The Corners
Culture and Education 

EDUCATION IN GLENS FALLS

Back to The Corners Home Page

Back to Culture and Education Index

           

            Early schools in the Glens Falls area were typical of those elsewhere in New York State.  They usually consisted of one room, were in a poor state of repair and were badly furnished.  Itinerant teachers, college students or people with little background or aptitude for the work, taught the students.

            The county superintendent of schools in 1844 – 45, was Lemon Thompson of Johnsburg, who was 21 years old when appointed and was a student at Glens Falls Academy.  The average monthly pay for teachers in the county at that time was $12.12 per month for men and $5.22 per month for women, which was among the lowest salaries in the state.

            Tradition states that the first school in Glens Falls was a log building located about where the Civil War Monument is on Glen Street.  Hyde states that there was an entry for a “school” in a list of buildings located in Glens Falls in 1795.

            State law in 1812 required all towns to divide their territory into school districts and to build schoolhouses within walking distance for all pupils.  In 1820 there were 18 school districts in Queensbury and ten of them reported to the state that they had a school year of three months -- which was what public funds provided for at the time.  Tuition was charged, however poor families could send their children for free.  Many did not take advantage of this assistance because of the perceived embarrassment. 

In 1823, there were three school districts in Glens Falls, all with one-room schoolhouses.  They were district No. 2 at 93 Ridge St., District No. 20 at the corner of Broad and South Streets and District No. 18 on the west corner of Warren Street and Oakland Avenue.  The building that housed the District No. 18 school burned and the land was sold in 1864.  A new school was built on Walnut Street near the railroad station, and that was used until 1934.  This district elected not to become part of the Union Free School district No. 1 when it was formed in 1881.  It remained independent and is still in existence today as the Abraham Wing School District in a building that was erected in 1937.

Over the years, there have been many private schools in Glens Falls, the most prominent being Glens Falls Academy, which was incorporated in 1841 by Mr. Randall, a Yale University graduate.  The Academy was operated until 1937.  The original building on Warren Street burned and a new one was erected on Chester Street.  The building on Warren Street apparently was not totally destroyed, as it is now part of an automobile repair shop.  The building on Chester Street today houses the Salvation Army. 

Another prominent private school was the Elmwood Seminary located on the northwest corner of Park and Elm streets.  It was opened in 1862 as a young ladies boarding and day school.  Over the years, other private schools opened for varying amounts of time but none seemed to succeed as well as the two just mentioned.

St. Alphonsus, at that time a French-speaking, Roman Catholic parish in Glens Falls, opened a school in 1873 in a building at the corner of Pine and Crandall Streets.  In 1908, a new school was erected further up on Crandall Street and the old school was then used as a convent for the nuns who taught at the new school.  The other Roman Catholic Church in Glens Falls, St. Mary’s, opened their school, St. Mary’s Academy in a brick building on Church Street.  In 1932, the Academy moved to a new, much larger building on Warren Street.  Today that building houses the combined St. Mary’s – St. Alphonsus School.

Thirty years after New York State permitted the consolidation of small school districts, Glens Falls, in 1881, decided to combine the Ridge Street School, Seminary Hill School on Church Street and the Plank Road School on Glen Street to form the consolidated Union Free School District No. 1.  Three new buildings quickly replaced these older ones: one on Glen Street where the old high school (now Heritage Apartments) was located; the South Street School at the intersection of Broad and South Street; and the Ridge Street School, located where the fire department is now.  The Glen Street building burned in 1902 and was replaced with the building that now houses apartments.  In 1926, an addition was added to the rear of the building that became the junior high school.  In 1952, the high school moved to a new building on Quade Street and the entire Glen Street building became the junior high school.  In 1981, the district sold the Glen Street building when the new middle school was built on Quade Street, next to the high school.

The South Street School was closed in 1931, when the Broad Street School was opened.  This served the district until 1981, when it also was closed and sold to private interests.  The Ridge Street School was closed in 1937, when the Jackson Heights School replaced it.  Big Cross Street School was opened in 1912, to serve the southern side of the city.  Sanford Street School was opened in 1915 and finally Kensington Road School was opened in 1958. 

The Glens Falls Academy building on Chester Street was used for a period of five years as the Glens Falls Division of Skidmore College of Saratoga.  It was a co-ed school, but was opened primarily to accommodate the large number of veterans of World War II who were making use of the GI Bill to attend college.  Another venture into post high school education in the area was the opening of Adirondack Community College, in September of 1961.  The college was first located in the old Washington County building on the road between Fort Edward and Hudson Falls.  It later moved to its present location on Bay Road just outside of Glens Falls.

A reading of the sources used for this brief account of the schools in Glens Falls will provide the interested person with a much fuller and more complete history of education in Glens Falls as well as photos of many of the schools mentioned.

SOURCES: 

The History of The Glens Falls, N. Y. City School District, 1762 – 1993.  Dr. Robert N. King, Glens Falls City Historian.

History Of Warren County, New York.  Edited by William H. Brown.  Published by the Board of Supervisors of Warren County, 1963.

Warren County, A History and Guide.  Compiled by the Writer’s Program of the Works Progress Administration in the State of New York.  Published by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, 1942.

The Post-Star, Glens Falls Centennial Edition, Monday April 24, 1939.  Section 1, page 13; Section 2, page 6.

Bridging The Years, Glens Falls, New York, 1763 – 1978.  Published by the Glens Falls - Queensbury Historical Association in cooperation with Crandall Public Library.  Pages 194 – 211.

Historical Data Relating to the School Districts in the Town of Queensbury,  Alexander W. Miller,  Chapman Historical Museum Archives.

Back to The Corners Home Page

Back to Culture and Education Index