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First Medford School

Footnotes to Long Island History

First Medford School

by

Thomas R. Bayles


 

            The Long Island Rail Road was extended through to Greenport in July 1844 and a station was established at Medford, which was then an unbroken wilderness.  This stop was made for the convenience of the people of Patchogue and Port Jefferson and stages met the trains at Medford for those villages, as the railroad was not opened to Patchogue until 1868 and to Port Jefferson in 1872, so the Medford station was an important stop on the railroad.

            The first settler in Medford was John Smith, who built his home on the land north of the track near the station, and lived there until he died in 1858.  In 1896 an eight-acre tract of land was purchased by Jacob Beck who built a small house for his family and began clearing his little farm.  From this flattering start the growth of Medford continued and in a few years a school district was organized, taking part of its territory from Holtsville, Farmingville, Coram, West Yaphank, Swan River and Patchogue districts.  The growth of the school from that time on was rapid.

            This district was formed as No. 36 but soon changed to No. 20, and was made by order of Commissioner M. H. Packer on June 16, 1903, “in order that the school children living in the vicinity of Medford Station might have better school accommodations.”

            The following trustees were elected in August 1903; George Erhardt, Jacob Beck and John H. Wright.  Miss Jessie O. Walker was engaged as teacher and the school opened October 19, 1903, in a small private house north of the Medford station with 14 pupils.

            That year a gift of a site for a school building was received from O. L. Schwenke, which was located at the intersection of Peconic and New Medford Avenues.  A building was erected at a coast of $600.

            In March 1908 all that portion of district No. 26 and 27 lying north of Woodside Avenue was added to this district, and the school house enlarged to twice its original size at a cost of $650.

            On September 17, 1921, the Medford district became a Union Free School, and on Labor Day 1923, the dedication of a new school building on the east side of Medford Avenue was held.  The program was in charge of Adolph Hoffman, president of the board of education, who had been enthusiastic in his support of the new building.  Many speakers were on the program, including town officers, the district superintendent, and prominent neighbors from surrounding districts.  This school building coast $32,000, and was designed by Edward Rose, Sr., of Medford.  Four years after its dedication the building was overcrowded, and one class was placed in the old school house.

            One of the earlier trustees who spent much energy for the welfare of the school was Peter Hoffman, and his daughter, Mrs. Ernest A. Theis was elected to the board of education in 1925.  She was the first woman thus honored in the district.

 

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