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Ticonderoga Schools’ History – Part Two

This school history was written by George F. Burroughs, (1902-1978) long time school teacher and principal with the Ticonderoga School system.  It was written as a feature article for Town of Ticonderoga’s Two Hundredth Anniversary in 1964.

“The Union Free School District was organized in 1871 and continued until the present Central District was established in 1954.  School houses were located at the Upper Falls, Weedsville, Addison Junction Branch and the Central Building, or the old Academy.  Each of these schools had an elementary department of grades 1- 8.  The secondary branch for all of them was in the Central Branch.

In 1887 the Board of Education requested that the school be placed under visitation of the Board of Regents and that examinations be held in February 1888.

The Ticonderoga Sentinel of August 27, 1891 reported 547 pupils in attendance.

Arithmentic Textbook c 1845 ~~  A substantial portion of book uses British measurers

The old wooden buildings were becoming inadequate.  There was agitation for their replacement by many public-spirted citizens.  This need was furthered by the compulsory Education Law of 1896.  The Ticonderoga Sentinel of September 17th of that year stated that at the opening of school the total attending was 734 but that nearly 1000 should be in school.  “This being so it is very evident….that there will be insufficient accommodations if the compulsory Education Law is strictly enforce. “

The Board of Education Minutes of October 21, 1895 reads that “a teacher be employed at $7.00 per week and only by the week to teach at Addison.”  The March 2, 1896 minutes report that “Miss Wright be paid $7.00 per week for teaching school in the Ives Block.”  classes had also been held in the (Ives) Opera House.”

The present Alexandria School was built in 1896 and the Weedville School was dedicated on October 24, 1901.

The total fuel bill for the schools in the year 1896-97 was $540.70.  The total insurance was $102.50.

Even at that time parents had opinions as to which school they wished their children to attend.  At the September 20, 1897 Board of Education meeting it was voted, “That families living west of the watering trough at the top of Cossey Hill or west of the line running south from said trough be allowed to send children to the Central Building.

Interest in the quality and training of its teachers is not new in Ticonderoga.  The Board of Education on January 17, 1898 resolved – “That no teacher not now in the employ of this District shall hereafter be hired except normal graduates and the present teachers not now holding lst grade certificates or Normal Diplomas must obtain such certificates or Diplomas prior to September lst, 1899, if to be retained in the employ of this District.

Geography Text Book – 1865

A Special Board meeting on September 11, 1899, at another special meeting, the Building Committee was instructed to arrange for sinks and water closets at the Central Building.

In 1905 negotiations were started to close the Addision Junction School and to transport the pupils to Ticonderoga.

In February 1906 a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary was purchased for Weedville School.

After the voters approved the Board of Education called for bids for a New High School Building to be submitted by April 18th, 1906  On May 12, 1906 the old Central Building (Academy) was sold in three parts, at a public auction.  The total sale of the parts came to $175. and on the same date proposals for sale of bonds for a total of $45,000 for construction of new building were posted.  This as later changed to $53,000.  A special School Meeting on July 31,1906 approved this measure 110 to 14.  The Pad Factory (1964 it was Christmas Club Building, today it is an apartment building.) was equipped for the holding of classes during the time of construction.

Central School c 1906

Apparently the upper grades from Alexandria and Weedville Schools were sent to the new Central School building after its completion.  It too, had the early elementary grades.  Soon the pupils of the Addison Junction School were transported to the village.  The Montcalm pupils had been coming for some tine, although those south of the Railroad Station (the old depot across from today’s Fort View Restaurant) seem to have been a part of a Putnam District as they are today (1964).

The areas outside the village such as Streetroad, the Lake Road, Tuffertown (South Tie), Chilson and others maintained their individual districts until they were centralized under Ticonderoga Central District No. 1.  The village schools were known as Ticonderoga Union Free School District No. 5.  Later district No. 5 became a superintendancy during the time that Mr. Raymond B. Burdick was chief administrator.

English Grammar Text Book – 1828

Board of Education minutes have numerous resolutions regarding tuition and threats of exclusion for non-payment of tuition for those from the outside districts attending the High School in Ticonderoga.  One interesting resolution allowed the children of a “poor widow” to attend without tuition.

The middle of the third floor of the Central School was used as a gymnasium. There was no auditorium.  Graduation exercises and school dramatics were conducted in the “Opera House” and later in the Movie Theatre.

