In the summer of 1908 the Woodstock School Trustees completed this new, brick High School to serve as the area’s Graded and High School. Plans for it were started in 1906 and construction began the following year. A private donation of $3,000 from N.B. Schmitt of Schmitt’s Drug Store, coupled a loan from the state Literary Fund and $2700 raised by selling the old school financed the building. The school’s library would be named in honor of Schmitt to recognize his donation.
When it opened enrollment at the school was close to 250 students. This large number of pupils meant the new structure was overcrowded. In 1909 the School Trustees had moved the first and second grade to a rented building in Lawyers Row.
One of the features of this new school was a large outdoor space for students and the community to enjoy. Community members observed its grounds, including the “Woodstock Commons” across Court Street had a “manicured lawn” with the “greenest grass” available. In addition to school programs and outdoor sports, it also hosted community events including travelling shows and lectures.
However, the grounds also presented a danger. The Southern Railway line serving the area was adjacent to school grounds and crossed the road that most students used to walk to school. Locals objected to the school site for this reason and after construction the Town of Woodstock employed a crossing guard at this site for many years.
This building would remain the town’s primary school until 1933 when the county school board opened a new high school on the north end of Woodstock. The school on Court Street then became the Woodstock Elementary School and housed grades 1-7. Around the same time the school added a cafeteria in the basement to provide hot meals to students. Previously pupils were responsible for bringing their own meals.
The basement also housed the school’s furnace room which doubled as the site where corporal punishment was dispensed. Paddling was common in public schools during the period.
In the 1950s the Woodstock Elementary School had become overcrowded. Approximately 400 students filled nine classrooms. A large outdoor trailer was added to accommodate students. This clapboard building, located on the south side of the school, was referred to as the “Ivory Palace” or the “Chicken Coop.”
When consolidated High Schools opened in 1959 to ease these overcrowding issues, elementary students were transferred to the north end of town and this building became the county school board office. It would serve in that capacity until 2001 when they relocated to a new county administration office.
Today this building is abandoned. However it was recently acquired by the Town of Woodstock and within the next decade will become the town’s offices.