The History of Durand Eastman Intermediate School
As told by:
Arlington Swartz, DE Principal 1924 – 1952
Edward Paxon, DE Principal 1952 - 1958
The earliest root of public school education in this area comes from a little frame house built near Culver and Seneca Roads in 1835. This apparently served as a school for several years and later was torn down. It was said to be part of the farm belonging to the Evershed brothers.
In 1843, District No. 5, as it was know until we centralized in the year 1957, was organized. In 1844, the taxpayers voted to purchase a schoolhouse site on Culver Road – a few roads south of the cemetery. The cost of the building, 15’ by 24’ was to be $200; the land $20. The following year authorization was given the Board to purchase the land and an increase in the size of the building was voted. It was to measure 20’ by 26’ and the cost was $225. Originally, it was to be built of stone, but later this plan was changed to frame construction. In 1892 a one-room brick school, which could accommodate thirty-five pupils, took the place of the frame structure.
Unfortunately, the records of these early school years are few and meager. It is known that parents had to supply one-half cord of stove wood for each child in school. It is also know that there was both a winter and summer term. A male teacher was preferred for the winter season and a female teacher for the summer session. Most details of who these people were and how they lived, thought, worked and died is forever lost to us.
In 1914 the one-room school was discontinued and a two-room structure was built in the present location. This could accommodate seventy-five children. However, the opening of Durand-Eastman Park and the permanent settlement in the vicinity of many summer people made another addition necessary in 1915. In the next ten years, the school population increased by five hundred per cent, which necessitated three more additions.
In 1906 the Durand-Eastman School Social Center was organized. This comprised a group of parents, teachers, and other community members who worked cooperatively together to increase the interest of the community members in the education and welfare of their children and to have a good time. That it succeeded may be seen from their record and the membership, which began with just a few names and grew to about two hundred fifty members. This group, the forerunner of our P.T.A., worked with a spirit seldom found in rural districts. They arranged motion pictures, picnics, minstrel shows, dances, and many other types of entertainment. Meeting at least once a month, they planned and achieved projects such as purchasing gymnasium equipment and installing a school kitchen. Their friendliness and good fellowship are still remembered by all who attended their activities.
Durand-Eastman has always been a leader in new ideas and progress. It sponsored the first nutrition course in the area. It was among the first to provide noon lunches for the children. Here, in 1917, the Junior Red Cross began its work. Later, in 1938, the first annual musical festival was held to stimulate the enjoyment and appreciation of music.
There have been three school newspapers which have run successfully for a time. Leafing through old Bay-Side Beacons and Reflectors, one immediately notices the wide variety of activities and interests displayed by both pupils and teachers. Many of the items were written by children who have become some of our most active parent workers.
The Durand-Eastman School library was begun in the early 1920’s and the first library was a room that also was used by a dental hygienist. The original librarian also taught a regular class.
An instrumental music program was started in about 1924 under the sponsorship of the Social Center members who contributed money for purchasing instruments. After the original enthusiasm wore off, the principal had to send a letter home to the parents reminding them to make the children practice more! In 1938 the orchestra won a first prize in a competition concert.
The auditorium was first used in September 1926. The kindergarten rooms were built in (annex area) 1951; and the Arlington Swarts Wing which comprised the first and second grade classrooms, cafeteria, library, band room and office area was dedicated on January 11, 1953.
The first gym demonstration program was given in 1944.
The fall of 1957 brought about centralization and more changes in our school; only one seventh grade classroom was available so the remaining seventh graders began an early attendance at what was to be Ridgewood Junior High School. The last class to enter Benjamin Franklin High School had just one year there before returning as sophomores to our own Eastridge High School. The last eighth grade graduation ceremony at Durand-Eastman School with its traditional ceremonies, special honor awards, presentation of diplomas, school flower and singing of the school song (which was written and first sung in 1924) passed into history.
Written by: Edward Paxon, DE Principal 1952 - 1958
The following materials are from the minutes of the Boards of Trustees of Durand-Eastman School. You will notice that the records only indicate when the building were authorized, or to be more exact when the money was authorized.
Original Building on the present site. Authorization for $8,000 for the building and $2,000 for the land. (Two acres). This was a two-room school. May of 1914
Addition number one came on October 5, 1915. A special meeting authorized an expenditure of 9,000 dollars.
Apparently this included four classrooms and a large room that doubled as a gymnasium and an auditorium. The construction of this second floor completed that part of the building that we now call the West Wing.
More land was added to the school site as a result of the annual meeting of May 2, 1922. This added two more acres to the school site.
Addition number three was approved on May 7, 1925. This voted a bond issue of $100,000. This addition included six classrooms, and auditorium seating approximately 800, offices, and the change in the West Wing from auditorium to two classrooms. Still more land was purchased as nine building lots facing Aragon Avenue were bought for $4,000. This purchase rounded out the present building site.
Addition number four was approved on May 5, 1936 when the people approved the expenditure of $36,000 for the construction of a gymnasium; shower rooms, locker rooms and office are included.
Addition number five provided for the construction of the separate building that now houses our kindergartens. This was authorized on May 2, 1950. Children moved into this building in January of 1951. An interesting fact is that this addition was not financed thru a bond issue, but paid out of the current budget. The cost was $34,2234.50. There are two rooms in the building.
Addition number six was first mentioned to the public at the annual meeting above. At that time Mr. Leonard Muhs told the public that such an addition would be necessary. On April 16, 1951 approval was voted of a bond issue for $557,000 for the construction of the present Swarts Wing. This has nine self-contained classrooms, cafeteria, kitchen, music room, library, medical suite, administrative offices, and boiler room. Dedication of this Wing was on January 11, 1953.