History of the Smithfield Schools
From 1961 Smithsonian Yearbook of S.R.U. Highschool
Information for this came from Miss Harriet Child, Mr. E.S. Blakeslee and Mr. Harvey Jones
The first schoolhouse, and for many years the only one in Smithfield Township, was a log building constructed in 1806. It stood at the foot of Mitchell’s Hill, (now known as Pease Hill) east of the village and on the south side of the road. The first teacher was Ephriam B., son of Jabez Gerould, who came into the town from Connecticut in 1801. School was taught here for several years, the teachers being paid in labor by those who hired them.
The first frame building for school purposes was built in 1818. This was on a low spot of ground just east of the present brick house now owned by Dr. S. B. Fleagle. About 1830 this building was moved a short distance to the east and adjoined the Smithfield Burlington Road. It later burned and a building was then erected on the corner southeast of the present Smithfield Grange Hall. This was used for the schoolhouse until 1871.
In 1870, three of the school districts were consolidated, and plans were laid to construct a new building suitable to accommodate the pupils in these districts. The following summer the schoolhouse was erected south of the village on part of the present school site. The total cost of constructing this four-room two-story building was $3400. Around 1913, the enrollment increased so that it became necessary to add four rooms to the East Side of the building. The entire building was stuccoed at this time. The second story housed the high school students and the downstairs the elementary students.
In 1850, a hall was erected on the ground known as the “Old Academy Lot” (now owned by Robert Kellogg and Penelec) by the Sons of Temperance who occupied the second floor as a lodge room and rented the lower floor for school purposes. The first teacher in the Academy was Samuel D. Evans.
At one time while Rev. C. C. Corss was the minister in town, there were three schools in session in the village—a private school taught by Rev. Corss in the upper room of E. S. Tracey’s store, (now the residence of Mrs. Ruth Mitchell) a select school in the Academy, and the public school in the schoolhouse.
The school records show that in 1835 the state appropriation was $51.20 and the amount received from the county was $102.36. In 1912 the school appropiation, including a high school appropriation of $200 was nearly $2900. (In 1960 the total state appropriation to Smithfield Township was $113,259.67.)
The four-room building located on a part of the present site of the S.R.U. Joint School was in use from 1871 to 1913, and from two to four teachers were employed, depending upon the number of pupils in attendance. In the fall of 1892 a course of study was adopted in the school at Smithfield Center and a three-year high school was instituted. The first class consisted of seven students, and the first graduation was held in March 1894.
In 1936, this was extended to a four-year course. I new modern building consisting of ten classrooms and a gymnasium was erected on a site which included the original grounds and grounds to the west known as Phelps Grove. This land has been purchased by Dr. E. Cowell for the annual school picnic and later became a part of the present school grounds. This building housed the high school and all the elementary students in Smithfield Township.
During the school term 1952-53 a twelve classroom, two-story brick addition was added to the wooden structure to accommodate the increased enrollment in our area. The wooden structure and the downstairs of the brick building were occupied by the high school, and the six rooms upstairs in the brick building housed the 1st through 6th grades.
By 1960 the enrollment in the S.R.U. Jointure had increased so that it became necessary to enter into another building program. In the spring of 1960, construction began on a new ten-room elementary school for Smithfield Township. This was occupied in November 1960.
The portion of the brick building formerly occupied by the elementary grades became a part of the secondary school. In addition to this, construction was started on new shops, a new gymnasium, and a music room, as well as a complete alteration in the wooden building. The completed building will be ready for occupancy by September 1961.
Submitted by Pat Smith Raymond