Page 22 - Wallingford Magazine Holiday 2019
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new school for $25,000 on the property donated by Moses Y Beach. There would be just one four story building, but the top floors were designated to be the first Wallingford high school.
The final cost came to $31,896 when it was com- pleted in April 1871. It was known as the North Main School. The entire school had 11 classrooms, nine for grammar and two for high school. This building continued as a high school until the first Lyman Hall High School was built during the middle of WWI in 1916. It is now the Wallingford Town Hall.
An August, 1878 tornado knocked off the top two and a half floors of the original four story build- ing. The building was rebuilt with only three stories. Once finished, the remodeled school housed the lowest grades on the first floor, middle grades on the second floor, and high school on the top floor. Girls outnumbered boys 22 to 15. The Wallingford High School graduating class consisted of five girls and three boys in the first year in the remodeled building.
Eventually the realization took hold that fewer school districts were better than more, and in 1865 school districts began to consolidate. This led to the creation of fewer but larger schools.
By 1894 there was an enrollment of 1,173 stu- dents, 517 in the North Main School, Colony Street School had 437, the Cottage School on 174 Quinni- piac Street had 121 in two rooms, 38 in the Simpson one-room school and 60 in one room at South Main school.
By this time, parents no longer had to pay for books. There were 30 teachers. Salaries were $1,300 for the superintendent, two principals at $900 and $700, and teachers ranged from $275 to $600.
Some other facts regarding the Wallingford school system in the 1890s:
• Although a law existed saying all children had to
go to school until age 14, it was not observed.
• 50 percent never reached seventh grade, and in
1898 only 10 percent reached high school.
• Each classroom averaged 45 students.
These previous centuries served as the founda- tion for the development of the 20th century Wall- ingford schools that still exist today. The next issue will cover the 1900’s to present day. A special focus will be on the baby boomers’ impact on the Walling- ford enrollment tsunami. Can someone say, “double sessions?”
Joe Pajor welcomes hearing your feedback and memories. Email him at
Wallingford Magazine – Holiday, 2019

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