27 April 2017

The Mountain School

In the spring of 1929, with work nearing completion on the new four-room Bloomingdale School, the Hillsborough Township Board of Education decided to dispose at auction of three one-room schoolhouses - Blackwell's Mills, Hillsborough (Crossroads), and Montgomery (Montgomery Rd.). Notably absent from the list was one of the oldest schools in Hillsborough, the Mountain School.


The Mountain School on Longhill Road, circa 1932

Built in 1825 deep in the woods of the Sourland Mountain along Longhill Road, the century-old school - also known as the Boozer School because of its proximity to the old Boozer earthenware factory -  had just ten pupils in 1929. Edgar Durling was the master that year, as he had been for more than twenty years, in a schoolhouse that seemed frozen in the 19th century - no electricity, no running water, no school buses lined up at dismissal.



Portion of 1850 Somerset County map showing the location of the Mountain School

With the four-room Flagtown School, and now the new Bloomingdale School, Hillsborough was moving away from the era of the one and two-room rural schoolhouse. The Mountain School survived in 1929 because of poor road conditions and no good way to transport the students to other schools "down the valley".


Courier News 29 June, 1932

Circumstances were vastly different three years later when the board voted to close the Mountain School and transport the remaining students in new school buses over improved roads to Clover Hill and Neshanic. The kindergarten through eighth grade students had a party on the last day, June 17, 1932, ringing the bell one last time and taking the flag down from the pole outside. Local historian Samuel Harden Stille was witness to the scene and wrote about it for the Courier News:

The boys and girls had a hilarious time. The teacher was busy gathering up some of the old papers and books and things, holding a personal interest to him. There was not a note of sadness to be found on the mountain that day. The writer watched them eat their candies and oranges, and last of all, haul in Old Glory from the flagpole in front of the clapboarded school.
Fifty people attended the auction on July 2, 1932 where the school sold for $77.



The last class at the Mountain School, circa 1932

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