BACK WHEN — Pictured is the Blasdell High School on Arthur Avenue, circa 1894. Photo is from the historian’s files.
BLASDELL — Shown here is the first Blasdell High School, after construction in the fall of 1894. The building was later demolished, to make way for a second addition to the school along Madison Avenue, constructed in 1925.
At the time, the area around the building, between Arthur and Madison avenue, had few houses. Today, many homes line both streets, from South Park Avenue to the railroad tracks in the village.
This school building was actually the second to be built in Blasdell and was the result of an increase in population in the village during the last two decades of the 19th century. The first village school was constructed about half a mile away, on Mile Strip Road (Maple Avenue), between Martin Avenue and the railroad tracks, in 1843.
At the time, that area was the most heavily populated part of a growing village. As the community expanded to the north, however, the location of a new school on Arthur Avenue seemed a wise choice, because it was more centrally located.
The Mile Strip Road building was a simple, all-wooden, one-room school that was very similar to other schools constructed around the town at that time; it housed all grades.
As the story goes, in September 1894, boys and girls, led by their teachers, met as usual in the old building for a formal program of farewell. They then marched down to their new Arthur Avenue school, carrying their books and a dilapidated dictionary.
Looking at the village today makes you wonder what route they took. The streets were nothing but dirt and the sidewalks, if there were any, were made of wood. Perhaps they simply cut across the empty lots.
When they arrived at the new building, they were excited to find a large, four-room, all-wooden structure that would become the first Blasdell High School. It was certainly a far cry from the tiny building that had served as the Mile Strip Road school.
This move was just the beginning of the changes in school buildings for the children of Blasdell. During the next 30 years, due to another surge in village population, two additions would be made to the Blasdell school.
In 1911, a brick addition facing Arthur Avenue was added to the front of the original wooden building seen in the photo; in 1925, another all-brick addition was placed along Madison Avenue.
This second addition included second floor classrooms, with additional rooms and a combination gymnasium/auditorium on the ground floor. This completed building would serve Blasdell students in all 12 grades until 1951, when district residents approved a centralized plan that created the Frontier Central School System.
The new school district then opened the new Frontier Junior-Senior High School on Bay View Road in 1955.
The old Blasdell building continued to serve as a junior high school until 1965, when the district’s brand-new Amsdell Junior High School was opened on Amsdell Road; it was then an elementary school until 1993, when it was closed and later sold.
The structure still stands today between Arthur and Madison avenues, and is now home to a People Inc. senior residence.
A historic marker on the northeast corner of the Salisbury/Madison Avenue intersection was erected by the Hamburg Historical Society in 1998, to mark the site.This column is written by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.
Individuals who would like to submit photographs and/or materials may call Baker at the Hamburg Town Hall between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays, at 649-6111 ext. 2400. Readers may also provide feedback by mailing correspondences to The Sun at 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.