06 March 2018

Fairview School

Hot Lunch Club we're no fake,
See the dishes we can make,
Mix all well is the rule,
Hot Lunch Club of Fairview School
This was the cheery yell shouted by the members of the Fairview School's Hot Lunch Team as they demonstrated their techniques and took questions from the members of the Somerset County Teachers' Association at Somerville High School on April 17, 1920. These Branchburg students attended the "new" Fairview School built in Neshanic Station in 1914, but the original Fairview School was in use long before there was any village at all.

Fairview School, Neshanic Station, circa 1905
The school was sold in 1929
Maps from 1850 and 1860 show us that a schoolhouse was present on the site on Fairview Drive just outside of town even before the mid-1860s construction of the school in the above photo. In the mid 19th century this school was attended by the farm children from all over the southern part of Branchburg Township, and likely by children from Hillsborough as well.

Detail from 1860 map of Philadelphia, Trenton, and Vicinity
Fairview Schoolhouse at center

Amazingly, as the coming of the railroads in the 1860s and 1870s were the seeds that grew these farmers' fields into a thriving commercial center, filled with homes and businesses, Branchburg Township didn't get around to building a new school for the community until 1914. At that time, a new two-story, four-room school was built at the southeast corner of Marshall Street and Chester Avenue.

One of the last classes at the old one-room Fairview School,
circa 1913-14

This new Fairview School had problems right from the start. Despite being a "modern" building, there was still no central heating or indoor lavatories. And worse than that, the state did not approve of the manner in which the school was constructed, and did not allow the two classrooms on the second floor to be used. Those rooms were never finished and remained unfinished through the life of the school.

The "New" Fairview School,
14 May 1938 Courier News
Beginning in 1946, several proposals were put forward to bring the school up to standard, but none were approved. The school was put up for auction in 1950, but there were no takers because of zoning issues. As Branchburg's population began to boom in the early 1950s, the school was again pressed into service for younger grades.

5th through 8th-grade students at the new Fairview School,
1922-23 school year

In 1955, with the thirteen classroom addition to Hillsborough's Consolidated School (HES) not yet complete, the Hillsborough Board of Education rented the two classrooms at Fairview School to ease overcrowding and reduce the number of schools on double shifts.

Fairview School circa 1933.
Photo courtesy of Carlene Kuhl.

In the late 50s, Branchburg Township students overflowed into firehouses, rescue squad buildings, and, yes, the old Fairview School - still in use between 1956 and 1960, despite having been identified years before as inadequate.

2 February 1957 Courier News
The Branchburg Board of Education gave the school to the municipality in 1967, and they, in turn, disposed of the property in a land-swap in 1973, which led to the school's swift demolition.

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