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Tag Archives: Greens Farms Elementary School
The Westport Historical Society’s “School Days” exhibit — highlighting Westport education from 1703 to the present — closes tomorrow. Visitors give it high marks.
Westport schools have come a long way in 3 centuries. Two in particular are worth noting.
Today, Saugatuck Elementary School is located on Riverside Avenue. It’s the same building that previously housed Bedford Middle School. Before that, Bedford Junior High School. And before that, it was Staples High.
Yet Saugatuck El started out on Bridge Street. That building is now “The Saugatuck” — senior housing.
But that’s the 3rd incarnation. Prior to Saugatuck Elementary, a wooden building on the same spot was called the Bridge Street School.
The postcard above was printed before 1916. That’s when a new wing was added.
Meanwhile, across town, the handsome, Charles Cutler-designed Greens Farms Elementary School we know so well opened in 1925.
But it too was not the first school on the site. Here’s the original building:
That building was not torn down when its replacement was constructed. Like so many other structures in town, it was moved. It is believed to still stand, not far away on South Morningside or Turkey Hill.
[UPDATE: According to alert “06880” reader Chris Woods, the structure is on Clapboard Hill Road, between Morningside and Turkey Hill. It’s currently being renovated — again.)
(Postcards courtesy of Jack Whittle)
The letters shown in last week’s photo challenge — “GF” — narrowed the prospects considerably. Clearly, they were somewhere in Greens Farms.
Only one “06880” reader — Susan Huppi — knew they could be found on Greens Farms Elementary School. Not Greens Farms Academy, the post office or anywhere else nearby, as others guessed. (Click here for the photo, and all the comments.)
Wrong readers were consoled by this great info, posted by Seth Schachter (who also took the photo). He wrote:
The building that is presently Greens Farms School was built in 1925 by Charles E. Cutler, a hands-on architect. It is the only Tudor Revival school building in Westport, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. It was originally designed for a student population of around 200.
Charles Cutler built several notable buildings in town including Westport Bank and Trust (now Patagonia), the “Lindbergh house” on Long Lots (they only spent a summer there), Governor Lodge’s houses and several Beachside homes.
Additions to GFS were done in the 1950s and then the ’90’s. As with the older Greens Farms School on Clapboard, philanthropist Edward T. Bedford helped fund the new school (in addition to Bedford Elementary School on Myrtle Avenue, currently used as Town Hall).
In 1983, due to declining student enrollment, GFS was closed as a school and converted into a home for the Westport Arts Center and Senior Center. In the early 1990’s, with an increase in student population, Westport spent over $16 million to renovate and expand the building. In 1997, GFS was reopened for school use.
So now you know.
And now on to this week’s photo challenge:
If you know where it is, click “Comments” below.
Here’s a hint: Peter Tulupman took this gorgeous shot on a morning walk.
It took exactly one day from the opening of school for the first drivers to race by, totally ignoring a stopped bus and causing an accident.
A Greens Farms Elementary school bus pulled up to the Regents Park curb around 3:40 p.m. this afternoon. The stop sign was extended, yet cars in the opposite (westbound) direction roared past.
The driver honked. One car hit its brakes. But the 2 cars behind were going so fast, they could not stop. The result: a 3-car rear-end collision that sent one person to the hospital.
Police and fire trucks responded quickly. Still, it was quite an experience for at least one kindergartner, whose parents described the scene.
There are 2 issues here. One is the law: When a school bus is stopped, all drivers must stop too. That’s a no-brainer. The safety of our kids trumps your need to get wherever you are late going.
The second issue is that this section of the Post Road — Regents Park, Balducci’s, and nearby areas — has become increasingly hazardous. Condo residents believe it’s just a matter of time before a tragedy occurs.
There are no stop signs, lights or crosswalks. But there are 2 active driveways and parking lots on opposite sides of the highly trafficked 4-lane street, with cars often exceeding 40 miles an hour.
Interestingly, a police car was parked this morning in the Zaniac parking lot, monitoring this situation during the school bus pickup.
