Belleville Union Academy

From Jefferson County NY Wiki

More info needed.

Bellville Union Acadamy 1880.jpg

The first school in Belleville was held in a blacksmith shop in 1805. In 1807 a log school-house was built with a roof of elm bark and dirt floors.

History from 1950 school yearbook The Tower

"When he saw the log school house, Joshua Bradley extorted the people to build a school building which would be more worthy of their high aspirations which brought them to this area. It was to be called “Union Academy” because it was never to be ruled by any sect or church domination. It was to belong to all of the people.

"Giles Hall gave the land, about six acres. Elder Kennedy offered to hew the timbers. The Hungerfords offered lime from their kiln. The services of the Boomer’s oxen were donated to draw the lime. The Overtons promised the use of their teams. Mosley Wood was to make the foundation. The Martins and the Reeds would do the carpentry work. The Cooks and Scotts were to assist the masons in building the walls. The Warriners, Salisburys and Stanleys chose to shave out the shingles during long winter evenings.

"The Robbins and the Eveleighs were to nail the shingles to the roof. The people from Bishop Street made the nails. A gift of $100.00 from Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the great Napoleon was received. While the building was being built, classes were held in the upper part of the Baptist Church. Everyone contributed according to his ability and means.

"On April 13, 1826, an act of incorporation was obtained from the Legislature. The building was completed during the year 1826, and was dedicated on January 1, 1827. On January 5, 1828, it was received under a visitation of the regents on appreciation of the trustees.

"Charles Avery was the first Principal. He began service in 1829. Through the prosecution of an action to foreclose against the property in the fall of 1837 the school was closed but the trustees, with the help of Jebediah Burchard raised funds sufficient to cancel the indebtedness. The school was re-opened with J.G. King as principal in 1840.

"When Mr. King resigned in 1843, Richard Ellis became principal. He was followed by Calvin Littlefield in 1845. Mr. Ellis was again head of the school in 1848. The building became in adequate for the larger number of new pupils coming continually and a new structure was constructed in front of and adjoining the old stone school. This addition cost approximately $4000. It was ready for use in October 1857, Mr. J. Dunbar Houghton, principal. He and his family moved into the wooden structure which was provided with a suite or rooming space for him and his family, teachers and a number of pupils.

"All went well and the school prospered until the time of the Civil War when a number of the faculty and a large number of the pupils enlisted, and only with great effort did the school continue to the end of the period. In 1852 there were 188 pupils; 1862--266 pupils and in 1866 there were 342.

"Mrs. William Mather and Mrs. George Mather endowed the Academy with $10,000 for the establishment of a course in Agriculture, 1901, the first in any secondary school in the United States. The School Park was donated by Mr. Fredrick Williams.

"The wooden portion of Union Academy was remodeled in 1918. On January 29th, 1923, the entire set of buildings was burned to the ground with a total loss.

"While the ashes of the old Union Academy were still hot and the embers glowed in the wreckage, the people, almost as if speechless, began to think of the building that should take its place.

"The spirit which founded her and stood by her so long, was still alive in the hearts of the people. They were determined to struggle for a new school. While the trustees of the school made plans for rebuilding, classes were conducted in churches and in the Overton Block on the corner. The pledge of seventeen thousand dollars was responded to by the people so quickly it was possible to engage an architect and a builder. By the sixth of September, 1924, the beautiful building was completed.

"The new home of Union Academy was 80 feet wide, and 120 feet in length. It was built at a cost of approximately $150,000. Of this sum, $50,000 came from popular subscriptions, $20,000 from insurance and $10,000 from members of the $10,000 Club, each member giving $1,000. An additional $25,000 was raised later to complete payment on the building.

The centennial celebration in June 1925 attracted a crowd of 2500 people. The pageant celebrated the days of its founding up to that time. A more beautiful spectacle has seldom, if ever, been witnessed.

"The Union Academy did very well in its new home until in 1931 when there was a change in the regular program of the school. In the spring of 1931 the people voted to centralize the thirteen outlying school districts.

"In 1935, due to the increase in the number of pupils, an addition was made to the school consisting of rooms for grades 1-5 and a regulation sized gymnasium with a large seating capacity. The State paid one-fourth of the cost of the building. At the same time some remodeling was done on the older part of the school, including the installation of lockers and a change in the auditorium.

"It was necessary, also to move the bell-tower from it’s former location to the entrance to Williams Park, where it will always remain to keep us in mind of the beautiful past it has known.

"In 1937 completions were made on the school garage for the purpose of housing and repairing the buses. The garage holds ten buses and is well equipped to care for them."

Historic Structures in Jefferson County