In 1906, the Town of Woodbridge owned 8 parcels of land along the north side of Lucy Street with the intention of building a school. On September 18, 1911, a large one room wood frame building opened with twenty-seven pupils, and was named “The Southeast School”. Within three years a population growth necessitated additional parcels be purchased for a new and larger school. The next year, 1915, a two room brick structure was built adjacent to the original one room building. The new school was named William H. Warner School in honor of the man who served as “School Visitor” since 1879 and was instrumental in establishing the new school in the “Southeast District.”
By the fall of 1923, two more rooms had been added to Warner School, and until June 1954 each room held two grades, first through eighth, two grades to a room, same teacher all year. In September 1955, with the opening of Amity High School, the seventh and eighth grades at Warner School became students at Amity High, and first through sixth grades remained at Warner.
The rooms were spacious with tall ceilings and the basement held the lunchroom, girls and boys’ rooms, a tiny library and a boiler room with the janitor’s quarters. I feel fortunate to have attended Warner School from first to sixth grades. It was one of the last of the old style government standard brick schools which were built across the country between 1910 and 1930. Some of these schools are still in use after being remodeled, but most are now gone. My mother, her sister and both her brothers were among the first generation of students to attend Warner School in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
In the fall of 1955, the Southeast School (we called it the “Little School”) was re-opened for kindergarten and after Warner School closed, the town rented the building to Henry Parker, former New Haven mayor for the Mother Goose Day Care Center. In 1980, the building was razed to make way for the present day Senior Housing Complex, and in the summer of 1983, the “Little School” was disassembled into numbered sections, and put in storage in the barn across from the Darling House on Litchfield Turnpike. Hopefully, it will be re-assembled at some point in the future.An article in the New Haven Register dated June 26, 1960 reads in part, “in 1937 the first public kindergarten in town was established in the one room frame building (Southeast School). From 1950 to 1955 the kindergarten aged children were transported to the center school.” I was among those kindergartners, in 1953, who took that bus ride from Warner School to Center School in the morning, and from Center School to our homes after a half day session.
Our fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Mae Bassett, always had an attention getting story to tell the class about one thing or another. Subjects included memorable snowstorms, outer space, the glacier, the Hurricane of 1938, the Leatherman, Indian Joe and a lost buried time capsule which rested four feet under one of the two giant trees on the school playground.
She explained to the class that on Arbor Day in 1926, the students at Warner School planted two trees on the playground. One tree was a sugar maple which still stands at eighty feet in height. The second tree, planted out fifty feet from the maple was a cottonwood, which was over one hundred feet tall in 2014 when it was deemed a hazard. So it was cut and removed from the courtyard of the present day Woodbridge senior housing units. It left a ground level stump measuring seventy-five inches across.
The planting of trees by grammar school students across the country on Arbor Day was a popular event during the 1920s and the 1930s. Sometimes, a small box would be buried under the tree to serve as a time capsule. The contents usually were a newspaper, a list with the names of the students, small toys and always some coins – usually pennies. To some of us boys, the coins upgraded the box’s contents to buried treasure. Mrs. Bassett explained that the time capsule was buried under one of the trees to prevent future looting. Just which tree was uncertain to her. This being said, removed all hopes of retrieval, as both trees were already taller than telephone poles at that time. I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid to give a lot of thought to that buried box and its contents, and I still give it a thought once in a while. https://westrivervalley.wordpress.com/warner-school-memories/
By Simon Donato