BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 17, 1912
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
Michael Driscoll School, 1911
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ELEVENTH ANNUAL MEETING.
Some Extracts from Muddy River Records of the Town
With Special Reference to the Middle and Heath Schools.
Read before the Society by Michael Driscoll, March 27, 1907.
No mention of any provision for a school in Muddy River hamlet is made in the Boston records until March 8, 1686, when we find the following:
"Muddy River, Motion for a schoole, referd to the Selectmen to consider of & to make theire report of it to the Inhabitants at ye next towne meeting."
"March 29, 1686. - A Motion of the Inhabitants of Muddy river for a writinge school for theire children was read at a publique meetinge of the Inhabitants of this town the 8th of March 168 5/6, and that theire town rates may be improved to that use & the select, apoynted to choose a place for the erectinge of a house."
"In answer to said Motion, It was voted that the selectmen take this matter into consideration and inquire into the reason thereof and represent it to the next General Towne Meeting what is necessary to be done therein."
On December 8, 1686, the following record appears:
"In answer to the petition of ye Inhabitants of Muddie River prayinge to have libertie to erect a school &ca. upon the hearinge thereof, The President & Council doe order, That henceforth the said Hamlet of Muddie River be free from Towne rates to ye Towne of Bostone, they maintaininge theire owne high wayes and poore and other publique charges ariseinge amongst themselves, And that within one yeare next comeinge they raise a school-house in such place as the two next Justices of the Countrie (upon a publique hearinge of the Inhabitants of the said Hamlet) shall determine as also mainetaine an able readinge and writinge Master there, from and after that day, and that the Inhabitants annuallie meete to choose three men to manage theire affaires."
These conditions were readily accepted, for at a full meeting of the inhabitants of Muddy River, 19th of January following, the following vote was passed:
"Voted that for the Annual maintenance of the Schoolmaster above twelve pounds per anum in or as Monye Raised equaly by a Rate according to usual manner of Raising publick charges by the three men. And that the Remainder necessary to support the charges of the Master be laid equally upon the scholars heads save any persons that are poore to be abated in part or in whole ---"
Evidently the good people of Muddy River hamlet thought that they were then independent of Boston, but it is quite clear that Boston was not willing that the hamlet should be separated from it, for on March 16, 16 89/90, it was "Voted, that Muddy River Inhabitants are not discharged from Bostone to be a hamlet by themselves, but stand related to Bostone as they were before the yeare 1686."
The agitation for a separation of Muddy River hamlet from the Town of Boston was continued; in 1700, we find the following record:
"Upon the petition of the Inhabitants of muddiriver To be a District or Hamlet separate from the Town for these reasons following, namely, the remoteness of their situtation wch renders them uncapable of Injoying Equal Benefit & advantage wth other of the Inhabitants of Publick Schools for the Instruction of their Children, Relief of their poor & repairing of their highways."
"Their petition being read & the reasons given therein Debated It was voted in the negative, & that tho they had not for some years been rated in the Town rate yet for the time to come the selectmen should rate them in the Town Tax as the other Inhabitants & as formerly they used to be. And for their Incouragement. It was voted that the Selectmen should provide a schoolmaster for them, To teach their children to read, write & cypher & order his pay out of the Town Treasury."
At last, on the 13th of November, 1705, the prayer of the petitioners was granted, and Muddy River hamlet became a town under the name of Brookline.
The principal school of the town was located on what is now known as Church Green at the intersection of Walnut and Warren streets. Near there was also located the church and in the early records of the town appear from year to year the various sums to be levied upon the inhabitants for the maintenance of the schools and for repairing the schoolhouses.
As early as March 5,1711, it was voted, "That there be Liberty Granted to Erect two School houses at there own Charge that improve them. Also that they maintain a good school dame half of the year at each house. That the Town allow the charge for a Master one qr. at one School house and the other quarter at the other. To teach, to write and Cypher."
This second school house was undoubtedly the small one story building which stood on the lane which is now known as School street.
It would be interesting to compare the early records of the town with those of the past year; for instance, in the year 1711 appears the following record:
"Agreed with Wm. Story to keep School 3 Months He beginning January 7th 17 11/12. Allowing 5: 0: 0 for his Services. Agreed with John Winchester jun'r For his man Ed Ruggles to keep School att the New School House 2 Months. He beginning January 23 Wednesday 17 11/12. Allowing for his Service 4: 0: 0."
In March, 1714, money was raised for keeping school in three parts of the town.
Nine years later it appears to have been necessary to establish districts or precincts, and the following votes were passed at the town meeting held March 4, 1723:
"Voted to have three School Houses in the Town."
