Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School Days

Schools Days are upon us – when those hazy, lazy, hot and often humid late August days roar toward Labor Day and of course, our children returning to school.

We all know our 4 current schools – Memorial, Center, the Junior and Senior Highs. But in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, the Town was divided into 11 schools districts situated throughout the various sections of our community. It was a time when high school students went to private schools or years later took the train to Middletown with the construction of the Airline, until 1939, when our first high school opened as an addition to what is now the Center School.

All schools were within walking distance of a child’s home. of course, many comedians and I’m sure a few parents have told their children how they walked 10 miles to school everyday, uphill both ways, always in a blizzard! I did walk to school and I don’t believe it was more than a mile and those that walked farther did so because they could get home faster than waiting for a late bus.

In those earlier days of Chatham, the Chestnut Hill School House was located on Old Chestnut Hill Road. This had decayed into a state of total disrepair until the Chatham Historical Society undertook a project to dismantle and then rebuild it as their home and museum on Bevin Boulevard in the mid 1980s.

The Tartia School house still exists as a private residence as does the Clark Hill School located adjacent to the mobile home park.

The White Birch School on Brewer Road and Union Hill School at the end of Hog Hill were destroyed by fire.

The Northwest District School is the current rectory for Christ Episcopal Church in Middle Haddam. A new Middle Haddam Elementary School constructed on Schoolhouse Road replaced it and served the Town until the late 1970s. The North Center, Pine School and Flanders School were all sold prior to 1920.

Our current Board of Education Building located in the Village Center also served as our Town Hall from 1915 until 1974 when the current Town Hall on East High Street was purchased from the CL & P and renovated.
This Center School, which moved from Skinner Street, opened in 1866 housing 2 grades of high school as well as 8 grades of grammar school. A new Center Grammar school opened in 1914 at which time the Town voted to transport students from the outlying districts and close or sell many of the district school buildings.

1 comment:

  1. Dean...a job well done...I enjoyed reading about the schools of East Hampton...and Middle Haddam. Please...continue sharing your knowledge.