Port Schools

By Chris Bain

Here is an incomplete run-down of most of the schools that have served Port Washington, up until through World War II. More content is being assembled! Send us your thoughts and knowledge!

The town's first church and school were at the back of the Mill Pond, across from the Dodge Homestead, near the entrance to the new Mill Pond Acres.  Pleasant Avenue started between these two historic structures and ran up and over the hill.

01-First_Church_and_School-a m1911

Shown in its original location on the north side of School street, above the Mill Pond, this is the oldest known photograph of a school in Port Washington, probably taken about 1875.  It replaced the school at the bottom of Pleasant Avenue (shown above).  The structure is mostly still there, without the beautiful cuploa, though it is now a private two-family home on the south side of the street.  You can read this school's fascinating history in our Journal.


The little school house above was moved to make way for a larger school, as the town was growing at the turn of the 20th century.  The new school was often called the Down Neck School, and was later renamed the Sands Point school.  This image doesn't show the Mill Pond well, BUT does show Diwan (our Indian restaurant, formerly Gildo's, Winstons, and a dozen other names), in the lower right corner.  Also in the background are some early sandbanks, which stretched up past Sandy Hollow Road and which covered all of Soundview until that community was developed between 1960 and 1966.

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Here's another view of the school, looking directly across the Mill Pond.

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A close-up of the same school, shown in a beautifully hand colored postcard.

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Shown below, at the other end of town, the "Up-Neck" side, was our early Flower Hill school, on the site of the current Police Station.  To the right was the Onderdonk Farm, part of which was purchased for a cemetery in 1900 (now Nassau Knolls cemetery).

06-Flower Hill School-05

After the Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1898 the population began to grow rapidly, creating a need for a bigger central school.  This 1907 view shows Main Street school under construction, across the street from our current Public Library.  Note that the front of the school, the broad side on the right side of this photograph, faces South Washington Avenue, not Main Street.  This is the original building, before the 1917 expansion to come.


Opening Day ceremonies, September 1908.  This was the biggest event the town had seen since the coming of the railroad. A huge parade wound its way through town ending up at the wonderfully decorated school.  Other views in our archives showed many people in the crowd holding umbrellas to fend off the strong September sun.

08-Main Street School opening

Another view, from the corner of South Washington and Webster Avenue.  Note the right side of the building in this photograph (facing Webster) on the second floor:  Three windows, then a peaked window, then three more windows.   Got it?  Check out the next shot.


You can still see the three window, the peaked window, and three more windows, plus the rest of the tremendous expansion, completed in 1917,  brought on by the continued explosion of the population.  Thanks to a great many very dedicated people in this town, our history was preserved when this building was converted to Landmark On Main Street, with a booming theater program, a pre-school full of children learning, senior housing on the upper floors, a beautiful park, and much more.  Other individuals in town wanted to tear down the building and build a parking lot here.  Imagine a three story parking lot there today...


A very rare view, pre-extension, from the park side, showing a side of the building that can't be seen any longer, due to the 1917 expansion.  The fire house on South Washington can be seen in the lower left corner.


Finally, as the town's pre WWII expansion reached into Beacon Hill, Monfort Hills, the Park Section, and Port Washington Heights, another school was needed.  Flower Hill School and Weber were built to satisfy that need, which sufficed through WWII, until the now famous baby boom needed a great many grammer schools scattered around town, plus a new high school in 1953.  But those are stories for another day!

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