01 June 2017

Liberty School

On August 9, 1950, with the grand opening of the Hillsborough Consolidated School (now known as Hillsborough Elementary School) a month away, the school board disposed of three schools at auction. The Clover Hill School was sold for $3,000, the Neshanic School for $4,750, and the Pleasantview School for $7,000. Missing from the inventory was Liberty School - unable to be sold because a clear title to the property could not be obtained.

The one-room Liberty School pictured circa 1911
According to historic maps of Hillsborough and Somerset County, a school existed on the northbound side of the current Route 206 near the intersection of Valley Road from at least 1850. By the 1870s, the Liberty District No. 42 was one of 15 school districts in Hillsborough Township - each with their own one-room rural schoolhouse. 

Rear view of the new two-room Liberty School circa 1912

A two-room school replaced the original Liberty School for the start of the 1912-13 school year. The school shared a design with the Neshanic School on Amwell Road which opened at the same time.

25 September 1954 Courier News

The problem with obtaining a clear title was that the deed restricted use of the property to a school. If the property were to be used for any other purpose, it had to be returned to the previous owner, or their heirs. By 1950, the school district had already owned the property for a century and finding legal heirs was difficult. In any case, the initial 20 classrooms of the Hillsborough Consolidated School only took a small bite out of Hillsborough's increasing enrollment issues. Liberty School was put back into regular use within a couple of years, and used regularly until Sunnymead School opened in 1959, and then on an emergency basis throughout the 1960s.

14 June 1957 Courier News
Although students had no indoor plumbing at the school, no modern playground or indoor recreation area, and no kitchen providing hot lunches, they regularly expressed their opinion that Liberty was the best school in Hillsborough. Children who spent time at both Liberty School and the modern consolidated school, were always happiest when they were redistricted back to the little red schoolhouse on Route 206.

Liberty School 1989
Despite being identified as a historical resource the Liberty School was demolished in the early 1990s.

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