Before there was a Manville, New Jersey, there was a section of Hillsborough Township tucked away in its northwest corner known as Harmony Plains. Like nearly all of Hillsborough in the 1800s, Harmony Plains was farmland, and the farmers in that section sent their children to a two-room schoolhouse on what is now Manville's Main Street.
|Harmony Plains School District, 1873 map|
It was first called the Gravel Hill School, but by the middle of the century had changed its name to the Harmony Plains School. By the 1870s, the Harmony Plains District was one of more than a dozen in Hillsborough Township, each with their own one or two-room schoolhouse.
|Harmony Plains School circa 1900|
But the Harmony Plains name goes back even further, as evidenced by the detail from the 1850 Somerset County map shown below.
|Harmony Plains School 1850 map|
|Main Street School, Manville circa 1930s|
|Demolition of Main Street School, December 1984|
By that time a few of the school board members were from Manville, and they were able to form a coalition to push through an acceptable solution. Hillsborough agreed to add four rooms to Manville School 1, and build a completely new school, which became Roosevelt School. Hillsborough also used the opportunity to build a new school for themselves - but that is for a future post.
By the time the schools opened in 1929, Manville had seceded from Hillsborough and formed its own municipality. They didn't build another school in Manville until the high school was built 25 years later.