Flower Hill School #2
by Christopher Bain
Picture the Port Washington Police Department’s building on Port Washington Boulevard. Here it is, almost new, in the 1950's.
What about Flower Hill School #1?
Now picture that spot almost 150 years earlier.
It’s 1869, just four years after Civil War ended. Just a few years earlier, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer fatally assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater, just 5 weeks after Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address.
250 miles north of Washington, D.C., the little village of Cow Neck had recently changed its name to Port Washington. Although the town was growing, there were fewer than 750 people, most of them involved in shell fishing or the brand new industry of sand mining.
This area was often referred to as Up-Neck, as opposed to the area north of Baxter Homestead, which was Down-Neck, with the "Down-Neck School" over-looking the Mill Pond. By 1869 the Up-Neckers needed a school of their own, and so property was purchased from the Onderdonk family who had extensive land holdings in town. By summer’s end, a new two-room schoolhouse was built, and named the Flower Hill School.
By the end of the century, several additional rooms and a second floor had been added, to accommodate Port Washington’s population, which had reached 1200. By 1908 Port boasted three schools, the down neck Sands Point School overlooking the Mill Pond, and the new Main Street School, and this Flower Hill School.
Sadly, after more than five decades of educating the youth of town, the beautiful little Flower Hill schoolhouse succumbed to an accidental fire. According to school superintendent Paul D. Schreiber, the janitor, William Allen, had been burning refuse when the fire got out of control and ignited some nearby kerosene. The fire quickly spread and burned the building beyond repair on June 24th, 1924.
The school had served several generations of school children for 55 years.
By the way, the term “Flower Hill” first appeared on local maps as the name of the cemetery behind the Post Office, usually referred to as the Monfort Cemetery. [The third Flower Hill School was on today’s Campus Drive, but that’s a story for another day.]