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