Traffic will not get better. Last night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for a 4-story, 94-unit rental property not far away: on Post Road East, opposite Crate & Barrel.
On the other hand, the proposal includes affordable housing units that will help the town earn a 4-year moratorium on complying with the state’s 8-30g statute.
In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre — and at a time when political discourse seems impossibly polarized — it’s nice to hear about a few elementary school students who believe “kindness rocks.”
Visitors to Compo Beach recently noticed a pile of colorful rocks. Looking closely, they see that each bears a message: “Happiness.” “Love.” “Hope.” “Be yourself.”
A sign near the rocks urges anyone to take home a rock that they like — and perhaps create one of their own, to leave it for others to find.
“Take one, leave one, give one!” the sign says. “Kindness is contagious!”
The “Kindness Rocks Project” is the brainchild of Greens Farms Elementary School teachers Karen Frawley and Michelle DeCarlo. They run a group called Long Neck Leaders — 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who get to school early twice a month, and come up with ideas to make a difference. Last year, they created a schoolwide “Patches Plunge” and raised $6,000 for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
Karen heard about the Kindness Project — meant to promote “random acts of kindness and inspiration to unsuspecting recipients” — and pitched it to the kids. They loved it.
Sure, it’s a little thing.
But isn’t it nice to read this, rather than another story about another mass murder?
And wouldn’t it be nice if we followed these elementary school students’ lead?
(Hat tip: Suzanne Sherman Propp)
In her 91 years, Susan Malloy was an exceptionally generous presence in Westport. Her time, energy and financial contributions aided countless organizations in town. The accolades pouring in after her death yesterday morning are heartfelt, well deserved, and broad in scope.
It’s hard to quantify which of so many institutions benefited the most from Susan’s generosity. But at least one most definitely would not be here today without her.
In 1947 a group of Westport artists began meeting informally — “and riotously,” according to a 2002 New York Times story — at various locations in town.
By 1969 they’d evolved into the Westport-Weston Arts Council. Their home was a tiny office in Town Hall.
In 1984, Joyce Thompson told the Times, the group needed its own home. They asked to use the former Greens Farms Elementary School — shuttered a few years earlier, when the student population declined.
After a year of negotiation, they agreed on a lease: $1 a year.
The newly named Westport Arts Center had to raise plenty of money, though. An oil tank had to be buried; steps needed to be installed — in addition to classrooms being converted into studios, halls painted white to use as a gallery, and the auditorium converted into a performance space.
The new center hosted art exhibitions, chamber concerts, children’s sculpture workshops and jazz jams.
But in the 1990s, the Times reports, the school population rose. The town wanted its school back. The Arts Center countered that they’d invested plenty of money in the building.
The Arts Center went on the road. They held concerts at the Seabury Center, the library and school auditoriums. They hung paintings wherever they could.
What they really needed was a home.
Heida Hermanns, a concert pianist who settled in Westport after fleeing the Holocaust in World War II, had set up a foundation to fund the Arts Center. But it wasn’t enough. And the settlement from the town had been designated for programs.
Susan Malloy stepped into the breach. “I could see the search was going nowhere,” the Times quoted her as saying. “Nothing was right. This place was too small, another wasn’t even in Westport, so I finally said, ‘OK. I’ll stake the arts center.”
Her funds covered the rent for 2 years. It also inspired more donations. The result: In June of 2002, the Westport Arts Center opened its own home, on Riverside Avenue.
It’s been there for 13 happy, fruitful, artistic years. The WAC is now as permanent a part of the town as the library or Historical Society (2 other beneficiaries of Susan Malloy’s largesse).
It’s easy to forget the past. In Susan Malloy’s case, she wasn’t looking for praise, or even thanks. She simply saw a need, and filled it.
Think of that the next time you go to the Westport Arts Center. Or drive past it.
Or the next time someone asks you to help out your town, in any way you can.
This morning’s post about Westport’s constantly changing school landscape inspired alert reader Seth Schachter to go his archives.
