Reprinted from: FranklinTownship, Somerset, NJ: A History
JacobusSchureman, who came to America from Holland with Rev. Theodorus J.
Frelinghuysen in 1720, is believed to be FranklinTownship's first schoolmaster.He was an itinerant teacher who traveled through the same territory
Frelinghuysen covered in his ministry. A school at Three Mile Run probably
dates from about 1720; Frelinghuysen was living in that area at the time.
In December 1722, a schoolmaster named Francis
Harrison was living at Six Mile Run. He was conversant in Dutch and English. In
1730, he wrote and published a book, The English and Low-Dutch
In his history of SomersetCounty, Reverend Abraham Messler
said there were few schools in the area before the American Revolution. Only
rudimentary reading, writing and arithmetic were taught. Geography, history and
mathematics were not important.
Messler described a little red school house built around 1795
that was typical of many throughout the area. Its one room was about 24 feet
square and had just one door. A fireplace was along one wall. Furniture was of
the simplest kind. The younger students sat on plain wooden benches with no
backs. Older students sat on benches at either side of a long table. Two square
tables of different heights were near the teacher's place for little students
who were learning to write. The outside walls were painted red with white
casings on the door and windows.
said the early schoolmaster was strict and a firm believer in the effectiveness
of the birch rod when necessary. He kept one by his chair.Students' minds were improved not by reading
a wide variety of books but by reading a few good ones very well. Writing and
ciphering books were models of neatness. The school-master's food was supplied
by the parents of his pupils. They would take turns providing a week's
provisions. The schoolmaster sometimes slept in a garret or loft at the school.
An early school bill has survived. It belonged, to David Nevius (1758-1825) of Pleasant Plains. The bill, dated, May 8, 1799, was rendered by "John F. Tunnard,
school-master" for schooling David's children, (John, David Jr., and Wilhelmpie). The school was not identified, however, the
bill refers to teaching in quarters (one-fourth of a year) and to "night
school." The teacher's rate was approximately 1 shilling per week. Other
expenses passed onto the students' father were for a broken pane of glass,
"quills" (2 shillings) and a portion of the maintenance supplies:
brooms, pail and an axe handle (3 shillings).
Some of the younger children of David Nevius may have acquired their education with different
teachers. Margaret and a brother received their "early education"
under Rev. Dr. James Spencer Cannon, who was pastor of SixMileRunChurch from 1797 to 1826. Later, Margaret attended
"Eliza and MaryHarnackSchool" in Princeton. It was
described by her daughter as, "quite a celebrated school for the
time."While at school, Margaret
lived with an older married sister, Ann Nevius
The first public schools in New Jersey were for poor children. In 1820, the state placed the
responsibility on the townships to raise taxes to provide for public schools,
but only "for the education of such poor children as are
paupers."In 1828, the townships
were given authority to vote at town meetings on raising funds to build and
The following year, the state legislature granted the
townships the power to create school committees to care for these funds and to
provide educational facilities approved at the town meetings. It may have been
around this time that many of the township's one-room schoolhouses were built.
A school committee in Franklin was first appointed in 1833. The early members were:
1833-1838 James S. Nevius
1839-1846 John Terhune
In 1846, the state placed more financial responsibility
on the townships to fund education by requiring them to raise local taxes at
least equal to the amount the state provided. Towns were authorized to elect a
superintendent of schools to replace the school committee. Also, teachers had
to be licensed by the county or the township.
The Franklin school committee was replaced in 1847 by a town
school superintendent. The early FranklinTownship school superintendents were:
Rev. J. A. Van Doren
1852 Dr. Lewis Mosher
1853 Rev. George J. Van Neste
John N. Hoagland
John J. Van Nostrand
1862 Benjamin S. Totten
Rev. J. A. VanDoren
The New Jersey Legislature abolished the position of
town superintendent in 1866. Instead, provisions were made for a county
who would be appointed by the New Jersey Board
FranklinTownship's early schools were exclusively one-room structures.
Many were still being used in the early 20th century. The schools were located
approximately three miles apart-the distance a school child could be expected
to walk or ride a horse each day.
When Snell compiled his history of SomersetCounty, he included a statistical report for the school year
ending August 31, 1879. FranklinTownship had 13 school districts, plus one outside the
township: Clinton in Bound Brook, which served Franklin students.
The districts were numbered on a county system; Franklin's schools were numbered 60 through 75. Although 705
of the township's 1,090 school-age children were enrolled, slightly less than
one-third (344) actually attended school.
one-room school had 55 students enrolled in 1879; however, it could hold only
50. Fortunately for everybody, the average number of students attending was 26.
Sometimes there would be only two or three children in each grade, or as many
as eight or 12. Students in the lower grades could hear what the older students
were being taught. It was not unusual for a child to skip a grade and graduate
teacher at each of the township's one-room schools taught all eight grades and
was also responsible for handling janitorial chores.
Schools were made entirely tuition-free in 1871. That
year, New Jersey provided for a state school tax on property. Parents
no longer had to pay tuition for their children to attend public schools. Free
education was no longer only for paupers. Education became compulsory with
state laws passed in 1913 and 1914.
historian Ralph W. Thomson described school board elections during the years
around World War I.One meeting was held
at the MiddlebushSchool for the entire township; 20 to 25 people would show
up, two or three names would be put in nomination, and that was it.In 1930, additional voting places were made
In 1907, the state of New Jersey agreed to pay the tuition and transportation cost for rural
students to get a high school education. Students purchased monthly tickets for
rides. Their families would then send the bill to the state every few months
for reimbursement. The state, in turn, refunded three-fourths of the cost.
FranklinTownship provided the first school bus in 1911. At that time,
the school board decided there were enough children in the Franklin Park area to warrant transportation to New BrunswickHigh
they put out a request for bids. The winning bid came from Van Dyke Higgins for
$275 to transport six pupils. He had a pair of mules and an old carryall-a
four-wheeled covered carriage-with benches facing each other along the sides
and side curtains. Higgins transported the kids to school, put the mules in a
livery stable and waited until
to take them back home. At least one embarrassed kid insisted that the
"Donkey Bus" let him off two blocks before reaching the school.
By 1935, Franklin. Township had eight school bus routes that were jobbed
out to four private contractors. C. I. Van Cleef ran
five of the
A large amount of housing construction in the Hamilton Street area at the end of World War I brought more children
to the township, so a school was needed. In 1921, the four-room HamiltonSchool was built on Hamilton Street and Matilda Avenue. It differed from earlier schools in that it was
created as a result of rapid development. That would be the case with the
schools that would follow in the township. By 1925, the HamiltonSchool proved to be too small. Two portable two-room school
buildings were erected at the rear of the structure. The short-lived two-room BrunswickParkSchool was built at the same time on a ridge near Easton Avenue.
The decline of the one-room schoolhouses began in 1917
when the RaritanRiverSchool closed. Most of the one-room schoolhouses were phased
out soon afterward. Thomson dated the decline even earlier.In 1895, 61 residents of Middlebush
petitioned for an elementary school with two rooms instead of one in their
village. The end of an era came in 1932, when the last one-room schoolhouses
were abandoned in Franklin
Park and Griggstown.
When three rooms were added to the old Franklin ParkSchool, the one-room schools were no longer needed.
The year 1932 also marked the opening of the PineGroveManorSchool. The school was built because of overcrowding at HamiltonSchool. There was also overcrowding in Franklin Park.
