Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 6, 2013

HIGGS: Comments and more on landmark school building

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — There were two more intermediate or “junior high schools” but we have to backtrack a little to stay in the times. Trying to keep all of these landmark schools of the past in the proper time sequence is difficult as so much was going in our city during these early years. A little recap is probably necessary now as you have had a lot to digest during the last few weeks.

On March 17, 1892, two villages were incorporated into the City of Niagara Falls – Suspension Bridge and the Village of Niagara Falls. Only two schools existed then, Fifth Street School which changed to the Niagara Falls Union School in 1888 and the Suspension Bridge Union School which ultimately became Cleveland Avenue School. A centrally located high school was proposed by then Superintendent of Schools, Nathaniel L Benhan. He was in favor of one location with financing one of his main reasons.

During May of 1901, the city residents voted for a new high school to cost $150,000. The land at the corner of Pine Avenue and Portage Road was purchased from Augustus O. Porter for $26,000. He was a relative of Augustus S. Porter (1769-1849), a surveyor with the Holland land Company who was the initial person to purchase and settle upon the land along the American side of the Falls once the British occupation ended. He and his family were the major landowners of the times and Augustus S. Porter became the first Judge in Niagara County and the first Postmaster of Niagara Falls. Hence Augustus Place and Townsend Place named after his daughter who married a Townsend.

The cornerstone was laid on Nov. 26, 1902, at a grand ceremony with 300 students attending along with the Superintendent of Schools, Reuben A. Taylor and the Principal, Dr. Thomas B. Lovell and the full Board of Education. The new school opened in September 1903 with the same entourage marching from the State Armory on Main Street to the ceremony in the auditorium and classes began the following day.

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