Raymond Nash – c 1927

Mr. Raymond W. Nash succeeded Mr. Burdick as Superintendent of Schools in 1925.  The schools were overcrowded and there was a need for additional facilities.  In 1926 the gymnasium was condemned for basketball (Central School).  Previous to that time there was much discussion for the need of a New High School.

Land adjacent to the athletic field, (off Holcomb Ave.) which was already owned by the district, was acquired and the new building was occupied in January, 1930.  (present day location of the High School is located on Calkins Place.)

New High School – fire 9 March 1933

A sever fire in March, 1933 damaged much of the interior of the building.  The High School and Junior High School returned to the Central School. Some grades ran on half-day schedules an some of the churches’ facilities were used to accommodate the elementary pupils until the restored building was ready for occupancy in April, 1934.

Many of the residents of the Ticonderoga Central District No. 1 realized the advantages available to the pupils in District No. 5.  Among these advantages were teachers trained in Art, Music, Physical Education, Homemaking and Industrial Arts.  There were also certain financial inducements offered by the New York State to encourage further centralization into larger districts.

Collot’s ~ Progressive French ~~ School Series  – 1845

For a few years sporadic preliminary meetings were held between the Board of Education of the two districts and between individuals and groups.  Mr. Nash retired in 1953 and was succeeded by Dr. Robert Towne Robinson.  In July, 1954 district No. 5 was annexed to District No. 1 and a month later District No. 1 became an independent Superintendancy in its present form.

Streetroad School – c 1951

The present school building at Streetroad was the only building of those of former District No. 1 which was retained for classes and that for the younger children.  The teachers and pupils of the two former district adjusted to the centralization very quickly and easily and have demonstrated that transition when for the betterment of all, inflicts no hardship.

Childrens’ Reader ~ Janet Ray or The Mountain Storm ~ 1856

Alexandria, Weedsville and Central Schools were models in their day.  The present High School Building still has many years of useful serviced after 34 years of wear.  The pupil growth has been gradual over the years.  But, innovations in the curriculum and teaching methods now show that need for planning for the future.  Three Science Laboratories used exclusively for the Junior-Senior High School are crowded.  Science in the elementary grades is taught in the individual classrooms.  The dependence of present day teaching shows the need for an elementary library.  The Junior-Senior High School Library is overcrowded.  Only one room is available for a language laboratory.  This limits the offering of modern foreign languages.  The courses in business, industrial arts, homemaking and art could be expanded if more space were available.  A wise and far-sighted Board of Education  submitted at the Annual Meeting of July, 1957 approved the purchase of the present property on Alexandria Avenue.  On this site there is amply space for future building of elementary and, when the time arrives, High School facilites to serve two or three or possibly four generations of the youth of the area.

Babbittonian’s Penmanship – c 1872

Additional space for music, art, industrial arts and cafeteria services were made possible by the addition of the present Gymnasium in 1958.  It also enables two Physical Education classes to be held at the same times and provides simultaneous extra-curricular activities for both boys and girls.

High School Building Cafeteria,  previously Gym  c 1960

Names have been purposely omitted from this account.  Owen, Lester, Woodruff and many others stand out.  So do the many Board of Education members and teachers.  It seems more appropriate to here pay tribute to the many men who have given unstintedly of their time and efforts, without pay, to provide leadership in education by serving on the Board of Education.  Hundreds of teachers have done far more than their contract salary could every pay for in stimulating and training the youth.  The greatest tribute of all should be given the generations of citizens of the community, who, when the needs came, arose to their duty and made the schools of Ticonderoga what they were in the past and what they are today.”

This ends Mr. Burrough’s “History of Ticonderoga Schools.”  It is only a “snapshot” of school history and, as noted, ended in 1964.  There is so much more to this story and hopefully this story will be continued to bring it up-to-date.  If there is any volunteer, or group of volunteers, that would like to work on this project we here at the Ticonderoga Historical Society is willing to assist.  Related historical information, artifacts, photographs, documents, manuscripts, ephemeral material, etc donations is welcome and will be archived so we many preserve this valuable community history for future generations.

In memory of George F. Burroughs

 Note:   This is re-edited version of a previously published article written in April, 2014.  Photographs and textbook samples are from Ticonderoga Historical Society’s collections. 

3/25/20 wgd

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