Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Schools - 1906

The Old Agassiz school (formerly the Central school) looking from Burroughs st.

This information is taken from the Manual of the Public Schools of the City of Boston, 1906. The system at the time was broken down in to Kindergartens, Primary schools (grades 1-3), Grammar schools (4-9) and High Schools (grades 10-12).

The Agassiz and Bowditch schools were built in the 1890s, and were segregated by sex. So why were there cooking and sewing teachers at the Agassiz? Did the boys learn sewing? That doesn't sound right. Maybe there were after-school classes. At some point, the system changed, the primary schools were eliminated and the Agassiz and Bowditch became K-6, as I remember. Which means there must have been empty classrooms in the 1960s when I attended the Agassiz. My mother went to the Bowditch and my father attended the Agassiz. Notice that truant officers were necessary for each school - that says something.

The Washington street school was a wood frame buiding just south of Forest Hills, along the railroad tracks on the left. The Tollgate Footbridge came over from Hyde Park Ave beside the school property. I suspect that the footbridge was built to get children from the Walk Hill area over to the school. The school sat very near Stony brook, and the area flooded when the brook was high, so the neighborhood people often complained to the city about the conditions. The Parkman school was built in part to replace it.

The Old Agassiz was originally the Central primary school, as the carved name above the entrance noted. I attended the Old Agassiz for my first three years, and have no memory of the inside of the building. I always though that it was odd that the entrance to the school looked out on the back of the retail buidings that faced Centre street. Now I believe that the school would have looked out above the wood frame buidings that once lined Centre street when it was built. Still an odd alignment, but not as puzzling.

The Parkman school had a portable school associated with it. I've seen mention of a portable school at the Agassiz school as well. Apparently, the system was overcrowded and they brought in one-room trailers of some kind. When they did the same thing in the 1970s to deal with overcrowding in some schools, people were horrified. It seems as if the solution had a history in Boston.

The Hillside primary school stood at the corner of Elm and Everett sts. My mother went to the Margaret Fuller school in the early 1930s, but she thinks she remembers the brick building on the corner, as it was opposite the Central Congregational church that she attended.

The Chestnut Ave school was a wood frame building that sat just north of Boylston st. That section of Chestnut ave had once been called Curtis st, and the school was the Curtis school, in honor of the Curtis family that had owned a farm in the area since the earliest colonial times. The Curtis homestead stood very close to the school on Lamartine st.

West Roxbury high school still stands on Elm street, now containing the ubiquitous condos. When first built, West Roxbury high school actually was the high school of the town of West Roxbury. Even after the town was annexed by Boston, it still served all of Jamaica Plain Roslindale and West Roxbury until Roslindale High School was built (in the 1920s?). A couple of things caught my eye. First, no agriculture courses! The school had the agriculture program when my parents attended in the late 1930s-early 1940s, and they were still offered in the 1960s. So when did the city of Boston decide to start offering agriculture courses to city kids? Someone help me out here.

A second thing jumped out at me. One of the faculty teaches Greek, German and Mathematics, another History, English and Mathematics. Either they were phenomenally well-rounded, or they were Jack-of-all, Master-of-none. It's certainly not the kind of thing you see these days.

I listed some primary and grammar schools after the high school. That's becuase they were in the Roxbury school district. The city didn't necessarily follow the old community boundaries when providing services, but both Heath street and School street were considered Roxbury by many at the time. During the 20th century, Jamaica Plain seems to have grown gradually towards Parker Hill, and those who grew up in the Hyde sq./Heath street area during the mid-20th century usually call it Jamaia Plain.

I have nothing to add about the Mendel, Jefferson or Heath St. schools. Which makes a point in itself. During the 20th century, Jamaica Plain was not a small town, where everyone knew everyone else. Children may have come together in high school, but Heath street and the Monument district were different communities. They were just too far apart for people to get to know each other.

Agassiz District (Jamaica Plain)

Grammar School (Boys)

Brewer and Burroughs streets

John T. Gibson, Master
Joshua Q. Litchfield, Sub-Master, Gr IX
Mary A. Gott, 1st Assistant, Grs. VII, IX


-----, Gr VIII
Clara I. Metcalf, Gr VII
Caroline N. Poole, Gr. VII
May E. Ward, Gr. VI
Mary E. Stuart, Gr. VI
Mary A. Cooke, Gr VI
Clara J. Reynolds, Gr. V
Elvera M. Bloom, Gr. V
Sarah A. Moody, Gr. IV
Ethelyn A. Townsend, Gr IV
Sara D. Davidson, Gr. IV

Special Instructors

Ellen B. Murphy, Cookery
Helen I. Whitemore, Manual Training
Grace E. Hayden, Manuel Training
Eldora M.S. Bowen, Sewing

