Thursday, November 1, 2007

New Schools

There was a surge of school building in the 1890s. Large brick buildings replaced small wood frame schoolhouses. At the same time, the system was reorganized, with different groupings of grade levels contained within schools. The Agassiz and Bowditch schools were obviously built with great pride, and celebrated in the community.

Boston Daily Globe May 19 1892

Agassiz Grammar Schoolhouse

The Agassiz grammar school building is now in the process of erection at the corner of Burroughs and Brewer sts, Jamaica Plain.

The structure, the plans of which have received general commendation from the leading architectural journals, is of about the same size of the Hugh O'Brien and Thomas N. Hart grammar schools, but although planned in the same generous manner and provision made for every modern improvement and facility, will cost the taxpayers but slightly more than one-half the amount spent for the constrution of either of the others.

The building will be three stories in height with a well-lighted basement, contains 12 large classrooms, master's room, laboratory, gymnasium and exhitibion hall, besides toilet rooms, boiler room, play rooms and cooking school in basement.

The contract has been awarded for $78,310. This sum includes everything necessary, except heating, for the completion of the building in the most thorough and workmanlike manner.
The best materials possible to be obtained have been specified to make this a model schoolhouse. The ceilings are to be wire-lath throughout, all interior partitions are fireproof material, the floors are of large timbers and plank, staircases are of iron, enclosed in brick halls, which also shows the building to be practically fireproof.

All the rooms have cement dados, window and door trims, while the blackboards will be slate of the best quality.

In the basement, the floor of which is asphalt throughout, are located the lavatories, ventilated by the "natural" method.

The system of heating is by indirect radiation, and ventilated with the aid of a fan.
The schoolrooms are all well lighted and high studded. Every class room has its own scholar's wardrobe, teacher's closet and bookcases.

The exhibition hall is very large, lighted on the ends from overhead.

The gymnasium extends across the front building in the upper story, is supplied with light from three sides and is so arranged that it can be thrown open as a portion of the exhibition hall whenever the occasion requires it.

Every room, wardrobe, staircase, hall and in fact every apartment in the building receives outside light.

The vestibules and porches are wainscotted and paved with marble, and all the outside steps are of blue stone.

The exterior brick work is of the best terra cotta brick, and the whole general effect of the building is grand and dignified.

The design is beautiful, worked out in the style of the Italian Renaissance.

The building is substatially a brick one, with the doorways and entrance porches of terra cotta.

The ornimental strings, lapel moulds of the third floor and window arches are also terra cotta, while the overhang of the roof shows hard pine timber ends and brackets.

The round cartouches under the overhang of the roof are of Italian and African marble with ornamental terra cotta lapel.

The Hugh O'Brien and Thomas N. Hart schools are practically of the same size as the Agassiz, and cost $126,348 and $132,344, respectively, while this building will be completed for less than $85,000.

April 29 1892

Bowditch School, Jamaica Plain

The Bowditch schoolhouse was dedicated at Jamaica Plain yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock.
It is situated on Green st, three stories in height, of light brick with trimmings of Milford granite, is exclusively for girls and was named for Nathaniel Bowditch, the scientist and mathematician, whose grandchildren still reside in Jamaica Plain.

Twelve schoolrooms and a large exhibition hall comprise the interior architecture, which includes separate rooms for cooking and sewing classes. Busts of Nathaniel Bowditch are placed in the halls. It was erected at the cost of $90,000 and takes the place of what is known as the Hillside school district.

A public schoolhouse on South st was named after Mr Bowditch in 1862, and the only surviving attendant at the dedicatory exercises then is William T. Adams, "Oliver Optic," who was principal of the school at the time. He was present at the exercises yesterday afternoon.
Samuel B. Capen presided, and Rev. John E. Tuttle made the opening prayer.

A choir from the school sang selections incident to the exercises, including the dedication ode by Marian A. McIntyre.

Hon. C. T. Gallagher president of the school board, in delivering the keys to Samuel B. Capen, chairman of the eighth division committee, said that if the recommendations of the finance committee are carried out the city will be well supplied with schoolhouses, and took occasion to refer to Mr. Capen as directly responsible for them.

In accepting them, Mr. Capen spoke enthusiastically of the number of new school buildings which had been done during the administrations of Mayor Hart and Mayor Matthews.
Charles W. Hill, principal of the school accepted the keys.

Rev. Edward Everett Hale delivered the dedicatory address.

Dr. Henry P. Bowditch, grandson of Nathaniel Bowditch, spoke for the family.

Rev. Charles F. Dole pastor of the Unitarian church, delivered a short address for the community, in which he said the country had one kind of aristocracy, the public spirited citizen, and that was the American nobility.

Other addresses were made by Mrs. Emily A. Fifield, F. G. Pettigrew, Hon. Thomas N. Hart, William T. Adams, Superintendent of Schools Seaver and others.


  1. pertaining to the Bowditch School. I went there 1n 1944 to I believe 1947
    which was kindergarten, 1,2,3 not sure about 3rd grade I think I left the schol half way through. My Family of six boys me being the eldest lived n crosby sq off of all st. The teachers I believe were Mrs. Anderson, Mrs Burke and another Maybe called Mrs Little. I remember well the schoolyard and walking home. And I believe even more.

  2. I went to the Bowditch School for grades K-3 during the years of 1958-62 and my younger brother also attended Kintergarten there. My teachers at the time were Miss McMorrow (K); Mrs. Alice Feeny (1); Miss Katherine Gillis (2) and Miss Dellasandro (3). Helena Preble was the principal. We (my brother and I) then transfered to Our Lady of Lourdes for the rest of our elementary education.