Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 17, 2013

HIGGS: More about Trott Vocational

Niagara Gazette — Happy belated Father’s Day to James Fullerton Trott who is the historical “Father of our Schools” and to all our present day fathers who have this annual opportunity to celebrate this honorable and important status in their life; a status that should not be taken lightly as it bears a tremendous significance for the future.

More research into past Gazette articles led me to lots of discoveries about Trott. Before 1919, vocational training was not offered in any day school program in Niagara Falls. In September of that year, 32 pupils were enrolled in a machine shop class in the basement of 24th Street School. The following year an electrical shop course was offered at Niagara Street School. Things started happening in this regard as a vocational advisory committee was formed made up of members of labor, industry and the board of education. In 1923 an apprentice training program was established with the assistance of the Employer’s Association of Niagara Falls and various trade unions.

The student enrollment kept increasing and finally the Board of Education decided to build a new vocational school in 1927. A contract was awarded to Laur and Mack Building Company. The Gazette described it on opening day as “a hub of sorts — centrally located so that it could be easily reached from any part of the city.” School officials called it the city’s “monument to industrial evolution” and “a great and useful civic servant”.

The school was patterned after real life industrial conditions as its design combined a typical school and factory design. Forty-eight rooms included shops, classrooms and other amenities such as a cafeteria, gym, library and pool. Trott also housed the Central Junior High School as city enrollment was growing at a fast pace and its facilities were needed. The first graduating class consisted of 17 boys in June of 1931. By 1939 enrollment was 779 students and Trott was selected to form the WPA program locally.

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