Margate City School History
Margate's Educational Progress
Margate's Educational Progress
Reprinted here with the permission of the Margate City Historical Society
Did you know that the first school and first council chamber in present day were the same?The borough of South Atlantic City, as Margate was called in 1891, was most fortunate to have as a resident George Lennig. For it was George Lennig of Philadelphia, who owned the building which housed the council chambers and schoolroom. Mr. Lennig also owned a summer home and an extensive amount of property in the borough.
Built in 1891, the building had one room on each of its two floors. The bottom room served as the council chamber and the upper room as the schoolroom. There was a large iron bell in the belfry used to call the children to school from their homes scattered among the sand dunes.
The building was located at Jackson (now Coolidge Avenue) and Railroad (now Atlantic Avenue). Mr. Lennig was concerned that his daughters and the children of his neighbors would have a place to attend school. A Miss Minnie Baldwin, high school graduate, was the first teacher. Initially she had four students; parents of these students took turns as janitors.
In the mid to late 1890's, when this building was rented, the volunteer fire department built another building on Washington Avenue (near today's City Hall). This building had one room which housed all grades. In the evening it was used as a chamber for council meeetings, and in the daytime a school.
City Hall having been built in 1903, became the site of the third school in what was the City of South Atlantic City. (We reincorporated as a city in 1897). The school board decided to partition the one room into two rooms in 1905. One room accommodated grades one through four and the other room grades five through eight. Miss Alice Whittaker, one of the teachers of the upper grades, taught for one month before going to teach in Atlantic City. She was replaced by Miss Rena Bowser, who for many years, served as secretary for the Board of Education. Miss Wittaker would later return to teach and become principal for many, many years in the Margate Public Schools.
The original Union Avenue School opened in 1911 and became the fourth school in Margate (we became Margate City in 1909). The school constructed of brick, had eight classrooms and a playroom. Only three rooms of the eight were occupied when it first opened. As time went by, three hundred children would attend school in the building by the mid 1920's.
Reading, writing, and arithmetic (the good old 3R's) was standard for the first four schools. In order to be promoted, students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades had to pass New Jersey State examinations at the end of the school year. Barnes Readers and Milne Arithmetic books were commonly used. Due to a lack of a gymnasium, much marching was done by the students.
The Granville Avenue School, built in 1925, became the fifth school in Margate. Built in the form of a castle the building received alot of notice for its time. The kindergarten rooms, the first floor, and one room on the second floor were opened. As the population of Margate increased, additional rooms were opened. The original Union Avenue School was closed in the late 1950's.
In 1953, the second Union Avenue School was built. The building housed a kindergarten, twelve classrooms, a library and office suite. The gymnasium was added in 1967. The Amherst Avenue School (now the Eugene A. Tighe School) was opened in 1956. It housed a kindergarten, eight classrooms, a library and an office suite. In September of 1961 an addition was constructed and eight classrooms, a shop, home economiccs room, and an all-purpose room and a library were added. Both the Union Avenue School and the Eugene A. Tighe School have had additional rennovations since their original construction.
Presently, there are two public schools in operation in Margate. There is talk of rebuilding a school on the old Granville Avenue School site. Time will tell!
The present webmaster (2006) will add that a third school was erected on the Granville Avenue site.The school was renamed the William H. Ross III Intermediate School.In 2010 the Union Avenue School was closed. Presently the two following schools still exist.
William H. Ross III Intermediate School- Grades K through 4.
Eugene A. Tighe School- Grades 5 through 8.