When the old school was built in 1890, it was called the Church Street School. The name was changed to Mark Hopkins sometime between 1896 and 1897. It cost $20,500 to build under the direction of the superintendent of schools Anson D. Miner. The first teachers to preside over the classrooms were Imogene Tower, Room 1; Dora Barber, Room 2; Margaret Collins, Room 3; Maude MacDonald, Room 4; Beulah Briggs, Room 5; Cora Bratton, Room 6; Sarah T. Haskins, Room 7. The average number of students in any one classroom was 41.
The old school suited the needs of the area community until the mid-1930’s when it was deemed that a new, more modern building should take its place. It was on December 12, 1940 that ground was broken on the opposite corner from the old school. It was completed on January 3, 1940 at a cost of $218,614.40. Students and teachers kept using the old school through January 3rd of that year.
As one teacher remembered, “The old Mark Hopkins school was still in service today as the pupils and teachers waited anxiously for the beginning of classes in the new building which they will move tomorrow and Friday.”
Each class was introduced to their new surroundings a little at a time as they were shown the exits doors, where to put their belongings, where the library was and where the “sanitaries” were.
On January 4, 1940, the new Mark Hopkins was officially christened when classes were held there for the first time. A short speech was given by the Superintendent of Schools John F. McGrory to commemorated the occasion.
Discussion began about what to do with the old school and a few possibilities were tossed about. In January of 1940, Mayor Francis J. O’Hara suggested the Society of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) move from their quarters on Holden Street to the old school building for the purpose of allowing the North Adams Police Department to move into the G.A.R. Hall for a much needed police station. Other suggestions were to sell the building to a private enterprise so that it could be used as an apartment building. In April of 1940, the city council voted against selling the building, basically because they couldn’t decide on a selling price. About a year later, with no viable offers available and the G.A.R. unwilling to move, the old school building was torn down. Bricks from the old school were used to build several houses near where the college is.
In 1967, North Adams State Teacher’s College acquired Mark Hopkins school as a teaching platform for student teachers. This arrangement between the state school and Mark Hopkins worked well until the early 1980’s when school enrollment began to decrease and the state began to look for ways to save money. And so it was, in 1983, it was decided to close the school. June 14, 1983 marked the last school day. After a combination of 93 years, Mark Hopkins School ended its reign as a public elementary school on Church Street.