During the 1935-36 school year,
231 FranklinTownship secondary students attended high school in the
surrounding communities of New Brunswick, Princeton, Bound Brook and Somerville. This amounted to $27,500 in tuition; up from about
$25,500 the year before.During the
1935-36 school year, 830 pupils were en- rolled in the
township's five public schools. The MiddlebushSchool had the highest first-day enrollment with 304; the KingstonSchool had the lowest, with 62.
Early Township Schools
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jim Moise conducted dozens of oral history interviews with FranklinTownship residents, many of whom attended Franklin's one-room schools. The tapes were part of a project
undertaken by the then-active Franklin Township Historical Society.
asked each person his or her impressions of these early schools. There was a
surprising consistency among the responses. They remembered the pot-bellied
stoves, the kids fetching coal and water, the outhouses, the no-nonsense
teachers, how hard the teachers worked, and how hard they worked. Some of these
recollections are summed up in a description Ralph Thomson included in his
history of FranklinTownship.
In addition to teaching all eight
grades, the teacher, to a very large extent, took care of all the janitor
services. At or in the afternoon, when school let out, the fire in the cast-iron
pot-bellied stove was banked with sufficient coal to carry through until the next morning. On Monday mornings a new fire had to be started and
the teacher had to arrive especially early. The teacher had to live within
walking distance of the school, the same as the children attending. Few schools
had wells, so drinking water was carried in a pail, from the nearest dwelling
by two pupils that the teacher might assign. This was a much coveted
assignment, awarded to the older kids who had managed to keep on good terms
with the teacher.
Peter Nepote, who attended
South Middlebush Schoolhouse, recalled that he and
the other boys handled the heavier chores such as carrying buckets of water
from a farm across the road, shoveling snow, cleaning the outhouse and tending
the stove fire.
Each Monday morning, one of the boys would have to
arrive a little early to restart the fire. He had to carry in the coal, shake down the
ashes, load the stove with dry corncobs, heap coal on top of them, then light the cobs with a paper torch. The fire tender had
to bank the fire before leaving school each day and add coal the following
Nepote also remembered the
homework and firm discipline. Back then, there were no snow days. The only time
school was canceled was when the stove wasn't working.
The earliest known school in
the Middlebush area was on South Middlebush
Road, across the road from the Wyckoff-Garretson house.
(At that time, it was the John Wyckoff House.) The school was erected about
1730. Ralph Voorhees wrote that the school was near an Indian hut.In her history of Middlebush,
Elsie Beatrice Stryker theorized that the school primarily served the Wyckoff and Van Doren
The second school in the Middlebush area was on the east side of South Middlebush
Road, probably in the late 1700s. The land on which the
school stood was owned by Garret Voorhees Sr. and was between what is now DeBow Street and Railroad A venue. Students attended the school from as far away as
the Landing and RaritanRiver areas.
Middlebush Schoolhouse No.3
lane off South Middlebush Road
third school probably was built in the early 1800s. Judge Ralph Voorhees, who was born in 1796, taught at this school for many years.
It stood across the street from the Jeremiah Voorhees house, near the lane
leading to what was later called Como Estates.
Middlebush Schoolhouse No.4
lane off South Middlebush Road
The fourth Middlebushschool was opposite the third, on the village side of the
lane leading to Como Estates. The building was still standing in 1850, when the
county map was drawn. The school was probably abandoned in 1858, when the new
schoolhouse was built. Stryker listed the names of a few students known to have
attended the school. She said the school served as a social center; debates
were also held there.
Years later, John Van Middlesworth
bought the "little red schoolhouse" and moved it to his place in the
village. It was used for many years as a carpentry shop and a barn but was tom
down in the early 1930s. Some of the beams were built into the garage that now
stands in its place.
Middlebush Schoolhouse No.5
Amwell Road and Olcott Street
The fifth school in Middlebush
was built in 1859 in back of the Reformed church. The second floor, called the
"Lecture Room," was used for Sunday School
and prayer meetings. In her journal, Aunt Betsy Van Liew
wrote that a fair and festival were held in the woods near the MiddlebushChurch to pay the debt for the school. The event cleared
W. S. Willis was listed as a teacher at the school in
1886.In 1907, when Ida Hummer was the
teacher, the student population had grown so much that the four upper grades
were moved upstairs, and a second teacher, Bessie Meyers, was added.
In 1916.the building was moved across the street and used as a
private residence for a few years. It was tom down around 1920. One side of the
old building was incorporated into a garage.
transferred from the UnionDaleSchool and was a student at the Middlebush
Schoolhouse after it became a two-room school. She recalled that Miss Hummer taught the upper grades upstairs. The lower grades were on
the first floor. Treptow's father lobbied for the
school board to make Middlebush a four-room school,
but everyone told him: "We'll never need a four-room school.
Amwell Road and Olcott Street
The sixth school in Middlebush was a large two-story stucco building built in
1916 on the same site as Schoolhouse No.5, at a cost of $6,000.This school was used until 1926. The building
served as Franklin's municipal Town Hall from 1926 until 1972, when
the Municipal Complex opened on DeMott Lane.
MiddlebushSchool was constructed in 1926. In
its early years, it had eight teachers fot its eight
classrooms, a 500-seat auditorium and a basement room. By 1935, about 300
pupils attended the school. Many came by bus.In May 1976, a few months after the school celebrated its 50th
anniversary, the ceiling collapsed in the auditorium. It was empty at the
time.In 1979, the Board of Education
made the decision to close the school. Parents, students, teachers and
taxpayers all fought in vain to keep it open. Students were transferred to the HillcrestSchool that September. There was
talk of reopening the school in 1981, but the cost of bringing it up to current
building code requirements would have been prohibitive.
Road and Skillmans Lane South
Middlebush Schoolhouse stood for many
years on the southeast corner of South Middlebush
Road and Skillmans Lane. It was abandoned in 1924
and sold to Sarah Clark, the owner of the land. The building was later
purchased by the Franklin Park Volunteer Fire Company, which moved it to a new
site in Franklin Park on state Highway Route 27. In December 1946, it was
destroyed by fire.
Ida Hummer was a teacher at
the school in 1886.
Miss Hendrickson, who taught
at this school, sometimes made soup for the children on cold winter days.
Students brought the ingredients from home-carrots, potatoes, a piece of pork-
and she cooked them all together. She boarded with a family in the historic
Wyckoff-Garretson House on South Middlebush
Road. She walked to school.
Pleasant Plains Schoolhouse
Suydam Road (moved to Municipal Complex
Pleasant Plains Schoolhouse
was originally on the north side of Suydam Road, about one-half mile from South Middlebush
Road. Prior to 1839, it was known as the Union Seminary.
That year, a lease changed the name to Pleasant Plains. Part
of the building dates from the early 19th century, and part from the mid to
later part of the century.
A list of Franklin teachers in 1886 indicates
Lizzie S. Van Kirk was teaching at the school that year.
The school's name was
changed again in 1913 to Franklin Park School No.6. It was abandoned as a
school in 1930. In 1931, Harold Suydam purchased the
building for $150, paid $265 to have it moved across the street and converted it
into a home.
The land on which the
schoolhouse was located was scheduled to be part of Hovnanian's
Town and Country Estates housing development. Fearing its possible destruction,
a group of citizens banded together in 1995 to save the ancient building. K. Hovnanian Inc. granted a 90-day work order stoppage in
September to allow the committee to come up with a plan to move the building. Hovnanian also donated $20,000 to help restore the
schoolhouse. The building was transported to the Municipal Complex in April
Elm Schoolhouse probably
dates back to the early to mid-19th century. It was located at what was once
Voorhees Station, just north of the Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad
crossing on Route 27. Hattie DeMott was a teacher at
the school in 1886.
