The Original Plan for the New School
Posted here 11/1/15

The Original Plan for the New School
Anyone who's heard me talk about Cambridge's past has heard the stories about the East End and the West End and their inability to get along. And least you think it's about long ago history, let me present these two photos of the original plan for the new school.

The first school vote in Cambridge was held in 1799. The West End and the East End voted to build an academy. A few weeks later they held a second vote to determine the location. For some reason, the East Enders didn't show up for the second vote and the West Enders unanimously voted to build the Cambridge Washington Academy on the West End, on what became known as Academy Street.

Throughout our history we've always had schools on the East End and schools on the West End. The one-room schoolhouse on the East End is the brick house on North Park Street 2 buildings north of the white Church at the traffic light. You may know it as George and Ellie Hastings home. The one-room schoolhouse on the West End was on School Street, that connected the south end of Academy Street and South Union Street. On South Union street, just north of George and Helen Robertson's yellow house with green shutters there is an empty lot. This is where School Street was and this is where the West End's one-room schoolhouse was located. George Robertson told me there is a photo of him on his family's lawn with the schoolhouse in the background. I've never seen it but will talk to George's kids. The West End schoolhouse was moved to North Road (maybe in the 1970s?) and converted into a garage.

From 1872 to 1891 the Cambridge Union School of the West District was housed in the Cambridge Washington Academy building. It was located at the corner of Academy and Pleasant Street in the empty lot next to Frank Pemrick's old house. During the same period, the Cambridge Union School of the East District was housed in the estate of J.P.Putnam located in the field behind what is today Stewart's (that's why the pizza shop next door is called School House Pizza).

In 1891 J.B.Rice filled in the swampy lot just west of his Seed House and the Cambridge Union School was erected. It took Cambridge almost 100 years but we finally merged the student body into one.

Then on 18-Aug-1947, around 1am on that Monday morning, the Old School burned. For 4 years classes were held in churches and business as the residents argued and debated and fought over the construction of the New School. In Sep-1950 the cornerstone was laid for the New School and one year later the CCS Class of 1952 walked through the doors to begin their senior year.

However, that's not the whole story. Look at the attached photos. This is what appeared on the front page of the Washington County Post newspaper in early 1950. This is the plan that was presented to the Cambridge voters. Obviously this is not the building that was erected. So now I have to read some more old WCP newspapers to find out how, when, and why the plans were changed.

Cambridge ... an interesting place to live.
Ken Gottry, CCS 1968

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