If there is one thing I have learned while researching Hillsborough Township, NJ schools it is that during the 20th century every solution to the ever-increasing enrollment issues has been short-lived - at best. The first consolidated school - Bloomingdale - was too small to put more than a few of the rural one-room schools out of business, and necessitated the building of the second consolidated school - HES - just 21 years later. Unfortunately that 1950 school predated the beginning of the 40-year residential building boom by 5 years.
|The Harlingen school soon after it was built in 1918|
Which brings us to August 1957. With Sunnymead School - another proposed enrollment crusher - still two years away, the school board was scrambling to find space for 1,207 students. Five classrooms at Bloomingdale and four in Flagtown were put back online, and the two rooms at Liberty School were again pressed into service. With the 29 classrooms at the recently enlarged (there we go again) Consolidated School (HES), that left every grade accounted for except 5th.
|22 November 1952 Courier News|
Casting about for any sort of acceptable space, board members were fortunate to find the classrooms of the Harlingen School on the southbound side of Route 206 in Montgomery Township available. Montgomery had also begun consolidating their rural schools and had not yet experienced the kind of suburban sprawl beginning to hit Hillsborough.
The Harlingen School, like most of Somerset County's rural schools, began as a typical one-room schoolhouse in the middle of the 19th-century. In 1918 a new building was opened on a site north of the Dutch Reformed Church incorporating a typical four-room configuration and later expanded to include two additional rooms. Hillsborough needed all six rooms for the 5th graders. After Sunnymead opened in 1959, Montgomery reclaimed the valuable educational space for themselves - but not before sending Hillsborough a bill for "necessary painting". Hillsborough, of course, disputed the idea that they had left the school in any other condition besides immaculate.
|The Harlingen School with later additions|
Within a year, Hillsborough was back on bended knee looking for help from their neighbor to the south. Hillsborough was again building - two schools this time, Triangle and Woodfern - but the new schools would not be ready until spring 1962. The two rooms each offered by Montgomery at Blawenburg and Skillman Schools and a sub-standard room at the Hillsborough Rescue Squad Building(!) were just enough - for the moment........