In November 1908, the school
was destroyed by fire. It was immediately rebuiit at
a cost of $1,200. It was abandoned in 1921 when the HamiltonSchool opened.The last teacher/principal at the school was
Mrs. Margaret Van Doren Welsh.
In a 1980 interview, Ralph
Thomson said the building was still standing on Churchill Avenue, near the railroad crossing
and was then owned by a steel drum company that was using it for storage.
Three Mile Run Schoolhouse
Route 27 near Cozzens Lane
Three Mile Run Schoolhouse was on the Suydam Farm on Route 27, facing Cozzens Lane. A school stood in this
area in the early1700s. It is not known whether this was the same building. Probably not. And if not, this schoolhouse dated at least to
the early 1800s.
Luke Whitlock was a teacher
during the first quarter of the 1800s. He moved with his family to Ohio in 1825. Carrie Root was a
teacher at the school in 1886.Miss Harrop and Miss Dorn taught there in the 1920s.
In the 1920s, when members
of the Hobbs family attended school there, the one-room school
had only seven grades. Students went to Franklin Park for the eighth grade
because it had two rooms.
The school was abandoned in
1928. The land and building were sold in 1931 for $1,000, and the structure was
turned into a hardware store. The building later burned.
Woodlawn Schoolhouses No.1 and No.2
(Lower Ten Mile Run Schoolhouse)
Route 27 near Bunker Hill Road
WoodlawnSchool was located just opposite
the present KendallParkShopping Center on Route 27, near Bunker Hill Road. The school was probably
built in the late 1700s. The schoolhouse was standing in the year 1800, when
President and Mrs. Washington are said to have passed by its doors. The story
goes that the school children were called outside and lined up along the Old Road (Route 27). As they
cheered, Washington bowed, smiled and waved his hat. An observer wrote
that Washington "spoke kind words to the children. ... Later Washington seemed to enjoy the
unexpected and somewhat singular interview." The children, in turn,
"made their obeisance" [paid their respects].
In 1886, Eleanor Compton was
a teacher at the school.According to
information in the G. Clifford Nevius Records in the
Special Collections and University Archives at RutgersUniversity, a new schoolhouse was
erected in 1891.
The schoolhouse was
abandoned in 1922. It was sold in 1924 for $1,000, including land.It then became an ice cream store/gas
Some historians believe a
school probably began operating in Kingston a few years after 1723,
when the Kingston Presbyterian Church was established.
The earliest known school in
Kingston was built in 1776 in the northern part of the
village, on the SomersetCounty side of the road.Apparently, it was torn down 20 years later,
when a schoolhouse was built on the southern side of the village, in MiddlesexCounty. (Kingston
Schoolhouse No. 2).Kingston Schoolhouse No.2 was
converted into a private dwelling in 1831.
Around 1829 or 1830, a
schoolhouse was constructed near Route 1 in South Brunswick for Kingston students by members of the
Van Dyke family (Kingston Schoolhouse No. 3).
In 1871, a schoolhouse was
constructed on the hill at the Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery. It was a
fairly large building, as it was attended by almost 100 pupils. Some of them
came from as far as Franklin Park. During the latter part of the 19th century, a
circulating library may have kept its books there.
KingstonSchool was the first FranklinTownship multi-room school to be
built in the Kingston area. Previously, Kingston students attended a school
Brunswick. Two acres were purchased for $2,500, and the school was built in 1922
at a cost of $14,000. A cooperative arrangement was made with the school in South Brunswick so that certain grades
attended one school, while others attended the other school. Lois Kruschnitt was an early teacher at the school.
A four-room addition was put
on the school in 1948.In 1956, the
Franklin Township Board of Education identified $50,000 for another addition to
KingstonSchool was changed to a K-3 school
in 1977 to correct a racial imbalance as part of the New Jersey Office of Equal
Education Opportunity (DEED) mandate. The success of the magnet school program
instituted in 1991 brought a reassignment of grade levels at Kingston and all the elementary
schools in the district in the fall of 1993.
KingstonSchool closed in 1998.
Union Dale/Cedar Dale (Cedar Grove)
Cedar Grove Lane near New Brunswick Road
This schoolhouse was on the
west side of Cedar Grove Lane, just north of New Brunswick Road. The Somerset County Road
Book mentions the Cedar Grove Schoolhouse in the 1842 survey for Cedar Grove Lane.
Kate E. Garretson was a
teacher at the school in 1886.Between
1907 and 1910, a young woman from New York taught at the UnionDaleSchool and lived on a farm near
the school, Monday through Friday. On the weekends, she lived at Ralph
When Elizabeth Treptow attended the UnionDaleSchool, the teacher, William
Ayers, came from Bound Brook. She recalled classes started with a reading from
the Bible. Two students sat at each desk. She later transferred to the Middlebush Schoolhouse.
The school was abandoned in
1919 and sold in June 1924 for $200. The building was remodeled as a private
Elsie Beatrice Stryker
mentioned a schoolhouse was located "at the bend to the left on Cedar Grove Road." She noted that the
building was gone by 1935.
Upper Ten Mile Run Schoolhouse No.1
Old Georgetown Road near Copper Mine Road
The first Upper Ten Mile Run
School was on Old Georgetown Road, near Copper Mine Road. Cora O. Potter taught at
the school in 1886.It stopped being
used as a school when a schoolhouse was built across the street in 1906.Afterward, a man named Anderson lived in the building.
Upper Ten Mile Run Schoolhouse No.2
Old Georgetown Road near Copper Mine Road
The second Upper Ten Mile
Run School was built in 1906 across the street from the old one on Old Georgetown Road near Copper Mine Road. The school was a memorial
gift from Mrs. Jane E. Phillips, who donated $1,400 to build it. She did so to honor
her late husband, George W. Phillips. The school was renamed the PhillipsSchool. In 1932, after the school
closed, the building and land were sold at a public auction.
Anna Kiss Peacos attended the PhillipsSchool as a child. She said many
local activities centered on the school. The school Christmas Party was
attended by the whole neighborhood. After the school closed in 1931, there was
no longer that cohesiveness.
grew up on the Kiss farm in southern Franklin, next to the three women who
were heirs to the Phillips estate (now Princeton Classics). She learned from
them what prompted Mrs. Phillips to build the school. She was told that on her
daily walks, Mrs. Phillips became concerned that the existing school (Upper Ten
Mile Run Schoolhouse No.1), a one-room building across from the present Peacos house on Old Georgetown Road, and still occupied, was
inadequate. So she proceeded to build the first PhillipsSchool about a half block east on
the opposite side of the same road.
Mrs. Phillips also
established the PhillipsSchool Scholarship for an
alumnus of the PhillipsSchool for room and board at
Trenton State College. Mrs. Peacos was encouraged to
apply for the scholarship. She did and "so became a FranklinTownship teacher for 24 years."
About eight others before and after Mrs. Peacos
got an education because of "a wonderful woman."
Unfortunately, the scholarship's principal was invested in Delaware and RaritanCanal stocks, which, said Mrs. Peacos, "went belly up."
Easton Avenue between DeMott
Lane and Leupp Lane (JFK Boulevard)
Raritan River Schoolhouse
dates back at least to the mid-19th century. A schoolhouse is shown in that
location on Otley's 1850 map. It was on the south
side of Easton Avenue, midway between DeMott and Leupp lanes. Ida Philhower taught at the school in 1886.