George A. Cottrell, Janitor, 22 Thomas st., Jamaica Plain
Warren J. Stokes, Truant-officer, 1850 Centre st., West Roxbury

Washington-Street School
Near Forest Hills square

Josephine A. Slayton, Assistant, Gr. IV

Patrick M. Connelly, Janitor, 75 South st., Jamaica Plain

Francis Parkman School
Walk Hill street, near Hyde Park avenue

Arthur Stanley, Sub-Master, Gr. VIII

Jessie A. Shaw, Gr. Vii
Mabelle E. Lounbury
Mabel E. Smith, Grs. IV, V

Francis Parkman Portable School, No. 45

Ethelyn C. Hallstrom, Assistant, Gr. V
Henry T. Allchin, Janitor, 49 Oakview terrace, Jamaica Plain

Primary Schools

Old Agassiz School
Burrought street, near Centre street

Caroline D. Putnam, 1st assistant, Gr. III


Mary J. Haggerty, Grs II, III
Clara E. Bertsch, Gr. II
Mary H. McCready, Gr I
Alice G. Cleveland, Gr I

George A. Cottrell, Janitor, 22 Thomas st, Jamaica Plain

Washington-Street School
near Forest Hills

Lucinda R. Kinsley, Assistant, Gr. III

Francis Parkman School
Walk Hill street, near Hyde Park Avenue


Annie V. Lynch, Gr. II
Mary A. O'Neil, Gr. I
Margaret M. Burton, Gr. I

Henry T. Allchin, Janitor, 49 Oakview terrace, Jamaica Plain


Old Agassiz School
Burroughs street, near Centre street

Isabelle H. Earnshaw, Principal
Helen B. Foster, Assistant

Francis Parkman School
Walk Hill street, near Hyde Park avenue

Julliette Billings, Principal
Olivia B. Hazelton, Assistant

Bowditch District (Jamaica Plain)

Grammar School (Girls)

Green Street

Edward W. Schuerch, Master, Gr IX
Amy Hutchins, 1st Assistant, Gr. IX


Cora B. Mudge, Gr. VIII
Annie E. Lees, Gr. VIII
Elizabeth L. Stodder, Gr. VII
Mary O'Connell, Gr. VI
Alice B. Stephenson, Gr. VI
Mary A.M. Papineau, Gr. VI
Elia F. Jordan, Gr. VI
Nellie I. Lapham, Gr. V
Lucy M. Bruhn, Gr. V
Delia U. Chapman, Gr. IV
Isabel P. Reagh, Gr. IV

Special Instructors

Ellen B. Murphy, Cookery
Helen E. Hapgood, Sewing

Samuel S. Marison, Janitor, 391 Lamartine st, Jamaica Plain
Warren J. Stokes, Truant-officer, 1850 Centre st, West Roxbury

Bowditch Portable School, No. 59

M. Louise C. Hastings, Assistant, Ungraded Class

Samuel S. Marison, Janitor, 391 Lamartine st, Jamaica Plain

Primary Schools

Margaret Fuller School
Glen Road, near Washington street

Mary E. Whitney, 1st Assistant, Grs. I, II, III
Olive A. Wallis, Gr. III
Anne K. Vackert, Gr. II
Mary E. McDonald, Grs. I, II
Tabitha Fitzgerald, Gr. I

Patrick F. Powers, Janitor, 104 Lauriat av, Dorchester Centre

Hillside School

Elm street, near Green street

Margaret E. Winton, 1st Assistant, Gr. III


Alice Greene, Grs. II, III
Martha T. Howes, Gr. II
Lena L. Carpenter, Gr. I
Sara L. Palmer, Gr I

Samuel S. Morrison, Janitor, 391 Lamartine st, Jamaica Plain

Chestnut-Avenue School
near Boylston street


Sarah P. Blackburn, Gr. III
Mary J. Capen, Gr I

Chestnut-Avenue Portable School, No. 9

Annie M. Johnson, Assistant, Gr. II

Edward Sealer, Janitor, 189 Chestnut av, Jamaica Plain


Margaret Fuller School

Glen road, near Washington street

Anna E. Marble, Principal

Hillside School
Elm street, near Green street

Lillian B. Poor, Principal
Florence J Ferguson, Assistant

West Roxbury High School
Elm street, opposite Greenough avenue, Jamaica Plain

George C. Mann, Head-Master
George F. Partridge, Master, Greek, German, and Mathematics
George A. Cowen, Junior-Master, Chemistry and Physics


