Education

For a large part of the towns history very little money was given to schools. In fact more money was spent on roads than on schools for many years. As travel was more difficult in the 19th century than it is now, the town used a district school system and in 1822 had broken the town into ten districts.

The District System

Each district in Ludlow had its own schoolhouse described by Alfred Noon in his book;

These buildings were always oblong in shape, one story in height, and placed on the line of the highway with little or no room for playground except the street. They contained one room, usually with windows on three sides; at the entrance a narrow vestibule, called the "entry," where the pupils hung their wraps, and where fuel for the fire was kept in company with the ever desired water pail and dipper. At one side of the main room there was at first a fireplace, which could burn wood four feet in length. On the opposite side was a long desk fastened to the wall, in front of which was a long bench forming a seat for the older pupils. In front of this was another bench, lower and with no back, for the younger ones. When there was occasion for the older pupils to use the desk for writing or figuring, they were obliged to throw their feet over the bench and under the desk, thus facing the wall, with their backs to the teacher. The teacher's desk was a small stand or table. There were no other furnishings. No maps or pictures served their part in the education of this period.


Here I will describe as much information as I am able to on each of the Schoolhouses. Hopefully I will be able to get more information as time goes on.

All of the supplies and books that a student needed had to be supplied by their family. The family was also responsible for supplying wood to be used as fuel at the schoolhouses. Paper at this time cost too much and was hard to come by so the students would have to use slate and pens made from goose quills. The teachers had to live with families in the districts where they taught, which must have been interesting for the students that the teachers ended up living with. What was at the time a very radical and unheard of idea at a school took place in Ludlow as well. Around 1830, the girls in a class taught by a Miss Mary Newell were allowed to study fractions. They even made books showing each of the fraction problems solved as proof to those who didn't believe that girls could learn fractions.

The New System

As the town grew in size and new education standards were created the people of the town of Ludlow narrowly voted to end the district system in 1882 by a vote of 55 to 46. From this point on the town would control education through a committee although a few rural schools would stay in use for about 50 more years. In 1893 the town decided that it needed a superintendent of schools and joined a Supervising Union with Hampden, Longmeadow, and Wilbraham until 1903. At that time Ludlow joined a union with only Agawam. This union lasted until 1922, at which point the town voted to dissolve it and have its own full-time superintendent.

As the student population increased in the "Village" (the name at the time for the area near the bridge into Indian Orchard) the Schoolhouse that was given the task of serving that district (Number 4) had at one point 70 students of all ages in its single room. In 1879, 3 years before the district system would be abolished, the Ludlow Manufacturing Company created a classroom in the Union Church to handle the overflow (LMC owned the church at this point in time). In 1884 the LMC paid for the construction of the Union School in the Village as well. This building was used for both elementary and high school grades until 1900 when again more room was needed. Rooms in the Masonic Hall were adapted for some elementary grade classes at this time but it was still not enough. In 1900 another school building was built and named after a teacher named, Ms. S. Adelaide Cole. Another building was built in 1906 known as the primary building.

The Continuing Need for More Space

Original Ludlow High School in 1910

In 1910 the Ludlow High School opened and helped to alleviate the space problem for the next ten years. The schools then were forced to alternate two groups of students comprised of four classes each between learning and play. In the winter the school was forced to hold double sessions as the students could not play outside due to the weather. This went on until portable schools could be completed. As the problem continued, the East Street School was created and an addition was added to the high school. The issue of overcrowding persisted as the town continued to grow but nothing would be done until after WW2 ended. School enrollment also started to drop in the elementary grades in the 1930's due to the poor economic conditions at the time. This lead to the closing of East Street School from 1945 to 1951 at which point the schools would have to deal with the baby boomers. Again double sessions had to be implemented in order for all students to receive an education. In 1957 the building of Chapin Street School helped to relieve the problem in the lower grades, but not by much. Then in 1960 an addition to East Street School was completed and in 1962 a new high school was completed at Veterans Park. Still the issue persisted and double sessions were still in use. After this an addition was made to Chapin Street School, Veteran's Park Elementary School was built, and an addition to the high school was built. This finally alleviated the issue and double sessions were never held again.