Raritan River Schoolhouse
was abandoned as a school in 1917 and sold for $51.The building was torn down in the 1970s.
Garden apartments are on the site today."
Bloomfield Avenue near Easton Avenue
As early as 1918, residents
of this area were petitioning for a new school. In 1925, this two-room portable
building was erected on a ridge just south of Easton Avenue at Bloomfield Avenue. It was built at a cost of
$7,000. It met its demise in 1932 with the construction of the PineGroveManorSchool. The building was abandoned
and sold for $1,350.
Weston Schoolhouse No.1
School House Road
The first Weston Schoolhouse
stood near the burying yard, between the MillstoneRiver and the D&RCanal. It was located there
because of the growing population in the northeast corner of present
Hillsborough-the area of Roycefield or Harmony
Plains. It also served the area of Franklin that was then called Van Neste's Mill and later Weston. The schoolhouse was
originally built of logs in the 1730s or 1740s.Around 1798, a Mr. Gordon taught there. Edward Belcher taught there
about 1800. Abraham and Garret Montfort taught there
around 1824. In 1834, the building burned, and the district was split into
Harmony Plains in Hillsborough and Weston in Franklin.
Weston Schoolhouse No.2
School House Road
The second Weston
Schoolhouse was on the north side of School House Road, about 100 yards from Weston Canal Road. It was probably built soon
after the old schoolhouse burned in 1834, and the district was split between
Lizzie N. Karshow was a teacher at the school in 1886.The school was abandoned in 1919 and sold in
June 1924 for $400 to the Pillar of Fire. The church tore down the building in
Griggstown Schoolhouse was on Canal Road, just north of the Griggstown Reformed Church and is believed to date back to
1849. In 1854, the church moved the school behind and south of the church to
land it purchased from William Voorhees.
Mary R. Voorhees was a
teacher at the school in 1886.In 1932,
the board of education auctioned off the school. Clifford Nevius
purchased the schoolhouse on behalf of the church. It was then used for social
events and activities. After the Church Hall was built, the school was used tor a variety of purposes, including a library, meeting
room for Sunday School, and finally for storage.The school was moved again in 1960 to a
location behind the Church Hall.
In 1981, the Griggstown Historical Society began to restore the building
to its original state as a one-room schoolhouse. They repainted the exterior,
installed a pot-bellied stove and replaced many broken window panes. The
society began holding its meetings in the building, using candles and oil lamps
In her history of Griggstown, Laura P. Terhune
listed some of the teachers who taught at the school: Miss Klingerman,
Mabel Mertz Dixon, Carrie Carroll, Miss Kupp, Miss Helen
Seasholtz, Irene Connor (Peters), and M. Louise
Crawford, who in 1931 was the last teacher.
A Teacher's Memories
Dixon was 98 years old when she spoke with Jim Moise
in 1979. She received her teacher's training at a normal school in Bloomsburg.
She completed a three-year course in two years then took a regular teaching
job. She taught in southern New Jersey first, then at the GriggstownSchool from 1911 to 1915. Back
then, the school board did not hire married women. "If you got married,
your contract would be canceled," she noted. She also said teachers would
discipline students by pulling their hair or shaking them.
GriggstownSchool was located near the
Reformed church. Children would play on the church grounds and steps. Dixon was appalled by that at
first, but got used to the idea. Classes began at She would arrive around
to write lessons on the blackboard and start the fire that had been banked from
the day before. She summoned her students by ringing a hand bell 15 minutes befure the start of school.
Teachers boarded with local
families for about $8 a month. Dixon boarded with storekeeper
Harvey Boice, across the brook from the church. She
taught all eight grades. About 30 students showed up each day. She earned $50 a
month. With no principal, the teachers in the one-room schools had to report
directly to the county superintendent and the township school board.
Graduating from the eighth
grade required a trip to Pluckemin, about 20 miles
away, to take required tests. After completing elementary school, students
attended an area secondary school such as New BrunswickHigh School.
While some Griggstown children attended the GriggstownSchool on the east side of the
river in FranklinTownship, others attended RiversideSchool on the west side of the
Millstone in MontgomeryTownship. RiversideSchool was occupied before 1812,
when it was leased by Major John Baird. The school was consolidated with
another Montgomery school in 1927. The building was sold to William H.
Graeber in 1928. A new school was built in the area
in 1912. The two Griggstown schools competed against
each other in ball games, spelling bees and other events.
Canal area, south of the Millstone Causeway
Before the village name East
Millstone was used, a schoolhouse once stood about 250 yards south of the canal
causeway. The school served both FranklinTownship on the east of the river
and what was then known as Somerset Court House (Millstone) on the west of the
river. Snell noted that teachers named Flannery and Welsh taught there at the
beginning of the 19th century.The
building was moved to Millstone, near the MillstoneChurch in 1807. At that time the
teacher was James Ellison, a carpenter. He was succeeded by a man named
Belcher. A new school was built in 1814.
East Millstone Schoolhouse No.1
Corner of Elm and William streets
An old wooden schoolhouse
once stood opposite the MethodistChurch. It was there in 1850 when Otley's map was drawn. The schoolhouse was replaced by the
brick building on Wortman Street in the early 1870s.
East Millstone Schoolhouse No.2
East Millstone Schoolhouse
No.2 was built in the early 1870s. The brick structure replaced an old wooden
building opposite the MethodistChurch that the town had outgrown.
George B. Randolph was a
teacher at the school in 1886.Mrs.
Margaret Van Doren Welsh taught at the school from
1909 to 1913.
1971 interview, Martin E. Metz said his father was one of the first students in
the new school. The elder Metz recalled two special
features, now long gone: a pump in the front yard where students could fetch a
pail of water, and a belfry atop the schoolhouse.
The school went through
major renovations after 1900. The belfry was dismantled, and the entrance was
moved from facing WortmanStteet
to facing Welsh's Lane. A sliding-door partition was installed to create two
The school had two
pot-bellied stoves and two outhouses adjacent to the building. Until 1925,
there was no electricity. Oil lamps provided illumination for evening events.
The school functioned for
much of this century for first through seventh grades. The teaching
responsibilities were split between two teachers: One taught first through
fourth grades; the other, fifth through seventh.
was one of the last two teachers to share the responsibilities just before East
Millstone rejoined the FranklinTownshipSchool District in 1950. He later taught in
other FranklinTownship schools.
Rieur had just graduated from
Montclair State College when he was hired in 1949. He taught geography,
history, arithmetic and science to all the fifth through seventh graders as a
group-a total of 17 students.
Along with fellow teacher
Maude Spicer, Rieur reported regularly to East
Millstone's three-member board of education. Spicer's and Rieur's
classrooms were separated by the movable partition. When they had assemblies or
showed movies, the partition's doors were moved apart.
In those days, the rubber
factory was still operating, and a train would go there a few times each month.
When it passed by, everything stopped. Students and teachers all went outside
Rieur enjoyed the old pot-bellied
stove in his classroom. When they ran low on coal, the student who made 100 in
the arithmetic test was allowed to go next door and fetch more.
EastMillstoneSchool was operated by the FranklinTownship school district until 1975.
It was sold in 1976. In October 1977, JumpingStoneNursery School took over the building.
Hamilton Street and Matilda Avenue
In 1921, the four-room HamiltonSchool was built on Hamilton Street and Matilda A venue at a
cost of $30,000. In 1987, Mayor Joseph Martino reminisced about attending Hamilton before he transferred to PineGroveManorSchool in 1934. He said the
toilets were 50 feet from the building in a very airy shed. Running water came
from an outside pump. After Hamilton, he said the transfer to
the newly constructed Pine Grove was "like being downtown.”