"Voted that there Should be trustees to manage the affairs of the Schools in the sd Town"
"Voted that there should be two trustees to each prescint"
"Voted that there shall be three prescints in the sd Town"
"Voted that the north prescint extend so far south as to take in all the land upon watertown road on both sides of the way & to the line to run up the new lane streight over to Roxbury line"
"Voted that the southerly prescint extend so far north as to take in mr. Joseph Goddards land & so run between mr. Woodwards & mr. childs land taking in Sam'll Newells land & from thence streight to troublesome swamp bridge from thence streight to Newtown line."
This southerly precinct took in all the territory bordering on Newton and Clyde streets and part of Warren street.
"Voted the middle parte of the Towne that is not cut of by any prescint line to be a prescint by theirselves."
"Voted that all the people that live in each prescint both their polls & estates shall pay to the school in the prescint where they live."
It is quite clear from the records that there were many different opinions on the question of how many schools should be maintained, and the town exercised its right of changing its mind in this respect from year to year as appears from many records on this particular phase of school management. There has been considerable difference of opinion on this same subject in the present year of our Lord, 180 years after the period of which we are speaking.
On May 2, 1727, it was "Voted whether the Town would build another school in the senter of the Town it passed to the neg"
"Voted the select men with others to be a committy to prepare and lay before the Town at the next mealing what had best to be done about the schools as to the number and places"
"Voted Cap John Winchester Mr Edward White M Henry Winchester Mr. Abraham Woodward to be added to the select men to a committy to bring the schools into some good method"
It was finally decided to have two schools, and a committee was appointed to measure the town and to "steke the places where the school houses were to be set." This committee promptly reported as follows:
"We the said committy that ware appoynted to measure the town find it five mils and twenty eaight Rods from Jeams Gridgsis to John Ellises then we measured back one mile and a quarter and seven rod for the north school house which is some way in the new land beyond Waterton road1
the other school house to be about a rod and a half in the new lane2
between Isaack Childis and Samuel Newels"
No definite or final action was taken on this report, as on the 27th of June of the same year, "the Town Reconsidered the vote that was pased upon may sixteenth about the school houses" and
"Voted the school houses to stand and to put masters and Mistresses in them"
This same question of how many schools to keep was evidently a very important one, and was not settled in any great haste. On April 8, 1728, the following votes were passed:
"Voted Whether thare be three schools in the Town it passed in the negative"
"Voted Whether thare be two schools in the Town it passed in the negative"
"Voted Whether thar be one School in the Town it passed in the Affirmative"
"Voted the Schoolhouse to stand as near the senter as there can a spot of land obtain for it"
"Voted thare be A committy Chose to measure the Town and stake the Schoolhoused Whare it should stand according to the vote of the Town"
"Voted Mr. Edward White Mr. John Winchester Mr. peter Boylston Mr. James Gridgs Mr. Josua Child be a committy With A survair to measure the Town and find the senter as near as may be"
By the 20th of May at least a part of the question was settled for it was then voted:
"Voted to Except of the spot of Land that Mr. Peter Boylston offers to the Town to set the school house upon"
"Voted to give mr. Peter Boylston the price that he asks to that spot of Land to erict a schoolhouse upon which is twenty pounds"
"Voted the select men to procure a deed of the spot chose for the school house to stand upon of Mr. boylston."
"Voted Cap Gardner Mr. Isaac Gardner Samuel White be A committy to build the school house"
"Voted said schoolhouse be twenty four foot in length one and twenty foot in breadth seven foot between Joynts"
"Voted the schoolhouse to be built by the first of October"
"Voted to Rase one hundred ten pounds to defray the charges of the Town for this year forty pounds thereof for the school"
Again we find that our predecessors had difficulties of much the same kind as we ourselves, for on November 25 of this same year those who were dissatisfied with the action of the town on the 20th of May, had succeeded in influencing a sufficient number of voters to change their minds, and at the meeting held on this day, it was voted:
"to Reconcider the Vote that was pased the twentyeth of may last to have but one Schoolhouse in said Town"
"Voted to have two schoolhouses in said Town"
"Voted one to stand in the new lane between Mr. Allins and -and- watertown road beyond the bridge as near the bridge as thare can be A spot of land for it"
"Voted the other to stand half way between Christophers Dier's and the corner of the lane near Thomas Woodwards in the Land of Samuel Whites"
"Voted Edward White Caleb Gardner Robert Sharp be A committy to Erict the north school"
"Voted Abraham Woodward Thomas Stedman and Isaac Child be A committy to Erict the south school"
Something prevented the erection of both these schoolhouses, however, for on the 20th of May, 1729, it was
"Voted the select men to dispose of the timber that was for the new schoolhouse to the best Advantage."
