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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Woodstown in Salem County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

School Buildings

Historic Woodstown NJ

 
 
School Buildings Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 24, 2020
1. School Buildings Marker
Inscription.  
U.S. President Warren Harding 1922
U.S. President Warren G. Harding was traveling by car from Penns Grove to Atlantic City on May 12, 1922 when he stopped briefly in Woodstown and addressed a local crowd at the Woodstown Public School. New Jersey Governor Walter E. Edge, U.S. Senator Joseph S. Frelinghuysen (NJ) and local businessmen Edward B. Humphreys and Archibald Jones were among those attending. New Jersey Route 40, which had been named the Harding Highway in honor of the President, had been paved to a point just beyond the east side of the school driveway.

The New Woodstown Public School Photo c 1918
A proposal to purchase the Bacon Academy property and an additional property on North Main Street was defeated at a public referendum in 1912. A subsequent proposal to purchase seven acres of land from Mr. Edward Riley and build a school on it was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in September 1914. Albert W. Dilks was chosen as the architect and the cornerstone laying ceremony was held on May 31, 1915.

Its location created controversy, as some citizens felt that the school
Woodstown High School image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 24, 2020
2. Woodstown High School
The marker is in front.
was too far out of town. At the time the school was built, there were only a few structures east of the railroad tracks including the recently demolished c. 1904 Hughes Building (site of Owen Supply Co. from 1937 to 2007), St. Joseph's R.C. Church & Rectory on Broad Street and two or three houses. Opened in September 1916, the new school accommodated all twelve grades. The class of 1917 was the first high school class to graduate at this site.

Eldridges Hill School Today
Dating from as early as the 1840s, there were eight of these rural one-room schoolhouses serving the children of Pilesgrove Township where grades from one to eight were taught—Laurel Hill, Sharptown, Fenwick, Eldridges Hill, Friendship, Union Grove & Yorktown (2). With transportation limited to horse, horse-drawn vehicle or on foot, the schools had to be relatively close to the students. The Laurel Hill School closed in 1910 and its pupils were sent to the Woodstown Public School on South Main Street. Eldridges Hill School was moved to the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Historical Society property in Woodstown in 1992. It was restored, furnished with period school equipment and is open to the public. The Borough of Woodstown also had an elementary school located on Bailey Street. It was built in the early 1900s, but only stood until the late 1950s. Many locals knew it as the Bailey Street School
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or the South Woodstown School.

Woodstown Public School Photo c 1914
The earliest schoolhouse in Woodstown was built near the junction of Elm Street and School Lane about 1750 — not far from the present high school. It was moved to a South Main Street location a few doors north of the Baptist Church and remained there as a public school for many years. The combined municipal building and school seen above replaced it in 1852.

When first built, there were municipal offices on the first floor and classrooms on the second floor. It was enlarged at some point and in 1869 the building became the sole property of the school district. It remained the only public school in the community until the Board of Education rented the Bacon Academy building for use as a high school in 1905. The first high school class, which graduated in 1885, was educated in this building. The bell that is positioned under the school sign is understood to have hung in a small bell tower on top of the school/ municipal building shown above in the late 1800s.

Woodstown Public School Photo c 1921-22
Extensions to the wings and a gymnasium were added in 1936-37. The new additions were opened to students in January 1938. The Mary Shoemaker School, a new offsite elementary school, opened in 1956. The high school, which occupied the top floor of this building,
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now shared the building with just the middle school. Subsequent additions included a separate middle school building (1956) and a new gymnasium (1983). At this time, the old gym was converted into classrooms and library space. Extensive renovations to this complex began in 2013.

Woodstown Public School Photo c 1918
This is a distant view from the approximate location of the junctions of West Wilson Avenue and Macaltioner Avenue shortly after the school was completed.

Bacon Academy Photo c 1905
David Bacon, a local Quaker, designated funds in his Will for the purchase of land and building a school. It opened in 1841-42 and remained open as a private school until 1905 when the Woodstown-Pilesgrove School District began renting it for use as a high school. This building served as the community's high school from 1905 until the new public school opened in 1916.
 
Erected 2012 by Salem County, New Jersey; New Jersey Historical Commission.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraEducation. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #29 Warren G. Harding, and the Quakerism series lists.
 
Location. 39° 39.08′ N, 75° 19.286′ W. Marker is in Woodstown, New Jersey, in Salem County. Marker is at the intersection of East Avenue (U.S. 40) and School Lane, on the left when traveling west on East Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 136 East Ave, Woodstown NJ 08098, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. School Bell (here, next to this marker); Center of Town (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Old Red House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fire Ring (approx. half a mile away); County Bridges (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Fire Ring (approx. 0.6 miles away); World Wars I & II Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); Spc. Richard C. Emmons III (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Woodstown.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 4, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 27, 2020. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Last updated on October 4, 2020, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 27, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
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Oct. 25, 2020