By 1925, the school proved
inadequate. Two portable two-room buildings were erected at the rear of the
structure at a cost of $12,000.The
school was discontinued as a general classroom building when the new MacAfee Road and Conerly Road schools opened in 1966. The
Franklin Township Board of Education converted the school to administrative
offices. In 1985, the Board put the building up for sale.
School/Phillips School Route 27
The old Franklin ParkSchool was built in 1909 at a cost
of $4,450. Originally, it was two rooms, but a three-room brick addition was
put on in 1931, at a cost of $33,000. In 1954, the school was renamed PhillipsSchool to honor Mrs, Jane E. Phillips. In 1916, when she died, her estate
provided for a trust, the income of which was to provide scholarships to TrentonStateTeachers College for qualified pupils from
By changing the name of the Franklin ParkSchool to Phillips, the terms of
the scholarship could be met, and it left the name Franklin Park free to be used for another
school in 1957.
The school was closed in
1976. It was used by the Franklin Township Recreation Department until 1993,
when structural problems forced the department to relocate to the MunicipalBuilding.
FranklinJunior High School
(Wing of High School)
When FranklinHigh School opened in 1961, the
township's seventh and eighth grades attended classes in the new high school
building. The following September, the seventh graders were moved to HillcrestSchool. They stayed there until
September 1964, then returned to the high school and attended classes in the
new junior wing, along with eighth-grade students.
In 1968, when Sampson G.
Smith Interediate School was completed, the high school
took over the junior wing and the seventh and eighth graders transferred to the
Children in Blackwells Mills used to attend school in a one-room
schoolhouse in Hillsborough (near Hillsborough Road), even though it was
outside the district. The other schools were too far. The Hillsborough school burned down in the 1930s. BlackwellsMills resident Bert Martin Norton recalled that there
was a different teacher almost every year, but she did remember one was Margarita Hill.The teachers boarded with the Wyckoff family.
Norton said some of the
older boys were bound boys-foster children sent by the state to live with and
work for farmers.
When Van Cleef
started a bus service, Norton switched to MiddlebushSchool. Many of the young people
who lived along the canal went on to SomervilleHigh School. Those from other parts of
town mainly attended New BrunswickHigh School.
started school at PleasantPlainsSchool when he was five and his
family lived near Franklin Park.Later, when
they moved to Blackwells Mills, he went to the
Hillsborough school.He recalled going to Flagtown for a final
exam. Graduation services were held at the NeshanicChurch in Hillsborough. He said
the supervisor came down from Somerville once a month. Teachers
would discipline students in the cloak room. Some children were hit,
particularly the bound boys.
Colleges in FranklinTownship
RutgersCollege and New
Brunswick Theological Seminary
Until 1850, a small portion
of New Brunswick was within the boundaries of FranklinTownship. It encompassed all the
area up to Albany Street and included the old Rutgers campus.
The area was usually
referred to as New Brunswick, even back then. But it was
taxed under FranklinTownship and subject to SomersetCounty authority. Its population
was also counted with Franklin's in the federal censuses.
All the very old building on the RutgersCollege campus
once part of this New Brunswick section of FranklinTownship: Old Queen's Building, Van
Nest Hall, the President's House (now gone) and the original Theological
Seminary buildings. The old Theological Seminary buildings are now gone, but
this is still the location of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, long
since separated from RutgersCollege.
Rutgers was founded in 1766 as
Queen's College. It is one of the oldest colleges in the United States.Since its earliest days, FranklinTownship has had strong ties with Rutgers. Frederick Frelinghuysen,
grandson of Reverend Theodore Jacobus Frelinghuysen,
was one of the first instructors at the fledgling college. A great-grandson,
The Honorable Theodore Frelinghuysen, was born in FranklinTownship. He served as the seventh
president of Rutgers between 1850 and 1862.
Among the early college
trustees were several 18th-century Franklin residents:
Rev. Johannes Leydt of Six Mile Run (1770)
Hendrick Fisher of South Bound Brook
Abraham Van Neste of Weston (1771-1779);
Rev. Abraham Beach
Jacques Voorhees of Six Mile Run (1790-1792).
Many Rutgers faculty and staff members
have chosen Franklin as their place of
residence. And so have many alumni. A recent college alumni directory for the New Brunswick campus, listed more than a
thousand graduates geographically for Somerset, Franklin Park, Middlebush
and East Millstone.
Franklin has a long history of
producing Rutgers graduates. It started with the very first class in 1774, which
consisted of one student: Matthew Leydt, son of Rev.
Johannes Leydt of SixMileRunChurch.
The second graduating class had 14 members. Three
were from FranklinTownship: Abraham Schenck, John H. Schenck and Dr.
Henry H. Schenck. Their mother was Magdalena Van Liew from Middlebush. Their
father Hendrick/Henry operated the mill at
grandson of Franklin's first schoolmaster, was
also in that class.
AlmaCollege was established by the
Pillar of Fire in Zarephath and named for Pillar
founder Bishop Alma White. The college had its be- ginnings when an elderly professor came to Zarephath in 1917 and offered to teach college- level
classes.A college charter was requested
in 1921, and subsequently granted by the state of New Jersey.
Because another college AlmaCollege already existed, the Zarephathschool took the name AlmaWhiteCollege. The college granted bachelor of arts, science and theology degrees. It also had
a master's degree program.
The college was heavily
damaged when Tropical Storm Doria hit the area in
1971 and was not able to open that fall. At its peak, AlmaWhiteCollege had just under
200 students. It lost its accreditation in the mid-1970s. The college made the
decision to shut down its liberal arts and science programs. The state gave the
school permission to allow the students then enrolled to finish. It graduated
its last student in June 1978.
Canal Road, Zarephath
Zarephath Bible Seminary is operated
by the Pillar of Fire. It is an outgrowth of the Zarephath
Bible Training School that
had been in operation since
1908. The seminary offers theological training for Pillar of Fire ministers,
missionaries and others interested in fundamental Bible- centered study.
Parochial and Private Schools
A few private high schools operated
in the villages of FranklinTownship in the second half of the
19th century. One was on Welsh's Lane in East Millstone. During the 20th
century, this building was used as St. James African Methodist Episcopal
Church, and still later as an Odd Fellows Hall.
Elm and Market streets
Maude Carter operated a
private girls' boarding school in East Millstone from 1901 to 1906.The school employed two teachers and later
moved to Princeton.
A small number of boys
attended the school as day students. The original school was in a large brick
house constructed around 1855 and known as the A. T. Vroom House. Today, it is
a private residence.The day school was
in the Odd Fellows Hall.
Middlebush Institute, a private
school, began in the home of J.Newton Voorhees. Voorhees was teacher at
the Housetonic Institute in Connecticut, where he met and married
another teacher, Amanda Olcott. In 1864, they moved
to Middlebush and established a "fine type of private
school of high-school grades.” Mrs. Voorhees taught French, music, and
"the accomplishments." After she died in 1876, the school closed for
several years. When Mr. Voorhees remarried, the school reopened.
Scholars came to the
institute from Bedminster, Franklin Park, Griggstown,
Harlingen, Millstone and Pennington. Some traveled on
horse-back; others boarded at the school. In 1880, Voorhees built the main
institute building. It consisted of two large rooms with a sliding door, two
desks, and heavy tables and benches.
