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In the School-house on BEDFORD STREET, erected in 1843–4, for the Latin and English High Schools, the former is accommodated in the Hall H, and Class-rooms, C, C, C, C, on the left side, and the latter in the Hall and Classrooms on the other side.
PLANS OF Boston GRAMMAR SCHOOL-HOUSES.
BY HON. JOHN D. PHILBRICK, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Before describing our latest school edifice (the Norcross Grammar School-house, in South Boston, completed and dedicated March 10, 1868), which embodies in design, construction, and equipment, sereral excellent features, not found in any one of its predecessors, it may be desirable to note the successive modifications which have been introduced into buildings for this class of schools.
The Boston Grammar School-house of forty years ago, was a two story edifice, each story containing one hall or school-room, with seats for about one hundred and eighty pupils. These halls were wholly destitute of such appendages or conveniences as recitation rooms, clothes-rooms, closets, and blackboards. In each of these large rooms there were usually three teachers, and their recitations had to be carried on at the same time, while the pupils not occupied in reciting were expected to close their ears to the surrounding din, and attend to their tasks. Of this type was the old Mayhew School-house, which continued to be occupied until 1846.
The first modification of this type consisted chiefly in the addition of a third story, the two upper stories being appropriated to the two halls as before, and the lower story to a ward-room or to Primary Schools. An illustration of this modified type is found in the Wells School-house, a cut of which Mr. Mann introduced into his Report on Schoul-houses, as the best City Grammar School-house in 1838. It was subsequently remodelled, and is just now being replaced by a structure of the Norcross type. There was, of course, some improvement in respect to style of finishing and furnishing, but no new feature of importance added. The first important steps of progress consisted in the addition of two recitation rooms of moderate dimensions to each of the two large school-rooms or halls. This was instituted about the year 1840, and from this time until 1848, the recitation rooms were embraced in all the plans for new buildings, and most of the old buildings were enlarged for the purpose of securing these much needed conveniences. The Brimmer Schoolhouse, erected in 1843, was an example of this improvement. Recently it has been remodelled and enlarged.
In 1848, the Quincy School-house was erected, a description of which is contained in Barnard's School Architecture. This building was not, properly speaking, a modification of what had preceded it, either here or elsewhere. It was a new type. Its main features were these.
1. It was large. Up to this time, a Grammar School containing four hundred pupils was considered very large. This building had six hundred and sixty seats in its school-rooms, exclusive of the hall.
2. It contained a separate school-room for each teacher, twelve in all, and, of course, recitation rooms were not needed.
3. It contained a hall large enough to seat comfortably, all the pupils that could be accommodated in the school-rooms, and even more. 4. It contained a clothes-room attached to each school-room, through which the pupils passed in entering and leaving their respective rooms.
5. It contained a separate desk and chair for each pupil. This was probably the first Grammar School-house into which this feature was introduced.
All the Grammar School-houses which have been built in this city during the past twenty years, have been of this type. Modifications more or less important have from time to time been introduced, but the type has not been changed. The chief modification of this type which has been made in the plans of the buildings erected during the past fifteen years, consisted in increasing the number of school-rooms to fourteen by cutting off about two-fifths of the size of the hall for this purpose. This modification, so far from being an improvement, was undoubtedly a retrograde step. The rooms thus gained were too near the sky for ordinary school purposes, the hall was rendered too small in proportion to the size of the school, and the number of schoolrooms was too great for a single Grammar School, containing one series of grades. The Prescott Grammar School-house, erected two years ago, a description of which may be found in Barnard's Journal of Education, Vol. XVI., is an improvement on the modified Quincy type which had been in vogue for some years, inasmuch as it is only three stories high, and has a sufficiently spacious hall. It is a noble edifice, but it is too large, having sixteen school-rooms, and the plan is more costly in proportion to the accommodations than that of any other building which has been built in this city.
The Superintendent of Schools, in a report submitted to the School Board in 1867, set forth his objections to the buildings which he calls modifications of the Quincy type, and advocated the adoption of a plan for a Grammar School-house, as a model or standard, which should provide for only three stories, and only ten school rooms, with a hall spacious enough to seat comfortably all the pupils that the ten school-rooms would accommodate.