Three years later it appears that the question was again before the town, and on May 22, 1732, it was
"Voted not to build Another Schoolhouse"
"Voted the school houses stand as they now doe"
"Voted there be A master to Keep school four months in said school houses this year"
"Voted there be no Mistres this year"
For the next ten years little appears in the records beyond the appropriations made from year to year, but the question of schoolhouses still agitated the town, and on May 18, 1742, it was
"Voted to Chuse A Commity to finde the most Convenant spot to Erect a schoolhouse for the benifit of the whole Town"
Again in 1745, at the meeting held December 17, was the following:
"sd Town meeting was to know the minds of the Town whether they would build a new School house and for Ingoregment thereof Mr. Joseph White and Mr. Moses White Gave Land for to set sd house upon on the East corner of that peace of there Square of Land that sd Whites purchesed of the Heirs of Nathaniel Gardner Deceased"
"Voted to Except sd Land with thanks to the sd Whites that Gave it to build a new Schoolhouse upon"
"Voted to build a new School house on sd Spot of Land"
This building appears to have been erected, for at a meeting on May 16, 1746, it was
"Voted That the Select Men provide A School Master the Ensuing winter to keep in the new School House from the first of November to the last of March"
This was the building which stood on Warren street, between Heath and Clyde streets, which was afterwards moved to the southerly side of Heath street, and which was again moved in 1854 farther up Heath street to the land of the late Sullivan Warren where it is still standing.
Some citizens must have been very much dissatisfied with the location of the building, just as we find some citizens today who think that better judgment might have been used in locating some of the present schoolhouses. These parties, however, it would seem, had good and valid objections, for at this same town meeting, it was
"Voted to Except the following persons from the Charge of Building the School House vizt. Messrs John Druce Abraham Woodward Daniel Dana James Griggs Will: Davis Isaac Child Joshua Child Timothy Harris John Harris John Harris Jun'r"
"Voted That their be A Rate made on the Rest of the Inhabitants who are not Excepted from Building the School House of fifty pound old Tenuer to Build sd School House"
These persons were residents of the southerly part of the town, and there must have been a sufficient number of pupils in that section of the town to require some provision for schooling as at the March meeting, 1760, it was
"Voted That the Inhabitants of ye South part of ye Town who Shall give their Names in at ye Next May Town Meeting for a School in that part of the Town, Shall be aided & assisted by ye Town In erecting a School house & Excused from Any Tax towards ye Other Schooling of ye Town as long as the said Inhabitants keep up & Maintain Such Schooling"
Some interesting questions were decided at the meeting held in July, 1767, as appears by the following votes:
"Voted Whether a Grammar school Master shall be provided for the Middle School throughout the year & it Past in the Negative"
"Voted Whether said School shall be Kept for Nine Months and it past in the Negative"
"Voted Whether said School shall be kept Sixe Months and it past in the Affermative"
"Voted Whether the Upper School shall be removed to any other -other- Place & it past in ye Affirmative"
"Voted the Question put to what place, and it Past to Remove Said School to the South District"
"Voted Whether the Town will Build a School house for that purpose & it past in ye Negative"
At last the residents in the south part of the town succeeded in convincing their fellow-citizens that they should have a schoolhouse in their neighborhood, and on the 14th of March, 1768, it was
"Voted That the Town will be Aiding and assisting the South District in Building a Schoolhouse"
"Voted That said Schoolhouse be of the same bigness of the Womans School House that is in the Middle District"
This was the beginning of the present Newton Street School, although the building erected at this time was not of the same "bigness" as the schoolhouse in the Middle District, one being 31 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches, while the other was only 25 feet by 16 feet. The principal school in the center of the town by this time needed considerable repair, and the question of removing it from its original site was also receiving attention. In March, 1771, it was
"Voted That the Select Men be a Committee to View the Old School House & to see if it will quit cost to Remove it to some other place or pull it down to Rebuild it again & to look a place or spot to set or Build a School House on and make Report to the Town next may meeting"
And on the report of the Selectmen made at a meeting held June 13 of the same year it was
"Voted That Said Town will be aiding & Assisting the Middle District Lying on Sherbun Rode in Building a School House"
Although the town was doing what seemed a good deal in those days, the schools suffered from over attendance much the same as in later years, and in 1781 the following vote was passed:
"Whereas upwards of Fifty Children belonging to this Town daily attend at School, and a Number of others from the adjacent Town have also been admitted there this season as usual for Several Years past, whereby the whole Number of Scholars is become so great that it cannot be expected the Schoolmaster can teach them all with any Probable prospect of advantge to the Scholars therefore Voted that Mr. Isaac Reed the present Schoolmaster be directed not to permit the Children from any adjacent Town to come to School, while the number of Scholars belonging to this Town continues so large as to require all his attention to their Instruction"
In December, 1790, the town
"Voted to build a School House"
"Voted that sd School House be built near where the late Deacon Joseph White's Dwelling House Stands," and at the same meeting it was
"Voted That the School House above Voted, and the School House lately Built in the lower part of the Town, be Equally paid for by the Town"
A later vote at the same meeting provided that "Major Moses White, mr. Caleb Gardner and mr. Isaac S. Gardner were chosen a committee to provide a Spot, and Build a School House thereon in the upper part of the Town"
In January, 1793, the following votes were passed:
"Voted to accept the Donation of William Hyslop Esquire for the purpose of Building a School House on, or near the spot where the Old School House in the middle of the Town stands"
"Voted, that the Town Sensibly imprest with the (the) great obligations they are under to William Hyslop Esquire, for his generous Donation for the purpose of Building a School House in said Town for the Incouragement and promotion of Learning among the Youth of the Rising Generation, Sincerely Return him their thanks"
"Voted, that Mr. Ebenez'r Davis Mr. John Heath and Isaac S. Gardner Esquire, be a Committee to Wait on William Hyslop Esq'r with a Copy of the above Vote, and thank him for his Generous Intentions"
"Voted, that Mr. Ebenezer Davis be and he is hereby authorized to Receive such Donations from Wm Hyslop Esquire, as he may be pleased to give for the purpose of Building a School House near the middle of the Town, on or near the spot where the Old School House now stands in such form and manner (as) he with the Advice of Wm Hyslop Esq'r may think proper"
"Voted, that the Selectmen for the time being be and they are hereby authorisce to move, or Dispose of the School House in the middle of the Town, as they in their Judgment see fit, till the further order of the Town"
Notwithstanding the many votes passed both to repair and not to repair the old schoolhouse in the middle of the town, it appears that there were still a large number of citizens who wished to keep the schoolhouse on or near that spot, and on March 4, 1793, the following votes were passed:
"Voted to Build a School House on or near the Spot where the Old School House Stands in the middle of the Town"
"Voted to raise the sum of Eighty pounds to Build a School House in the middle of the Town"
"Then Messieurs Ebenz'r Davis, Sam'l Clark, and Abijah Child were chosen a Committee to Build a School House in the middle of the Town"
This was the brick schoolhouse so often mentioned in the records of later years.
A more general use of the school buildings was made in those days than in the present. Town meetings were generally held in this new brick schoolhouse, and in 1805, at the March meeting, it was
"Voted that the brick school House be given up to Mr. Peter Banner carpenter for building the Meeting House for his use during the summer season"
In 1812 and 1813 committees were appointed to confer with Richard Sullivan, Esquire, respecting the removal of the brick schoolhouse and leveling the ground west of the same, and in October of the year 1813, "a committee was appointed with full powers to agree in behalf of the Town with Mr. Sullivan that the triangular piece of land belonging to the Town lying between the roads and bounded easterly by land of said Sullivan shall lay common for publick accomodation and that no building shall be erected thereon hereafter so long as the meeting house shall stand on the place where it is now erected- Reserving the right of continuing the present school House thereon as it now stands as long as the Town shall see fit upon the condition that he pays the sum of Two hundred dollars when the Town shall remove the school house and Purchase of the Town a Pew in the meetinghouse at the original appraisement, he to have his choice of the Pews unsold"
The question of removing the brick schoolhouse and repairing it, as well as the question of erecting a new house, was considered at different times, and a decision was reached in May, 1824, when it was voted:
"That the Brick school house be not repaired," and a week later it was decided to build a two-story building of stone, the basement to be entirely above the ground.
In November "the Selectmen were authorized to dispose of the Brick School house at Auction when they think proper," and accordingly they "appointed on the next Friday at 2 O'Clock P M at which time the building was sold with a few useless Logs &c for about One hundred & forty eight dollars."
This new building was the old Town Hall with a hall for meeting purposes in the upper story, and a schoolroom in the basement story, which it was provided in the vote authorizing its erection, should be entirely above ground.