Reverend DeWitt Talmadge, who became a nationally famous preacher, was
educated at Middlebush Institute.
By 1917, the building was
owned by Lewis Stryker and known as Stryker Hall. After Middlebush
Reformed Church was destroyed by fire that year, services were held at the hall
until construction on the new church was completed in 1919. The building later
became the home of the Frank Pennell family.
Griggstown Private Schools
In the 1940s, a girls'
finishing school was located at "Stepping Stones," at the corner of
Canal and Copper Mine roads. It was part of the Scudder-Collver
School of New York City and was a boarding school until 1947.
In the early 1950s, a
nursery school operated in the Towpath House in Griggstown.
C.A.P.A.; a creative and performing arts day camp for children 8 to 14 years
old; was operated by Harry and Jacqueline Rubel
during the summers from 1963 to 1973 on Canal Road, south of Mosher Road. This
school was a forerunner of the state's Teen Arts Program.
Kingston Private Schools
In addition to at least four
schoolhouses known to have operated for Kingston students during the 18th
and 19th century, there appears to have been some private schools in the area.
By 1835, a man named Colby was operating a private school in Kingston. An announcement in a local
newspaper in November 1870, heralded the opening of the Kingston Institute,
headed by a Professor Wagner as a "day and boarding school for gentlemen
who have finished their English Education and wished to get an education in
German, French or the Classics."
1345 Easton Avenue, Somerset
RutgersPreparatory School was founded in 1766, soon
after Queen's College (Rutgers) received its colonial charter. One of the
six founding members was township resident, Reverend Abraham Beach.
Another was Reverend
Johannes/John Leydt, who served the Dutch Reformed
Church at Six Mile Run. Classes were once held in a building on the northeast
corner of Albany and Neilson streets in New Brunswick (then part of FranklinTownship).
The Preparatory School
remained affiliated with Rutgers until 1957, then
became entirely independent. In December 1957, the 35-acre Wells estate on
Easton Avenue-between DeMott Lane and Willow
Avenue-was put up for sale. The school's trustees believed the 22-room mansion
could be converted to an elementary school, and the estate had enough room to
build an upper, or secondary school building.
Ironically, ReverendBeach, one of the original
trustees, had once lived in the house. When his daughter Hannah Rattoone died in 1848, the property passed to her niece
Julia Beach Lawrence. From her, it went to her son Lawrence Wells and then to
Julia L. Wells.
The trustees purchased the Wekks estate, also known as Elm Farm, for $137,500. Classes began for
the lower school in September 1958. The upper school continued meeting in New Brunswick. To provide needed income
during this transition, the trustees leased three acres of land to
Colgate-Palmolive Company for a temporary lab facility.
After Colgate moved out in
1962, the upper school moved into its new quarters. An annex to the lower
school was built in 1970. A middle school building and library were built in
In November 1983, RutgersPreparatory School was hit by a major fire that
destroyed almost $1 million in property. A wing of the upper school sustained
the most serious damage.A year later, a
classroom and lab building for the upper school opened.
For much of its history, the
school was an all-boys' institution. Today, it is a coeducational day school
with a reputation for its strong college preparatory and computer science
programs. The LowerSchool accepts pre-kindergarten
children through grade four.
Canal Road, Zarephath
AlmaPreparatory School was founded as ZarephathAcademy by the Pillar of Fire Church
in 1912. The school was accredited by the state of New Jersey in 1916.It is a coeducational, college preparatory
school that provides a Christian education for students in grades seven through
12. Academic achievement is a top priority, and students are encouraged to
attain their maximum potential.Classes
are held in the Ruth Staats Alma Preparatory School
Saint Matthias School
170 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
The land facing JFK Boulevard on which Saint Matthias
School is built was donated by Amwell Estates
developer Nathan Koslow. The parish was able to
purchase the adjoining 10.8-acre parcel.
In 1964, groundbreaking was
held for Saint Matthias School. The first classes were held in September 1965
for grades one through four. A grade was added each year until all eight grades
were being taught. The Sisters of Mercy and several lay teachers made up the
In 1995, Saint Matthias was given
approval by the Franklin Township Planning Board to build a two-story addition,
expand the front parking lot and relocate the east driveway. The
12,000-square-foot addition that was finished in 1996 provided space for the
addition of two kindergartens and a preschool for 3- and 4-year olds. Classes
are at ground level. The second floor holds a media center and meeting room.
OakCrestCountryDay School is an inclusive
primary-education program operated by Kids 1, a private provider of specialized
schooling for children with academic and behavioral challenges. Kids 1 was founded in 1986 and presently has programs in
five states. Its schools and programs are licensed and approved by the states
in which they operate under contract with the public schools.
Oak Crest offers full-time
and part-time nursery, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and primary programs up
to the third grade for children with and without disabilities. The school's
philosophy is that by learning together students also teach one another.
HighRoadUpperSchool was founded in 1986 and is
also operated by Kids 1. It is for students ages 12
through 17 with special learning needs. The specialized private school
environment provides a positive learning experience with personalized
The school's goals are to
prepare students to reenter the public school system or find post- graduation
employment and live independently.
Highland and Pine Grove avenues
To alleviate overcrowding in
the HamiltonSchool, the PineGroveManorSchool was built in 1932 at a cost
of $92,000 on five acres of land purchased for $1. Ralph Thomson said when it
was built, this school was "pretty much off the
beaten path.” When PineGroveSchool opened (
in September 1932, it had eight classrooms. The cafeteria and auditorium
were in the basement. Women volunteered for lunch duty. Soup and sandwiches
sold for about three cents.
In 1987, Franklin Mayor
Joseph Martino recalled his experiences at the school back in the 1930s. He
said the school provided many services to students during the Depression. A
room was set aside in the basement for a dentist, who saw all the students. The
district also provided medical exams, a barber, and even piano lessons. Movies
were shown in the auditorium for a dime. At Christmas, small boxes of hard
candy were given to the children.
An addition was completed in
1954. The addition was named for Mrs. Margaret Van Doren
Welsh, who taught at the school since 1938 and was principal when the addition
was built. Mrs. Welsh spent 50 years in the FranklinTownship school system.
The school grew to 26
classrooms. It was changed to a K-3 school in 1977 as part of the OEEO mandate.
At the time, the student population was 59 percent nonwhite, about 20 percent
more than allowed in Franklin. Grade levels were
reassigned again with the magnet program, and Pine Grove became a K-2 school.
In 1981, the oldest wing of
the school went through extensive renovations: a new auditorium floor, new fire
walls, additional exits in the hall-ways and an updated electrical system.
Large auditorium windows were removed to make the building more
The 21-room ElizabethAvenueSchool was dedicated in November
1957. In 1971, Elizabeth Avenue had 425 white students and
only 18 black ones. And while the HillcrestSchool was overcrowded, there were
vacancies at Elizabeth Avenue. To correct the imbalance,
students were transferred from the Hillcrest school.
Elizabeth Avenue was changed to a K-3 school
in 1977 as part of the OEEO mandate. It later changed to K-4. In June 1997,
ground- breaking ceremonies were held for the addition to the school.
The 10-room Franklin ParkSchool was dedicated in 1957, just
one month after the ElizabethAvenueSchool. It was changed to a 4-6
school in 1977 as part of the OEEO mandate. With the magnet programs, grade
levels were reassigned again. Franklin Park is now K-6.
The new Franklin ParkSchool opened in September 1998 on
the campus of the old Franklin ParkSchool. Where the former school
held about 130 students, the new one can accommodate more than 900. Franklin ParkSchool was the first new school in
the township in three decades.
