Entry is updated version of chapter “Schools” from White Plains, New York: A City of Contrasts:
Though there were schools in White Plains (WP) as far back as the early 1700’s little is known about them. According to Renoda Hoffman in her book “Yesterday in WP,” there was a school in WP that was abandoned in 1738. A school building was designated on a map drawn by a soldier before the Battle of WP in 1776 on what was the Village St.
A school was recorded in the town’s minutes of 1788; the structure was located in the area across from where Nordstrom’s is today. The building was used till it was destroyed by fire in 1848. An unpublished source at the Library though states that the school was located in the Nordstrom location and was destroyed by fire in 1855. The school then rented space in a blacksmith shop on Wallace Pl till 1856 with the opening of the four room Court Street (elementary) School (across from the City’s jail).
In 1864, the Towns of Harrison and WP created the Union Free School District No 1. The Court Street School was expanded a number of times. In 1895, the high school with 4 grades was established at the Court St location. In 1898, two new grammar schools East View ( that John Rösch refers to school as East Side in his book Picturesque White Plains) and Fisher Hill opened both of which had 8 rooms. In 1903, Hillside School opened with 8 rooms (closing in 1942).
In 1908, WP annexed the Chatterton School (building now a residence might still exist but have not been able to identify it) on Washington Ave, which was part of the Battle Hill District of the Town of Greenburg School System. Chatterton School was rebuilt (possible in 1914) at the corner of Chatterton Ave. and Harmon St.
In 1909, a small 2 room school opened at Silver Lake Park in West Harrison.
The High School moved to its own building on Main St. in 1909 at cost of $250,000. The building was demolished decades later and was replaced with city’s first Macy’s Department Store of 1959. Macy’s now has a store in the Galleria Mall year.
In 1912, North Castle became part of the Union Free School District No 1. A 4 room school was constructed on N Broadway.
In 1914, Post Rd and Soundview School (8 rooms) was opened but not occupied till Feb 1915. and Battle Hill School at 65 McKinley opened with 9 rooms. Both Schools got additions in 1924 and added the Jr High levels.
After WP became a city in 1916, the Union Free School District No 1 dissolved and the city’s White Plains School District was formed. The two one room schools Rosedale and Ridgeway were added to district.
In 1917, Ferris Ave School opened with 10 rooms.
Mamaroneck Ave School opened in 1921 with 12 rooms. Additions were made in 1923 and in 1926 when the Jr High level was added. Jr High level was removed in 1933. Additions were added at a later decade but not sure of dates. A likely time was in the 1960’s during the Baby Boom. Today, the school houses grades K-5.
Battle Hill School added rooms in 1933 when it combined with the Chatterton Ave School with the Jr High level added. The building closed in 1973 and was later sold. The building was repurposed into a condominium, The Hill.
In 1924/5, East View School extended with the addition of the building pictured below on the left that was added for the Junior High level (grades 7-9). In 1930, the school was modernized and expanded with the classrooms pictured below on right. The original structure of 1898 was demolished. For a number of years the building was not used by students but was rented out to small companies. When the building was again used by the school district, it was called the Eastview Campus of WP Middle School. Starting in Sept. 2013, the school housed 6th graders.
George Washington School opened in 1926 at corner of N Broadway and Holland Ave. It moved to Orchard St on the former Price property with the Price house used for classes with grades 5-7. By 1927, the house was gone and the new building opened in 1928 (Orchard St) without the seventh graders who went to East View while the students from the N Broadway school were transferred in. Today the school houses grades K-5.
In 1928, the High School moved to 128 Grandview Avenue. Today this building is known as Highlands Middle School for grades 7-8. The present high school building at 550 N St opened in 1960 and has undergone many changes since then. It housed grades 10-12 till 1979 when the 9th grade was added.
Post Rd had added additions over the years to its original 1914 structure and in 1925 the school added the 9th grade and formed a Junior High (grades 7-9). Today’s K-5 Post Rd School is in a new structure that opened in 2009. The gym constructed in 1958 was renovated and remains attached to the new building.
The Rochambeau Building on Fisher Ave was opened in 1931 and the Fisher Hill School closed. The building now houses the Rochambeau Alternative HS (formerly known as Community School), Alternative Programs and Adult Education.
WP had two early schools in its southern section that were part of Union Free School District No 2 and then in 1916 part of the WP School District.
The first Rosedale School in WP at 171 West St in WP was used from about 1890 till 1953. The building dates from 1844 and was originally a Methodist Church. In 1953 when the school closed, its students were transferred to the newly built Ridgeway School (above) near the corner of Mamaroneck Ave and Ridgeway. The small school then became a private residence. WP did build another school that was named Rosedale School. It opened around 1959 (but not sure of exact date) at 30 Dellwood Rd but closed in 1979. In 1979, Solomon Schechter School was established in the former Rosedale School. Solomon Schechter bought the building in 1981.
The first one room Ridgeway school (donated by Israel Mott in 1847) was first used by local families (Mott, Horton, Purdy; Havilland). Then it was used till 1933 (according to Renoda Hoffman but in 1941 from another source). Girl Scouts used the building from 1948-1985. It is now part of a private residence at 408 Ridgeway.
The school district did open North St School in 1957 but closed the school in 1979. Since 1980, the building has housed the German School. In 1956, Education House housed the students for North St School when construction delays prevented it from opening on time.
Church St School opened in 1957 but for a number of years (1979-80’s) was closed and housed a pre-school. The school did reopen and even added a new addition.
Presently, White Plains has 5 elementary schools (k-5)- George Washington, Post Rd, Church St, Mamaroneck Ave, Ridgeway, two Middle Schools (6-8)- Highlands with grades 7 &8 and Eastview for grade 6, and White Plains High School (9-12). The district also has alternative programs and schools that include Rochambeau Alternative High School. School District also has programs and classes for adults.
WP’s first Board of Education office was on Hamilton Ave. Since 1955, the offices have been at 5 Homeside Lane in the former Charles Smithers mansion constructed in 1924. In 1935, the mansion was owned by Adolph Ochs, publisher of New York Times and his descendants till the school district acquired it.
The original part of the building located on the High School campus just north of the high school along North St that houses offices and meeting rooms was the former home of Henry C. Lomb, a musician, and the original structure dates back to 1920. There had been a similar structure once owned by JC Penney that was on the south side of the high school that was demolished with construction of the high school.
Over its history, WP has had a number of private schools. Many are no longer. In 1901, the Good Counsel Training School opened and in 1918 they began a high school. The Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel was established in 1922 and its buildings are in the center of the grounds. At the end of 2014-2015 school year, the high school closed and the elementary school moved to another location.
The private Windward School (established in 1926) now located on Windward Avenue dates from 1930. Archbishop Stepinac High School opened in 1948. Our Lady of Sorrows was established in 1957 ( the church was founded in 1929).
The buildings for St John’s Evangelist Parish School that closed in 2006 dates from 1930 and is still next to the church on Hamilton Ave. Alumni from the school have Facebook pages (St John The Evangelist Elementary School).
WP has had a number of higher education schools (vocational/ academic) over its history. While some of those institutions don’t exist today, it still has a number of higher educational schools.