In 1833, $800.00 was appropriated for the purpose of erecting a schoolhouse "in the North District near the situation of the present building, to be not less than twenty-five by thirty feet, and two stories in height and filled with all necessary seats and finished in a workmanlike manner, Provided that a sufficient sum be raized by subscription to finish the same, should the above sum be insufficient, the present House to be used so far as may be useful." This was the building which stood at the corner of School and Prospect streets.
A report made by a committee for the distribution of funds for the school districts at a meeting held in November, 1834, is somewhat interesting as showing the attendance of pupils at school, and showing the wages paid the teachers; the report is as follows:
"The committee chosen at the May meeting to look into the situation of the Schools in this Town have attended to that service and ask leave to report;
"That they find by the examination of the schools the 25th March 1834 - The School in the South District under the care of Mr. Converse has 13 scholars, present 17 on the list. School in the middle district under care of Moses Burbank 35 were present, 50 on the list. First North District under the care of Leonard Spaulding 41 were present 63 on the list. also one school under the care of Hannah Perry & Lucy Davis 49 were present 53 on the list, whole number 183. - Your committee recommend to the Town to dispense with a Male and employ a Female Teacher in the south district. Forty eight weeks at $2.50 - 120 dollars and they further recommend the Town to Support two schools in the first North district throughout the year, one female teacher 48 weeks @ $2.50 pr week 120. also one other female teacher 32 Weeks @ $2.50 pr week 80$. the school to commence the first of april keep to the first of December, grant to the Second North District 100 dollars a year during the Towns pleasure, that the Forty six dollars saved to the Town by the alteration in the South District should go to pay a female teacher in first North district the ensuing winter."
At the March meeting in 1838 the Trustees of the School Fund resigned their positions "in consideration of their advanced age, all of them having arrived over three score years & ten and some of them nearer four score years." They also took this opportunity to report to the town the present state of the school fund, which amounted to $4,501.74, which was all satisfactorily invested.
In 1839 the town voted, "That a committee consisting of Deacon Elijah Corey, Daniel Sanderson and Thomas Tilden do examine the state of the Middle and South School Houses and report at the next Town Meeting the probable expense of repairing the same."
At an adjournment of this meeting, the committee appointed begged leave to report: "That after several meetings and deliberating together, we have finally agreed to recommend as follows; that the Putterham School House (so called) have the back and end carried back eight feet and that the sides and roof be made to correspond with the others and all new seats such as we have seen at Dorchester. Expense estimated by Mr. Elijah Stone $125.00."
The committee again reported that:
"Upon examination of the old deed given to the town, 1777, by Joseph Smith of Roxbury, your committee ascertained that all the land belonging to the Town for the purpose of a school house in that place was twenty by thirty feet consequently the house could not be lengthened out in the rear a single foot until we had purchased more land. The house was situated so near the line of two owners that we were obliged to contract with both in order to accomplish our object. There being a small piece of land on the easterly side of the schoolhouse belonging to the town in the form of a wedge, an exchange was made with Mr. Joseph Curtis of Roxbury for eight or ten feet giving him as much in front as was taken in the rear; also purchased of Mr. Samuel Hills fifteen hundred feet of land so that the house may have land sufficient to erect a new school house or out-buildings hereafter if necessary."
At this same meeting, in 1839, it was also voted, "That a Committee of three men be appointed, with authority to repair the middle district school house where it now stands, or to remove the same, or build a new one at their discretion on such a lot as Thomas H. Perkins and others will provide to the satisfaction of the Committee in exchange for the old lot, provided said Perkins and others will pay the Town six hundred (600) dollars for exchanging lots, and that Daniel Sanderson Thomas Tilden and Samuel Philbrick be that Committee.
At the town meeting held March 16, 1840: "The Committee appointed under the preceding vote, now ask leave to report; That after repeated conferences and corresponding with the parties interested in having the old school removed, causing a delay of several months, an exchange of lots was finally effected on the conditions above named, and a title for the new lot was obtained for the Town from Benjamin White and Warren White and delivered to the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen to be placed on the county records."