In determining the plan of the Norcross building, the Superintendent's recommendation was considered, but not adopted in full. The Committee on Public Buildings of the City Council who really had all the power to decide what the plan should be, concluded to adopt a plan which may be called a compromise between that of the modified Quincy and that recommended by the Superintendent. The improvements on the Quincy type consist in its architectural character, in its style of finish, in its heating and ventilating apparatus, and in some minor details, especially for security against fire.
[Before giving Mr. Philbrick's description of the Norcross Schoolhouse, we will introduce the plans of the houses above referred to, with descriptions written at the time of their completion, to mark the successive modifications of this class of houses, together with statistics and remarks in the dedicatory exercises, to show the interest taken in their Public Schools by the most eminent citizens of Boston. H. B.]
SCHOOL-HOUSES CONVERTED INTO MONUMENTS OF PUBLIC SERVICE. The practice begins to prevail of distinguishing the public schools of different localities of the same city by naming them after individuals who may happen to hold office at the time of instituting the school, or erecting the building, or, which we deem far better, after some of those noble men who, in the infancy of the state, laid the foundations of its prosperity by providing for the education of the whole people. In no way can their names pass so universally into the household words of a community. We select two beautiful instances of well-deserved commemoration of this kind.
WINTHROP SCHOOL-HOUSE, BOSTON. The spacious, commodious, and elegant school-house recently erected in Boston, at an expense, including the site, of $90,000, was dedicated with appropriate exercises, and called after the name of the first Governor of Massachusetts,the WINTHROP SCHOOL-HOUSE. Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, a lineal and worthy descendant of John Winthrop, made an address on the occasion, substantially as follows: I need not say that I have felt something more than a common interest in this
As a mere citizen of Boston, born upon her soil, educated in her public schools, and bound to her by a thousand ties of affection and gratitude, which no time can sever, I should, indeed, have found abundant reason for gratification and for pride in seeing her engaged, in the person of her chief magistrate, in dedicating so spacious and noble an edifice to the cause of popular education. As a humble but sincere friend to free government and republican liberty, too, I could not have failed to rejoice at beholding another buttress added to the bulwarks which are to save them from overthrow and downfall. For, my friends, it cannot be too often repeated, trite and common-place as it may sound, that these free institutions of ours can rest securely on no other basis than that of intelligence and virtue; and that intelligence and virtue can be disseminated and inculcated by no other agencies than the school and the church. Our school-houses and churches—these are the true towers and bulwarks of a republic, and the only standing army of freedom is that innumerable host of children who are in process of being trained up, in our sabbath schools and our week-day schools, in the fear of God, in the love of their neighbor, and in the elements of all useful knowledge and all sound learning.* It may well be a subject for joy, then, to every patriotic heart, and I hope mine is one,-to see our cities and towns vying with each other, not like those of the old world, in the sumptuousness of their private mansions, or the magnificence of their government balls, but in the elegance and spaciousness and completeness of their common school-houses.
But, my friends, it would be affectation in me to conceal that I have another and peculiar interest in this occasion. I am sure that I need feel no delicacy in speaking of the distinguished person in whose honor this school has been primarily named. Five entire generations have now intervened between him and myself. More than two hundred years, a long time in your little calendar, my young friends,—have passed away since he was laid beneath the sod in what is now King's Chapel Burying Ground, within a few feet of the City Hall, where a bumble tomb-stone may be seen, bearing the inscription “ John Winthrop, 1649." my relation to him, though direct, is thus almost too remote to subject anything I may say of him to the imputation of being dictated by any mere partiality or family pride. His name, too, is an historical name, upon which the judgment of the world has long ago been irrevocably pronounced.
Coming over here in 1630, as the leader and Governor of the Massachusetts
On another occasion Mr. Winthrop characterized our public schools thus: “ Other nations may boast of their magnificent gems and monster diamonds. Our Kohinoor is our Common School System. This is our "mountain of light,”-not spatched, indeed, as a prize from a barbarous foe, nor destined to deck a royal brow, or to irradiate a Crystal Palace, but whose pure and penetrating my illumines every brow, and enlightens every mind, and cheers every heart and every hearthstone in the land, and which supplies, from its exhaustless mines, a ornaments of grace unto che head, and chains upon the neck of every son and daughter of Massachusetts."