The 21-room HillcrestSchool was dedicated in September 1958
at a cost of $600,000. Within six years it would require an addition. The new
addition opened in 1964. In 1963, seventh-grade students were transferred from
the high school because of overcrowding. They stayed at Hillcrest until 1964,
when a new wing opened.
In 1966, the Board of
Education made Hillcrest a fifth- and sixth-grade school to improve the racial
balance in township schools. In 1971, some students were transferred from
Hillcrest to the ElizabethAvenueSchool after the state issued a
directive to develop a segregation plan.Hillcrest was changed to a 4-6 school in 1977 as part of the OEEO
mandate. Grades levels were reassigned to 3-6 in 1993 with the magnet program.
MacAfeeRoadSchool was built on an 11.5-acre
tract of land originally owned by Levitt & Sons.
The school had been built to accommodate kindergarten through sixth grades, but
to improve the racial balance in township schools the Franklin Township Board
of Education in 1966 made it a K-4 school. It opened in September 1966, with
637 pupils and 27 teachers. With the 1977 OEEO mandate, it became a K-3 school.
The school remains K-3 with the magnet programs.
ConerlyRoadSchool was built on 12.5 acre
tract of land in the Foxwood section of Franklin. It opened in September
1966, at the same time as the MacAfeeRoadSchool. The school had been built
to accommodate kindergarten through sixth grades, but the Franklin Township
Board of Education took steps in 1966 to improve the racial balance in township
schools by making it a K-4 school.
In 1977, as part of the OEEO
mandate, ConerlyRoadSchool became a 4-6 school. With
the success of the magnet school program, ConerlyRoadSchool became a 3-6 school. Ground-
breaking ceremonies were held for the addition to the school in June 1997.
Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School
The $2.1-million Sampson G.
Smith Intermediate School opened in 1968 with 27 standard classrooms, 17 lab-
and shop-type classrooms and a capacity of 1,105 students. The school is
situated on 32 acres just off Amwell Road.
Sampson G. Smith, a Middlebush resident, taught history for 19 years at New BrunswickHigh School. He was named supervising
principal of Franklin's schools in 1941, SomersetCounty superintendent of schools
in 1945, Franklin superintendent of schools from 1958 to 1966, and
president of SomersetCountyCollege from 1973 to 1974. Smith
was a member of the Franklin Township Committee from 1940 to 1942. He died in
A $6.1 million expansion to
the school in 1992 added 16 classrooms, two science labs, computer lab, a
greenhouse, several smaller instruction rooms, a new library/media center,
freezer for food services, and a basement for storage. The school's existing
library was converted to data and word processing labs. New soccer fields were
completed in 1993.
Until 1992, Sampson G. Smith
School accommodated seventh and eighth graders. That year, 100 sixth-grade
students began attending the intermediate school. They were the first of the
magnet school students to attend. They would be joined by several hundred more
the following year.
Before 1961, FranklinTownship's secondary school students
attended Bound Brook, New Brunswick, Princeton, Highland Park and Somerville high schools. In October
1957, Princeton announced it could not take
Franklin's students after September 1961; it did not have
room for them. Franklin was sending approximately
130 students there.
With 672 secondary school
students and the number predicted to be 1,004 by 1962, the township had to do
something about building its own high school.
In April 1959, the site was
chosen: a 37.3 acre tract adjacent to HillcrestSchool on Franklin Boulevard. The school was designed to
accommodate 1,632 pupils. Ground was broken in September 1960. The general
contractor was a local company, Sisler Bros.
The $2.3 million, 52-room FranklinHigh School opened its doors to 1,370
students on September 8, 1961. The school was officially
dedicated on Sunday, October 22, before a crowd of 2,400.
The keynote speaker was U. S. Senator Clifford Case, son
of a former pastor at SixMileRunChurch. Case was born in Franklin Park and educated in the township.
Franklin's 170 seniors did not
transfer to the new high school when it opened in the fall of 1961. Instead
they finished their last year where they had started, at Bound Brook, Princeton, Highland Park and New Brunswick high schoo1s.
Franklin High at 25
When FranklinHigh School celebrated its 25th
anniversary in 1987, English teacher Norah Kuthy
reminisced about the high school's accomplishments during its first quarter
century in a Somerset Spectator interview. She said the school had
established an outstanding reputation for the Golden Warriors, its marching
band that grew from 17 to 300 members. The band won the JC National
Championship in 1967 and marched in President Nixon's inaugural parade in 1969,
representing New Jersey.
Among its many other honors,
the band marched in the Festival of States in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1971;
the Orange Bowl Parade in 1975; and represented the state of New Jersey in the
Bicentennial Parade in Philadelphia on July 4, 1976. Lionel Hampton was at FHS
in January 1980 to help the band fund a trip.
She noted that the high
school's bowling and track teams had won state championships. The football team
won the Central Jersey Group III Championship in football in 1983. She
mentioned Frank Baker, who played in the American League, Roy Hinson who was
then playing in the NBA, and John Hill who was playing in the NFL. (In 1987 and 1989, the Warriors won Group III championships again.)
Kuthy told how the school colors
(blue and gold) and the football team's name (Warriors) were chosen: The
secondary students who attended the various high schools were polled in the
spring of 1961, and they made those choices.
A FranklinTownship census was taken in 1947 to
determine the school population in five years. It found that for every 10
dwellings occupied that November, one new one was ready for occupancy or under
construction. The school population in 1947 was 1,148. The estimate for 1952
The township’s five
elementary schools- Middlebush, Pine Grove, Franklin Park, Hamilton and Kingston- were already experiencing
overcrowding that would only get worse.The board of education estimated the township was short a minimum of
East Millstone became part
of FranklinTownship again in 1950, after
operating under a separate charter since 1873.When the village rejoined the fold, two of the thorniest issues were the
fate of its two-room school and what would happen to its board of education.The matter was resolved in July 1950, when
the Franklin Township Board of Education decided to continue to operate the
tiny school for both East Millstone and township pupils through the four lower
grades and to combine the two boards.
By November 1951, the Franklin
Record was predicting that unless a building program was undertaken, a
shortage of classroom space would weaken the instructional services of the
township.In February 1952, the Franklin
Township Board of Education decided it would need a 13-room addition for PineGroveSchool by 1953.
Voters approved the $415,000
project, and ground was broken on the addition in the spring of 1953. It was
dedicated in October 1954. Meanwhile, in the fall of 1952, when classes resumed
after vacation, crowding forced double sessions at the school.
Other municipalities were
also experiencing a population crunch. In 1954, Bound Brook informed the FranklinTownship school board it could no
longer accept their high school students because of overcrowding. New Brunswick accepted some of the
students, but it was becoming increasingly apparent the township needed its own
high school, and soon. Within a few years, Princeton would stop taking township
The school board hired four
more teachers in September 1954. In January 1955, plans for two new schools
were put before the school board. A year later, the planning board approved the
sites for Elizabeth Avenue and Franklin Park schools. Ground was broken
in November 1956. But by then, the township had grown so much that two new school
additions were required. While construction was moving ahead on the Elizabeth Avenue and Franklin ParkSchools, construction began on a
third, to be called Hillcrest.
The board of education tried
to get approval for a junior high school in 1955, but it was voted down by more
than 2 to 1 in August. It would have been built on a 64-acre tract near Middlebush. The same proposition had been defeated the
The 1957 school budget was
$1 million for the first time. When classes began that fall, some 2,200
students were enrolled-a jump of 20 percent in just one year. The township had
to fill 24 faculty jobs.