"After repeated but unsuccessful efforts to effect a sale of the old school house your Committee caused it to be offered at public auction, but no one offering anything like its value to the Town in the estimation of your Committee it was bid off for the Town, removed and thoroughly repaired with the best of material and workmanship. In doing this your Committee was governed by a strict regard to the interest of the Town, and if the amount expended in the repairs should be considered sufficient for the erection of an entire new building, your Committee have satisfaction in believing the old frame superior for strength and durability to any new one that could now be procured, and the building as now repaired is more valuable to the Town than any Building of the same accomodations could have been made of materials entirely new at the same expense"
Then follows an itemized account of the cost of repairs: "making a total expenditure of $859.07 which has been received as follows:
"By cash received for exchange of lots $600.00
"By ditto received from orders on Town Treasury 259.07
The lot secured from the Messrs. White by this exchange was on the southerly side of Heath street, directly across from where the new building was afterwards erected. The building as altered and repaired was a small affair measuring 28 feet by 22 feet, with an ell 13 feet square. It was occupied for school purposes until the erection of the new building in 1853, when it was sold and moved to land owned by the late J. Sullivan Warren farther up Heath street on the same side, where it still stands. There were then at this time three district schools, namely, the South-Western, taught through the year by Miss Augusta Draper; the Southern, by Miss Emily Reed; and the Northern, by Miss Catherine Stearns, a teacher of large experience and rare qualifications.
The South-Western School mentioned here is still occupied for school purposes, and is known as the Newton Street School. The Southern School House mentioned is the one which preceded the recently demolished Heath School House, of which we have just been speaking, while the Northern was a little building with two rooms which was situated on School street, just east of where Prospect street now is, and was the building which I attended as a primary school pupil.
About this time the town began to grow quite rapidly; the lack of school accommodations was very noticeable and was the subject of much discussion by the School Committee in their annual reports.
At the North School House on School street, the number of pupils had outgrown the accommodations of the building, and many of the pupils were too old to attend the primary school with the smaller children, and were not sufficiently advanced to attend the high school.
To meet the needs of this district an intermediate school had been opened in two rooms in the lower part of the new Town Hall. It had become necessary also to open a third room for the accommodation of many who were too old to attend the primary school, and who were not sufficiently advanced in their studies to attend the intermediate school.
I may say in passing that this was the beginning of what afterwards became the Pearl Place School, later the Ward School, and is today known as the Lincoln School, with the Sewall, Parsons, Winthrop and Boylston as feeders.
This school was first accommodated in a very small room in the Town Hall. It was afterwards moved to what was known as Washington Hall, which was over the grocery store kept by Mr. Seamans on the site where his present building stands. Later it was moved to the second story of a carriage shop on Brookline avenue, near the corner of Washington street, and in 1854 it was moved to the new building on Brookline avenue, at the corner of Pearl place.
That some of the school buildings of the town were in poor condition is very evident from the School Committee's report of the school in the middle district which they say "in its present condition is quite unworthy of the Town, dingy, dirty, ill-placed, ill-constructed, and ill-kept, not a fit place for the training of youthful minds in sound learning, good morals, and good manners." This was the same building which was repaired so thoroughly in 1840.
The great deficiency of accommodations for the pupils in the different schools was urged by the Committee. In accordance with their suggestion the town investigated the matter and reported as follows: "The present condition of the schoolhouses in Brookline is, then, briefly as follows;
"The south-west primary school, on Newton Street, which is decent, and of sufficient capacity. The south or middle primary school, on Heath St. which is, in every respect insufficient, and disgraceful to the Town. The High School, on Walnut Street, but indifferently accomodated in rooms of insufficient size for the present number of pupils. The north primary school, in the building on School Street, containing for the accomodation of more than one hundred pupils, two rooms without ventilation; and not intended, or suitable, for more than forty pupils. The grammar school but poorly accomodated in two rooms of the Town Hall, with its forty pupils."
At the adjourned annual meeting of March 24, 1851, a committee was appointed to take into consideration that part of the report of the School Committee which pertains to the subject of schoolhouses, and to make report thereon at their earliest convenience.
This committee reported at considerable length at the special meeting held October 15, 1851. The report goes very fully
into the whole subject of schoolhouses, but I will read only that part of the report which refers more particularly to the middle district.
The committee say that "after consultation with the School Committee, and after consideration of the whole subject, we have been led to the conclusion that the cause of good education in the Town demands the erection of two new school houses.
"We think one of these should be of wood, with two main rooms, one fitted for an intermediate school, and one for a primary school. It should be located somewhere near the corner of Warren and Clyde Streets, and have not less than half an acre of land attached for playgrounds."
The report then goes on to speak of the other schoolhouses and of the intermediate school, which was then in the lower story of the Town Hall, and returns to the subject of the school in the middle district, as it was then called, as follows:
"Hitherto, however, owing to the great distance from the west and south parts of the Town, the children living there who ought to attend the intermediate schools have not been obliged to attend them, but the School Committee have been forced to allow such children to attend the primary schools in their respective districts.