He’s lived here only 4 years, but he’s got a great sense of history. Seth writes:
This post card is from the early 1900’s. From what I was told, the school was in the same location as today’s Greens Farms Elementary School. It is my guess and understanding that the oldest section of today’s GFS (referred to on the inside as “the fountain area”) is probably this post card image.
Is this in fact the current site of Greens Farms Elementary School? If readers have any information on this original building, please click “Comments” below.
No one knows what perils tonight’s deep freeze will bring.
But — for the 2nd straight day — Greens Farms Elementary School will definitely not be in session.
Tonight, principal John Bayers sent this update on the ruptured water pipe that knocked out classes today:
The bulk of the damage occurred in the art room and the first and second floor hallways in that area. The maintenance staff, as well as outside contractors, made great progress today in addressing the issues brought on by this situation, but they will need additional time tomorrow to continue their work.
To ensure that we address all concerns appropriately, Dr. Landon, the maintenance staff and I have decided to close the building for students tomorrow (Tuesday). We anticipate reopening the school on Wednesday.
The closing also forced postponement of the chorus/5th grade orchestra concert. A makeup date has not yet been set.
Different things keep different people up at night.
Dave Kokoszka recently wrote:
Something has puzzled me for a long time. When I was in 1st grade, a capsule was buried at Greens Farms Elementary School. We all made drawings that were buried in a ceremony on the front lawn. Might have been 1976. It seems that the whole grounds in the front of the school have changed.
Yes and yes. It was 1976, and the front of the school has indeed changed. State laws now mandate separate different loops for buses and cars. And you thought government just didn’t care!
The bicentennial time capsule seems to have gone the way of most others: buried with great fanfare, then forgotten half an hour later.
Artifacts buried in cornerstones fare a bit better.
One of the most famous cornerstones in Westport was laid on April 22, 1884. It was the dedication of “Horace Staples’ High School” on Riverside Avenue. A crowd of 2,500 showed up; even Connecticut Governor Thomas Waller was there.
Among the contents deposited in a copper box: the names of all Westport public and private school teachers; a Bible; an 1884 silver dollar; newspapers and almanacs; a list of Westport fire companies; information from the 17th Regiment, which had gathered in Fairfield the year before to recollect their Civil War engagements; the names of the architects and workmen involved in the construction of the high school; an 1860 dollar bill from Horace Staples’ bank, and a biographical sketch of the school’s founding.
The box was lowered. A “colored workman” from Easton spread cement. A minister proclaimed: “I lay the cornerstone of an edifice to be erected by the name of ‘Staples High School,’ to be devoted to the promotion of sound learning and Christian education.”
And there the stone lay, for 83 years.
In the fall of 1967, Staples Hall – the original brick building, by then decrepit, rat-infested and overshadowed by the “modern” Bedford Junior High School (now Saugatuck Elementary) — was slated for demolition.
The occasion drew a small crowd — including Frank Osborne, a graduate of Staples’ Class of 1894 (and still a Westport resident).
During the wrecking operation, the cornerstone was recovered. The old copper box and its contents of 30 items were given to First Selectman Herbert E. Baldwin.
Plans were to eventually hand the box to trustees of the Horace Staples estate. “There is hope that it can be opened publicly with some trace of the ceremony with which it was laid in the corner almost 100 years ago,” the Town Crier reported.
That did not happen. Instead, the cornerstone was stuffed into the back of Staples’ main office safe on North Avenue. In 1976, a Staples class used it during their study of the American bicentennial.
Yes, the same bicentennial celebration during which a group of Green’s Farms Elementary School students buried a time capsule. Unlike Staples, it is now lost to history.
Postscript: The Westport Historical Society gained possession of the Staples box (minus a few items) in the late 1970s. That cornerstone – along with the lintel now on display at the North Avenue entrance, some souvenir bricks, a clock in Sherman Betts’ home, and fading memories of longtime Westporters – are all that remain of the building that, for over eight decades, was Staples High School.