Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 21, 2013

HIGGS: A trip to the Third and Fifth Street schools

Niagara Gazette — Before we move on to Fifth Street School there is a little more we need to know about the “new” Third Street School.

Built in 1898 at 239 Third Street, the school sat just south of the former Lackey Plaza at the current location of the Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino employee parking lot on the corner of Third and Rainbow Boulevard.

During construction, the topic of the day was the belfry for the old school bell. The neighbors and former students felt strongly about this and funding was finally procured and the bell was back in action. In addition, Miss Eunice Shaw was continued as the principal in the new building. The new two-story brink building held seven classrooms and later additions in 1927 and 1928 were included in the total cost of $105,289.41.

As Niagara Falls began to change, the Falls Street business area grew and many of the large homes nearby became tourist homes and rooming houses. Naturally the population changed along with the times and an elementary school was no longer needed as enrollment declined by 1962 and it became necessary to close the building. The last classes were held Feb. 1, 1962, when John Taddeo was principal. The Urban Renewal Agency purchased the building from the School District for $103,174 and it was demolished.

It was duly noted by Patricia Wilson Rice, whose book I am using for informational purposes, that the “two Third Street schools had served the neighborhood for over a hundred years.”

Fifth Street School was constructed in 1855 of native sandstone. Dominic told me it was probably the only all-stone school building in the city. Some of the stone was taken from the Niagara Gorge between Devil’s Hole and Lewiston. Located on the east side of Fifth Street, between Ferry and Walnut it was used continuously for 117 years and closed in 1972. During the school’s centennial anniversary in 1955, the children researched and wrote the history of this place of learning some of which is related below.

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