"The consequences have been twofold; First, Such children have not enjoyed the advantages of education as those whose parents live near enough to the Town Hall to enable their children to attend the schools here. Second, the scholars properly belonging to the primary school in the south and middle districts have been impeded by being associated with children far beyond them, to whom the teachers have unavoidably been obliged to devote a large share of their attention. In other words, the present position of the schools is very partial and unequal. The south and west portions of the town have never reaped their fair share of the advantages of the intermediate school, though they have paid their share of the expense. They have never been able to educate their children at those schools nor have their primary schools reaped the same benefits from their establishment that the north primary school has done. To remedy this injustice, and to provide a larger and better room for the primary school in the middle district, which is very much needed, we propose the erection of a school house near the corner of Warren and Clyde Streets, and the sale of the school house and lot on Heath Street.
"We propose that all children of suitable age and acquirements, whose parents live west of Mr. Knapp's church, or on Boylston Street, or any of the cross-streets west of Cypress Street, should be obliged to attend this intermediate school.
The Committee closed its report by recommending that "a Committee of five be appointed to select sites for the school houses above mentioned, to find the best terms on which such lots of land can be obtained, and upon what terms the school house and lot on Heath Street can be sold, and that the same Committee, cause plans of the new buildings to be made and estimates to be prepared of the cost of their erection, and report all the facts to the town at the next annual meeting, for further action."
The report was accepted, and a committee was appointed in accordance with the recommendation of the report.
The Committee reported at the annual meeting held March 8, 1852, that they could not obtain any suitable sites for the schoolhouses at the points named, and that being unable to find a new site in this section of the town, they have made no attempt to obtain terms for the sale of the present house and lot.
The committee reported, however, in favor of erecting a building on the town land for the northern district near Harvard and School streets. Nothing was done towards providing a new school for the Heath district.
The matter was not allowed to rest, however; the School Committee constantly referred to the need of better accommodations, and at the adjourned annual meeting held April 4, 1853, it was voted, "That a committee of nine persons be chosen, to take into consideration the whole subject of new school houses and their location, and report as soon as practicable at a town meeting to be specially called for the purpose with such recommendations as they may deem proper, and that the Building Committee appointed last year be directed, in the meantime, to take no further action."
This committee acted vigorously and reported at a special meeting held September 22, 1853. The report was accepted, and among other votes were the following:
"Voted, That for the purpose of enlarging the present school house lot in the south or middle district, agreeably to the recommendation of the Committee on school houses and their location, the selectmen be directed and authorized to purchase as much additional land from the adjoining estate of Mr. Warren White as will make the lot, when thus enlarged, equal to half an acre in extent, and in case the owner thereof shall refuse to sell the same, or demand therefor a price, which in the opinion of the Selectmen is unreasonable, that they be authorized to select and lay out as much additional land from said adjoining estate as is allowed by the Statute to be taken for the purpose aforesaid and also to take all such further proceedings as required by law, provided, however, that the Selectmen and School Committee shall have the power to change said location to such suitable lot of land as said White may cause to be conveyed to the Town for this purpose in manner and on terms satisfactory to them within thirty days from this date."
Just as the necessary steps for taking the land by right of eminent domain were inaugurated, but before the land was actually taken, the committee reported at a special meeting, held December 26, 1853, "That Mr. White within the time specified, offered your committee a lot of land on Brighton Street (this is now Chestnut Hill avenue) but owing to the location and unsuitableness of the land, they deemed it inexpedient to purchase it. Since then a proposition has been received from Mr. Stephen Bass, offering to sell the town a lot of land in the immediate vicinity of the present school house on conditions and terms as follows; viz. 'That he will sell the town a lot of land on the opposite side of the street containing one acre, the price to be two thousand dollars and to take the lot the present school house now stands upon at the same price; the school house to be built upon the back part of the lot, which will be about twenty rods from the road, and a tight fence 8 ft. high made and maintained.' "
The committee did not deem it expedient to purchase under those restrictions, but they recommended the town to purchase the lot offered by Mr. Bass, and sell the land the present schoolhouse now stands on, "provided he will allow the new school house to be built within ten rods of the road, and enclosed with a suitable fence."
The report was recommitted to the same committee, and they were instructed to purchase the lot "on the best terms they can."
The town at this time was negotiating through its Selectmen for the selecting and laying out of two lots to erect new schoolhouses on, one on Pleasant street, at the corner of Beacon street, and the other in the vicinity of Pearl place, besides the grammar and primary building to take the place of the old building in the north district. This new building was a four room brick building situated on Prospect street, which was dedicated in May, 1855, and has served as a primary and grammar school until the present time. It has recently been enlarged by the addition of eight rooms, making it now a twelve room primary school for the Pierce district.