When classes began in
September 1959, the Board of Education had to transfer 100 high school
students. New Brunswick did not have room for them.
Despite the pressing need for a secondary school, Franklin voters rejected the
$2,679,000 high school bond issue that same month. After knocking almost
$400,000 from the budget, the bond issue was once again submitted to voters in
January 1960. The plan got the go-ahead the second time around. Residents voted
two to one in favor of a pared-back $2.25- million bond issue.
In 1964, voters in record
numbers turned down a $1.38 million referendum for two new 21-room elementary
schools near the new Levitt and Foxwood
developments. The following April, a referendum was once again put before
voters. It was announced that if voters approved construction of the two
schools, the HamiltonSchool would be discontinued as a
general classroom building. This time, the voter turnout was not as heavy-about
one-fourth less than the previous year.The referendum was approved, and construction got underway for the MacAfee Road and Conerly Road schools. They were opened
Two years later, the Sampson
G. Smith Intermediate School opened off Amwell Road. With the SmithSchool, Franklin's new-school construction
marathon came to an end.
nationally and statewide began to decline in the early 1970s. Franklin was no exception. The
number of public school students dropped from 7,309 to 4,465 between 1970 and
1982. Some of the decline was because family sizes had decreased. And some was
because many of the people who moved into the new apartments and townhouses did
not have children. Also, there was an increase in the number of township
students attending private and parochial schools.
By 1982, the school system
had space for 1,300 more students, so the existing schools were more than
adequate to serve current needs. The sharp drop in school enrollment brought a change in the township's
master plan. When a new plan was prepared that year, the allocation of school
sites was no longer one of the town- ship's objectives.
In 1977, FranklinTownship was one of 103 New Jersey school districts mandated
by the state Office of Equal Educational Opportunity to desegregate its
elementary schools. Franklin had until June 30 to come
up with a plan that would put the racial balance at 63 percent white; 37 percent
nonwhite in each school. (Nonwhite included Hispanics, American Indians,
Alaskan natives, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and people with origins in any of
the black racial groups ofAfrica.)
Satisfying the state mandate
was an emotional issue for many township people. More than 30 desegregation
proposals were considered. The final plan created four K-3 and four 4- 6
schools and was implemented without incident.The problem of maintaining a racial balance in Franklin's school system was and is
a continuing process. In 1984, a task force established to look into racial
imbalance in the township's schools recommended transferring about 100 of the
township's 1,100 K-3 students.
Pupils from Pine Grove, Elizabeth Avenue and Kingston schools were transferred to
MacAfeeRoadSchool for a time to relieve
over-crowding and create a racial balance. MacAfee's enrollment had declined
and the school had developed a racial imbalance. It had a capacity of 482, but
an enrollment of only 291.
After Sampson G. Smith
Intermediate School was built in 1968, FranklinTownship did not add any new schools
for more than 20 years. By the end of the 1980s, the school system was feeling
the pinch of the growth spurt that had taken place during that decade. In
1988-89, as the elementary school population outstripped available classrooms,
the board of education had to purchase 16 trailers to provide extra space for
educational programs and services. By the following year, all portable and
permanent classrooms were in use. Educators were predicting a 25 percent
increase in students by the mid-1990s.
One solution to the space
squeeze was to reorganize the elementary and junior grade levels from K-3, 4-6,
7-8 to K-2, 3-5, 6-8. That required putting the sixth grade in the intermediate
school. Moving the sixth graders to Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School meant
they would have the benefit of computer and science labs, shop, home economics,
foreign language programs and other facilities. But it also meant the taxpayers
would have to fund a $6-million expansion. In 1991, the school board asked for
and received the money for the addition. Only 2,264 of the township's 21,355
registered voters voted. The $6-million referendum passed by exactly 200 votes.
The 1990s saw other major
changes in the FranklinTownship school system. When classes
resumed in the fall of 1991, Franklin High School was experiencing a
$13-million renovation program that saw the library/media center expanded,
classroom space improved, the science wing renovated and the building brought
up to code. The renovations were completed in 1992. That September, the high
school had its highest enrollment in eight years, including 400 incoming
freshman. The schools also had a stu-
dent population that spoke 46
The Franklin Township Board
of Education introduced magnet programs into the schools in September 1991. The
purpose of the programs is to group students by their specialized interests. By
providing students with instructional choices, educators believe the magnet
schools will help both students and parents take a greater interest in their
education. All students participate in a core curriculum based on
state-established standards and designed to meet the educational needs of
participants in each magnet program.
Parents and students are able to choose among
Early Childhood: Elizabeth Avenue (K-4), MacAfee Road (K-3), Pine Grove Manor
Fine, Visual and Perfonning Arts: Pine Grove Manor (K-2), Franklin Park (K-6), Conerly Road (3-6)
Science and Technology: Elizabeth Avenue (K-4), MacAfee Road (K-3), Franklin Park (K-6), Hillcrest (3-6)
Academy for Classical
Humanities and International Studies: Franklin Park (K-6)165
Very few schools offered the
kinds of choices Franklin's students were being
given. Franklin was an innovator, and soon educators elsewhere
would be visiting to see the classes in operation. Within three months after
the magnet schools went into operation, five school districts sought to copy Franklin's program.
HillcrestSchool, a science and technology
magnet school, was selected as a 1996-97 National Blue
Ribbon School of Excellence. It was one of 226 public schools and 36 private
schools nationwide to receive the honor. The school has had other state and
national academic recognition. It was named one of 10 New Jersey "Star Schools" in
1994. In 1995, HillcrestSchool was named by Redbook magazine
as one of "America's Best Schools."
The magnet schools were a
big hit. The 1991-92 school year-the year the program
was implemented-saw a significant increase in student enrollment, especially in
kindergarten and first grade. Because the number of classes needed exceeded
those available, the Franklin Township Board of Education had to make some
When the 1992-93 school year began, enrollments were even higher. The schools were
restructured from K-3, 4-6, 7-8 to K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Some of the magnet school
classes were relocated. International studies, for example,
was moved from ConerlyRoadSchool to Franklin ParkSchool.
The Franklin school board was able to
report in 1992 that the school district had been commended by the New Jersey
Office of Equal Educational Opportunity and the U.S. Office of Civil Rights for
its eftorts to establish equity and excellence in
In 1995, the board of
education was predicting a student population of 7,461 by the year 2000. The
board explored a number of options to create more space. Onewas to
build a new high school and convert the existing high school into a middle
school. Another involved adding to existing elementary schools or building new
ones. Several options were presented to taxpayers in November. They carried
price tags ranging from $20 million to $50 million.
The following March, the
board of education narrowed its options down to one proposal: Renovate three
elementary schools and build a new one in Franklin Park. A $17.5-million referendum
went on the ballot in April and was accepted by the voters.
Groundbreaking for the new Franklin ParkSchool was in April 1997. The new
multi-magnet K-6 school accommodates 900 stu- dents. Conerly Road and Elizabeth Avenue schools were expanded.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for additions were held at both schools in June 1997.
In addition to the magnet
schools, the FranklinSchool District offers a Gifted and
Talented/Enrichment Program. Advanced placement courses are offered at FranklinHigh School.
Among the 1997 graduating
class, 80 percent of seniors planned to go on for further education. Some
members of the senior class received acceptances from the most competitive
colleges and universities in the United States, including Brown, Cornell,
Georgetown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. Many
more received offers from highly competitive and very competitive colleges.
Seniors applied to and were accepted by more than 140 schools.