What goes up must come down. The forces of time and gravity will have their way in spite of us. So it is that on the Mansfield University campus another old landmark has reached the end of its days.
Back in 1920, the idea of a junior high school was an innovation. For the education and experience of future secondary level teachers, Mansfield's ninth graders were removed from the high school and installed on the first floor of Alumni Hall at the Mansfield State Normal School, now Mansfield University. The following year, the seventh and eighth graders from the campus's Model School, the campus elementary school also for teacher training, were brought in to join them.
In the fall of 1927, the same year that the Normal School became Mansfield State Teachers College, the junior high building was erected on a terraced hillside at the then eastern edge of the campus. It had a student population of 150 in 1928. New programs included vocational education in addition to the existing academic curriculum. Athletics and extra-curricular activities were also among the new ideas put into practice. It was considered unique in its dual function of educating both the youngsters of the town as well as young teachers. Eventually, seventh and eighth grades from Mainesburg and Roseville were brought in by bus.
Dr. Myron Webster was the first principal. Senior teachers in the campus junior high were called supervisors for their dual roles. They taught the young students and also supervised the practice teaching of the college students. Miss Jessie Grigsby succeeded Dr. Webster. Dr. Richard Wilson served in that role, and Dr. Mildred Menge was the last principal when the school graduated its 33nd and final class in 1959.
In the fall of 1959, the junior high classes were relocated to the combined junior-senior high in the expanded facility still in operation on Wellsboro Street. The 1927 building was converted for college classes. The gym became a theater, and the building was named East Hall. Later the name Allen Hall was applied to it in honor of Professor Fordyce Allen, an early normal school principal and developer of teacher training in the nineteenth century.
I was in a college class in that converted building when, on that sad and sunny November day, all the church bells in town tolled for John F. Kennedy.
In its 83rd year, the old "Hillside Penitentiary," so named by two generations of Mansfield's children, is to be replaced by a new, modern, and larger facility under construction beside it. The new Allen Hall will serve the same function as before: theater, TV studio and film editing, art and classrooms.
It is a sad farewell for many in Mansfield, but time claims its due.
by Joyce M. Tice
Many of the photos we have of the building and classrooms have come from yearbooks of the college.