Houghton School

The mid to late 1890’s was a banner time for the North Adams School System. Between 1896 and 1897, three new schools were built, Houghton, Brayton and Johnson Schools.

Houghton stood tall in the east end of the city on land purchased from the Arnold Print Works. The cost for the building, including land, construction, furniture and land grading, was $48,327.63. The school was named for Albert C. Houghton, the first mayor of North Adams. He was also the president of Arnold Print Works.

The school was built to hold 400 students from grades 1 through 7. Grades 6 & 7 (35 students) shared one room as did Grades 6 & 5 (35 students). Grade 3 was divided between Grades 2 and 4. One room held Grades 4 & 3 (38 students) while another had Grades 2 & 3 (34 students). Grade 1 was the largest class and it was divided into two separate rooms (83 students in all).

Four classrooms at Houghton School were used for evening classes. These classes began on November 1, 1896 and mostly used by immigrant adults trying to learn the language and ways of their new country.

The school flourished in the early part of the 20th century under the leadership of Principal Rose G. Sherry and teachers; Maude H. Sullivan, Anna Nolan, Mabel A. Tower, Annabel Jones, Eunice Butterworth, Anna Foley, Gertrude Orr, Ethel M. Winslow, Susan M. Cleghorn and Clara L. Parkhurst (1910). The PTA, known as the Houghton School Roundtable, would put on a minstrel once a year, a school Christmas Tree was put up every year and students learned their ABC’s
under stern guidance from the teachers.

With declining enrollment and a school building that was in need of many repairs, Houghton School closed its doors at the Christmas break in 1965. When school re-opened in January, students were bused to the new East School on Kemp Avenue. This school was later renamed Sullivan School.

Adapted from a story for the North Adams Historical Society.