Josephine L. Sanborn, English and History
Mary I. Adams, English and History
Blanche G. Wetherbee, History and Algebra
Caroline W. Trask, Latin, German and Mathematics
Frances B. Wilson, French
Rebecca Kite, Biology
Annie N. Bunker, English, History and Mathematics
Mabel O. Mills, English, History and Latin
Mary K. Tibbits, English and French
Emma F. Simmons, French and Mathematics

Special Instructors

Leon C. Colman, Commercial Branches
Ellen F.G. O'Connor, Drawing
Catherine L. Bigelow, Physical Training

John H. Kelley, Janitor, 25 Ballard st, Jamaica Plain
Mary E. McDonough, Matron, 59 Monadnock st, Dorchester

George Putnam District (Roxbury) Grammar School Ellis Mendell School
School street

Ede F. Travis, Assistant, Gr. IV

Primary School Ellis Mendel School
School street

Julia H. Cram, 1st Assistant, Gr. III


Amoritta E. Eallman, Gr III
Mabel L. Brown, Gr. II
Alice H. Shaw, Gr II
Anna H. O'Connell, Gr. II
Mary A. Gove, Gr I
Mary L Sullivan, Gr. I
Louisa Prescott, Gr. I

John D. Hardy, Janitor, 247 Shawmet av.


Ellis Mendel School
School street

Anita F. Weston, Principal

M. Alice Costello, Assistant

Jefferson District (Roxbury) Grammar School (Boys and Girls)
Heath street

Edward F. Sherborne, Master
John W. Lillis, Sub-Master, Gr. VIII
Elinor(sp?) W. Leavitt, 1st Assistant, Gr. IX


Annie B. Dooley, Gr. VII
Mary A. Leary, Gr. VII
Eleanor F. Somerby, Gr. VI
Margaret L. Toole, Gr. VI
Mary J. Fitzsimmons, Gr. V
Annie W. Leonard, Gr. V
Vincent A. Keenan, Gr. IV
Helen C. Laughlin, Gr. IV

Special Instructors

Margaret A. Fay, Cookery
Katherine Robinson, Manual Training
Mary L.E. McCormack, Sewing

Michael J. Crowley, Janitor, 25 West Dedham st.
Henry M. Blackwell, Truant-officer, 107 Brook av. Dorchester

Primary Schools Jefferson School
Heath street


Mary E. Murphy, Gr III
Mary J. Stark, Gr. III
Edith E. Cox, Gr. II
Susan H. Nugent, Gr. II
----- ------ Gr. II
Ellen C. McDermott, Gr. I
Mary V. Prendergast, Gr.

John A. Andrew District Heath Street School

Mary M. Phelan, Assistant, Gr. I

Nellie G. Watson, Janitor, 818 Heath st, Roxbury

Kindergartens Jefferson School
Heath street

Ida E. McElwain, Principal

Mary G. Murray, Assistant

Heath Street School

------ ------, Principal

Catherine L. Gately, Assistant


  1. Hello,
    I was looking at some old maps online looking into the development of St. Peter St. and saw the plot for the Chestnut Ave School. Interested, I looked a little more into the Chestnut Ave School and I think the building still exists. The raised grounds are gone but the building looks just like the one on the city of Boston archives Flickr photostream:
    Here's the link to the current Google maps street view:

    PS - I love your blog! I can't stop reading it. Keep up the good work!

  2. Yes, that is the same building.

    1. The old Agassiz janitor listed above, George Cottrell, lived at Thomas, Joey Lane's house. Cottrell was civil war drummer boy. He would tell my dadw ho grew up at #20 war stories.

    2. The old Agassiz janitor listed above, George Cottrell, lived at Thomas, Joey Lane's house. Cottrell was civil war drummer boy. He would tell my dadw ho grew up at #20 war stories.

  3. I went to the old Jefferson school on Heath Street in the sixties and wanted get names of old friends from the school. I've got great memories of days gone by. I've aways wanted to contact old friends.

    Roland Julius Thibodeau
    email at:

  4. Roland - try the facebook group "I Grew Up in Jamaica Plain." Lots of Hyde sq people there.

  5. I attended the old Agassiz for 3 years in the mid '60's. Mrs. White in 1st grade, mrs. Mills in 2nd and Mrs. Manning (I think)in third grade. I remember two classrooms per floor, again, I think. I do remember the broad wooden steps inside and the fire escape. We were still having air raid drills back then, too.

    Steve Ginter
    I can't remember the janitor's name but it was decidedly Italian.

    We lived on station at the VA in a building that was the last of four that were torn down, right across S. Huntington from the Home for Little Wanderers.

  6. I went to Agassiz from K-4th grade, starting in 1947. Miss Mills (first grade) was my favorite teacher. I wish I knew what happened to her. I don't know her first name. Her class was my first experience with an African American and immunized me to racism. I wish I could have thanked her.