Necessary appropriations were made for the other new buildings, and in November, 1854, the new schoolhouse on Heath street was opened, and the primary school was then removed from its most shabby and uncomfortable quarters to the new building.
It was then found necessary to establish a grammar school in the same building, and it was accordingly opened in charge of Mr. Henry Willey.
With the advent of the school into its new building, matters seem to have improved, but the School Committee complain very much of the irregularity of attendance. They speak well of the thorough teaching which the school enjoys, and exhort the parents to exert themselves to have their children attend more regularly.
In the report for the year 1864, the committee say that the Heath Grammar School is still taught, without assistance, by Mr. Thomas E. Lanman and go on to say:
"The school has been gradually rising in the estimation of the Committee for a series of years. The last examination reflected great credit on the teachers and scholars. The average of attendance has been brought up finely, being for the last term ninety-five per cent."
The building was enlarged in 1871 by the addition of two rooms, and again, in 1890, it was further enlarged by the addition of two more rooms, making it a six room building.
In 1873 the town was considering the subject of providing additional school accommodations, and as some difficulty was experienced in securing proper sites for schoolhouses, it was Resolved, "That in the judgment of the Town, it would be wise for the School Committee to consider the expediency of securing land for school purposes in the south and west portions of the town without further delay, or in such other places, whether north or east, as they find the need of new school houses may soon come."
At the special meeting held October 28 of that same year, 1873, the third article was to see if the town will establish a school on Heath street, near Hammond street, and to buy a lot and build on the same.
Under this article it was voted, "That the matter be referred to the Selectmen, and that they be authorized to purchase a lot of land and buildings on Heath Street, near Hammond Street, in the upper part of Brookline, and to establish a school therein for the young children of the locality, and that the sum of six thousand dollars ($6000.00) be appropriated to purchase the land and buildings and fit up the Buildings."
Under this vote the land and buildings on Heath street at the corner of Oak street were bought, but nothing was done towards opening a school, and the buildings, consisting of a moderate sized dwelling house and a small stable, were soon after destroyed by fire. A fire-engine house has since been erected on this lot.
A few years afterwards, and at various intervals since then, the School Committee caused a census of this district to be taken, and while in these latter years they found the whole number of pupils large enough to warrant the erection of a schoolhouse, the children were of such different ages, and were scattered through so many grades, it was deemed best not to build a schoolhouse, the Committee believing that better results could be obtained in a larger building where the numbers were sufficient to warrant a separate room for each grade.
It was doubtless with this idea in mind that in 1874, and again in 1880, the subject of discontinuing the little Newton
Street School was considered in town meeting, and each time the matter was indefinitely postponed.
The introduction of the Kindergarten and Manual Training into the school system, and the desire of the School Committee to extend the advantages of both these branches of instruction to the pupils of the Heath School, led to the erection of the Manual Training Shop in 1898, followed by an addition two years later which doubled its former capacity.
History repeats itself; in the course of years, new buildings with ample accommodations, furnished with everything conducive to the comfort of the pupils and teachers, had been erected in the different parts of the town, but the Heath district failed to share in these advantages.
The School Committee in 1900 reported to the town that the old building was unworthy of the town of Brookline, and was lacking in the chief essentials of a modern schoolhouse.
After enumerating many of the disadvantages of the building, the committee said, in their judgment, the need of a new schoolhouse in this district was imperative.
Petitions had been received from the residents of the district asking for better accommodations, and a committee representing the parents and citizens had appeared before the School Committee urging the same.
At the town meeting held January 19, 1902, the sum of forty thousand dollars ($40,000.00) was appropriated for the purchase of the Reed lot at the corner of Boylston street and Reservoir lane, on which the new building stands, and the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) was placed at the disposal of the Park Commissioners for grading and otherwise improving the lot.
The School Committee was authorized to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) for the erection of a new building.
Messrs. Peabody and Stearns were employed as the architects, and on November 23 of that year, bids for the proposed building were publicly opened and read.
It was found that the building as designed could not be erected for the sum appropriated, and the facts were reported to the town at the special meeting held December 20. On the recommendation of the School Committee the appropriation was increased to one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars ($125,000.00).
The new building is a fine example of modern school architecture, and contains, besides the necessary class rooms and recitation rooms, a fine hall named in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Cabot, besides the principal's and teachers' rooms. In the basement is one of the best appointed gymnasiums in any schoolhouse in the town, with lockers and a good system of shower baths. The building when viewed from Boylston street shows somewhat at a disadvantage by reason of the grade of the lot, but the future development of this particular section of the town contemplates building a street through the valley in front of the building, and when this is done the appearance of the whole place will be very much improved.