Black River High School; Black River District 16

The Former Black River Union Free School District 16: Despite an advantageous location and a good water power site, the village of Black River grew slowly .  There was only one house there in 1818 and by 1826 only three more families had been added.  About this time, the village belatedly "woke up", and a long period of steady growth set in.  The population of Black River was about 700 in 1890 and it became an incorporated village in 1891.  The Rutland portion of Black River being the oldest, the first schoolhouse was erected on this side.  Various sources list the date of construction as early as 1810, but this seems unlikely for a number of reasons, population not the least of these.  It is doubtful if there was a schoolhouse in Black River Village before 1825.

 In 1882 a stone school was constructed on the easterly corner of Remington and West streets.  It was replaced by a frame schoolhouse in 1853. In the Book of Deeds 106, page 501, there is recorded a deed for one quarter of an acre known as the schoolhouse lot, from John and Lucinda Augsbury, on March 2, 1852, to Rutland District 14.    In 1852-64 period, the district was changed to Rutland No. 8.  The first movement to establish a school district on the LeRay side of the river was started in 1836.  On March 14 of that year a new school district was formed and numbered LeRay No. 14 - unfortunately the number also given to the school on the opposite side of the river - a fact that has led to some confusion, but early maps clearly show schoolhouses on each side of the river.

On May 2, 1836 Christopher and Mary Poor sold a parcel of land to LeRay 14 for $15.  The deed is recorded in Book of Deeds 84, Page 438.  Nelson Scott contracted to construct the schoolhouse and the new frame building was finished Oct 23, 1882 on what is the site of the Masonic Hall in Black River.  In 1893, Common School Districts 8 of Rutland and  14 of LeRay were joined together as Black River Union Free School District No. 14.  For a time after the merger, both schoolhouses were used.  A state charter granted to the district on Nov. 21, 1895, authorized the Black River school to operate as a junior school (four year high school courses were not offered.)

In 1899, it was voted at a special meeting to erect a new, larger building on a new site.  A lot was purchased on the north-east corner of South Main and East Remington streets, former site of an old hotel.  For $6,943, George Walcott contracted to build the school, which was to contain six rooms for the grades and high school.  It was ready for use on January 8, 1900. (pictured above) The old school lots were disposed of.  On Aug. 1904, Black River became a full-fledged high school charted to grant diplomas.  The school experienced growing pains between 1900 and 1929, the year Black River High School was built.  The faculty increased from five to 13 teachers.  Some rooms had to be divided in two and an outside building was rented to accommodate the student load.

In 1928 the new two story school was constructed of brick and located on the north side of LeRay street at the edge of town.  This is the basis of the Black River school we know today.  A full time music instructor was added to the faculty in 1935 and a cafeteria followed in 1947.  Two years later, adult education became a part of the program with bookkeeping, shorthand and sewing classed.

The old high school was sold to A. R. Baldick in 1930.  It was renovated into an apartment house, with the name "Baldick Apts" appearing high across the front. 

 In 1956, Black River voted to become part of the Carthage Central School District.  Louis Hervey was high school principal at the time.  The senior class of 1957 was the last to attend Black River High and the 21 seniors took part in commencement exercises at the Carthage Central High School on Martin Street Road. The Fort Drum expansion that began in 1985 made it evident that Black River needed to be larger.  District voters responded by voting for a new science wing and a $7 million expansion and renovation project .  The project involved renovating the old high school and adding a new two-story, 31-room wing which would house a cafeteria, large gymnasium, computer center, classrooms and building offices.  The old gymnasium is the current school's library.  Other parts of the old high school rooms that were converted to music rooms, rooms for disabled students and other classrooms. 

Construction had to be done while the students attended classes in the new wing while the old school was being remodeled.  The building was dedicated on Tuesday, April 25, 1989 with Brigadier General Sherman Williford as guest speaker.


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CRT, August 24, 1961

March 2004