroom, used in bad weather, was under the front class room and the boys' playroom was at the rear of the basement, which also housed the huge hot-air furnace and the coal bin.

A hand pump on a drilled well outside behind the building supplied good potable water. Sanitary facilities were two wooden privvies, also located outside behind the building. A tower stood atop the school's roof to contain a large school bell that summoned everyone to class, morning, noon and recess times. This bell was presented to Central School when School #1 was demolished in 1939.

School #1, soon after opening in 1900, showing the girls' entrance on the right.

Playing was not permitted on the front lawn or at the side of the building on the boys' side. The girls were allowed to play on their side of the building and on a strip of land, about 50 feet wide, in the rear yard. The boys' playground, where peggy, baseball and football were the major games, was across the rear of the lot about 60 feet wide and 150 feet long. The two playgrounds were separated by a small low stone wall that was raked up and rebuilt each Arbor Day.

The first classes were held in School #1 on March 8, 1900. Mr. Carter taught 5th through 8th grades while Miss Christopher handled 1st through 4th grades. Only the first floor rooms were used for instruction until 1903, when the Board of Education again went out for bids to finish the upper two rooms. An additional teacher, Miss Stella Marsden, was hired in December of 1903. In 1910, another construction project added four more rooms plus indoor bathrooms to the School. The brick Central School was erected in 1925 and for a little over a decade the two school buildings stood side-by-side: School #1 as the grammar school and Central School as the Junior High School. Once the Junior High School went up on Harristown Road in 1938, it was decided to raze the wooden School #1.

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