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Out of the Past from the Sept. 5 edition of The Sun

HAPPY GRADUATION — Pictured, from left: Paul Ludlow, David Haugh, Don Fredricksen, Jessie Pound, Carl Wappman, Jana Lou (nee Ferro) Wright, receiving her diploma, James Hustead, Principal Hildegarde Bagg (seated) and Jean Eggleston (at podium).
HAMBURG — Shown here are seven members of the 1951 eighth grade graduation class from the former Athol Spring’s Elementary School, as they prepared to receive their diploma from Board of Education Member William Miller.

It was the last graduation class from that school, before it became a part of the Frontier Central School system.

The building, located on Camp Road, still stands today, but it is now home to the Charles J. Sellers Insurance Company.

Principal Hildegarde Bagg started as a teacher at the school in 1931 and, for the next 25 years, she served as the district school’s “teacher/principal.”

Her first graduating class in 1931 had three students but, by 1954, after centralization, she had 26. In 1955, she was appointed principal of the newly-created Frontier Central System’s new Pinehurst Elementary School in Lake View. She passed away in 1977.

Other members of the small class were (not shown) Leroy Bartoo, Ethel Clarke, Mary Louise Coburn, Rosemary Floreno, Mary Eileen Howard, Marlene Johns, Francis Markovich, Elizabeth McLennan, Janette Schubert, Pauline Howard, Clara Lou Steenberg, Colleen Walk and Evelyn Zegler.

The Athol Springs Elementary School was located on old Camp Road, just a short distance from where Camp meets Route 5. The school district was one of several smaller districts that dotted the town before the movement toward centralization by both the Frontier and Hamburg Central School District’s in the early 1950s.

Beside Athol Springs, the Frontier District alone included former districts at Amsdell Road No. 9, Big Tree No. 7, Blasdell No. 8, Lake View No. 12, Shaleton No. 4, Wanakah No. 5 and Woodlawn No. 13.

The first Athol Springs school was a one-room building on the northeast corner of Big Tree Road and St. Francis Drive. The building was constructed circa 1900. The growth in district population 20 years later led to the need for a new building. As a result, a new school was constructed in 1920 and then, with Works Progress Administration money, it expanded in 1934.

For the next 40 years, the building served the children of the community. However, after it became a part of the Frontier system in 1951, the structure came to be considered too old and far too expensive to renovate.

With this in mind, the Frontier Board of Education decided to close the school in 1975. It was then rented to a weight lifting and health club business and then mothballed for a short period, before it was sold to the Charles Sellers Insurance Company in 1982.

Before moving in, the company replaced the roof, updated the electric service and installed new windows.

The company has retained the original appearance and historic integrity. The interior of the building is just as charming as the outside. Not all old schools with new owners in the town have fared as well.

This column is written by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.

Individuals’ wanting to submit photographs and/or materials can call Baker at the Hamburg Town Hall on either Wednesday or Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at 649-6111 ext. 2400.

Readers can also provide feedback by writing to The Sun and mailing correspondences to The Sun at 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.


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