Freeman School

Three years after the city of North Adams built Johnson, Brayton and Houghton Schools, it was deemed necessary by the school committee to expand yet again when it voted to build Freeman School on the corner of Estes and Eagle Streets. Estes Street would be renamed Hospital Avenue at a later date.

At the time, it was the largest school built to date. It was a two-story building with a large hall for assemblies built on top. The front and back steps were made from local marble and the exterior was made with native brick and unfading Vermont green slate was used for the roof. The cost to build the school totaled $62,745.58.

The Freeman School opened with 516 students ranging from kindergarten to the 9th grade. This is how they were divided: grade 9 (38 students), grade 8 (41 students), grade 7 (48 students), grade 6 (36 students), grade 5 (49 students), grade 4 was divided into two rooms (80 students), grade 3 (50 students), grade 2, (56 students), grade 1 (60 students) and kindergarten (58 students). Its first principal was Lily E. Blanchard whose salary was $20.00 per week.

All that is left in 2016 is a granite boulder which is barely noticeable to folks passing by. On the boulder is a plaque memorializing Rose Sherry, a once loved principal of Freeman School, who passed away on July 23, 1926. Miss Sherry lived in her family home on Franklin Street and she became principal after Miss Blanchard stepped down. On the day of the plaque’s dedication, the entire student body and all of the faulty stood outside for the ceremony.

As time went on a playground was added with swings, see-saws, a merry-go-round, a ball field and, in the winter, a skating rink with a warming hut. I sprained my left ankle three times at that rink. As you can guess, I never learned to skate properly.

By the time I became a student at Freeman, the large hall on the third floor had been condemned so I never got to see what it looked like. While I was there from 1st grade through 5th grade, it was an elementary school. With the new East School, later renamed Sullivan, Freeman became a Junior High.