Monday, June 18, 2012

Bygone Schools of the Past

Given that crowding has been effecting Howard County Schools for decades on end it's hard to believe that Howard County has former Schools that have closed. No matter how hard it may be to believe it's true and I've done the research to prove it. Now I know what you're thinking; Wilde Lake High and Bushy Park Elementary come to mind although their old buildings have closed they were replaced by new buildings and that says nothing about enrollment declines in fact that shows that enrollment is projected to increase at the time these replacement Schools were built. This begs the question; Where are these bygone Schools of the past?
Not unlike every Jurisdiction in the Country Howard County used to have segregated Schools. Brown vs. Board of Education changed this and quite a few Schools were forced to close as a result. Some very small Schools whose opening date I'm not sure of closed as a result. There used to a Highland Elementary, a Dayton Elementary (Not today's Dayton Oaks) and a Cooksville Elementary. All of these Schools were hardly bigger than a one room School house and the lie that was "separate but equal" could not have been more true. All of these Schools closed in 1964 when the current Clarksville Elementary opened as an integrated School except for Cookesville which was absorbed by West Friendship. Yes the current Clarksville Elementary isn't the first that was located roughly where the Ten Oaks Ballroom and Fire Station now stands. There was also an Elkridge Colored School that closed but it was absorbed by the White Elkridge Elementary or the new Waterloo Elementary rather than Clarksville. 
Perhaps the only other segregated Black Elementary School of that era was Fells Lane Elementary. That school opened in 1955 and only operated as a School for 10 years and closed in 1965 as segregated Schools had to be discontinued as part of the Civil Rights Act. Today Fells Lane Elementary has been functioning as the Rogers Carter Community Center but as part of the Hilltop and Ellicott Terrace redevelopment plan the old School will be torn down and a new Community Center whose floor plan mirrors that of a Community Center and not a School. Fells Lane was probably the best funded School that was blacks only which doesn't say much.
There used to be a Scaggsville Elementary (not pictured) and it functioned as a School until 1971 when Hammond Elementary and Middle opened. East of Route 29 where Hammond opened it was projected to high growth and Scaggsville Elementary located west of Route 29 was not projected to have growth surrounding the School. Hammond was built to house its own future growth and the population of Scaggsville Elementary. As a result, Scaggsville closed when Hammond opened. Today Scaggsville exists as the Southern Howard County Police Station located behind the ill fated Cherry Tree Shopping Center. The Community of Scaggsville exists east of Route 29 but the old Elementary School is just west of Route 29 in what today is thought of as Fulton.  
  
 In 1973 when Laurel Woods (pictured) opened, the small obsolete Savage Elementary closed.15 years later Bollman Bridge opened. The whole story can be found on this blog.  
  
  In 1976 Ellicott City Elementary closed. Before Schools were integrated Ellicott City Elementary was a whites only School. It was located on College Avenue overlooking Historic Ellicott City. This was a very old School predating the original Ellicott Mills Middle that opened in 1939. This was once housed Ellicott City High School as well as the Elementary School. In 1939 Ellicott City High moved to Montgomery Road until 1952 when Howard opened. Ellcott City then became solely a Junior High School. It was renamed Ellicott Mills Middle in 1987 and was rebuilt on the same site in 2001. Ellicott City Elementary closed when Worthington opened in 1976. The old Ellicott City Elementary burned down in the 1980s after being vacated for several years. Although the Ellicott City Elementary district was sent to Worthington (pictured above) when it opened, Veterans now holds what was once the old Ellicott City District and has since its 2007 opening. 
  
  The late 1960s through the 1970s saw huge growth in the number of School aged Children in Howard County due largely to the onset of Columbia. The 1980s however saw population loss in those high growth areas as those homes began to house empty nesters. In some parts of Columbia, those same Neighborhoods are just now beginning to yield School aged children again.
In 1980 it became clear that in West Columbia and Ellicott City, each Community had to close an Elementary School. This was a debate that sparked during the first years of the 1980s as nobody wanted their School to close. In west Columbia it was a toss up between Longfellow and Faulkner Ridge Elementary. Longfellow had the smaller enrollment and district as well as the worst floor plan in West Columbia but you know the old saying; location location location right? In this case it meant that Faulkner Ridge closed in 1983. Faulkner Ridge not only housed its name sake Neighborhood but also housed Harpers Forest Apartments, Deering Woods Condos, and Hawthorn. Deering Woods went to Longfellow as well Beaver Brook (from Bryant Woods), Capsitrano Villas, Fenland Fields Apartments and Hobbits Glen (from Swansfield) Harpers Forest went to Swansfield, Hawthron went to Bryant Woods, and the Neighborhood of Faulkner Ridge went to Running Brook. Other than Faulkner Ridge being redistricted to Bryant Woods in 2003 these Districts haven't changed since 1983 when Faulkner Ridge closed.
 The other casualty of 1983 was Rockland Elementary. St. Johns Lane also had very low enrollment but given its central location and the building being in better shape, it was Rockland that closed. The entire Rockland District was absorbed by St. Johns Lane. Pretty quickly it became apparent that this was a mistake as St. Johns Lane became very crowded within a few short years which would have not been so dramatic if Rockland was still open. In fact there was talk of reopening Rockland until Waverly opened in 1990 providing relief for St, Johns Lane. Waverly wasn't enough and in 1997 the Community of Rockalnd got a new School to call is own; Holliefield Station (pictured below.)
 Holliefield Station's District is almost identical to that of the old Rockland Elementary although it contains a population about 3 times the size. There isn't a single School in Ellicott City in danger of closing now as these once low enrollment areas have had massive population growth between now and the time Rockland closed.
 Not surprisingly with two Elementary Schools having closed in 1983 there was talk of closing a Middle School in 1984. On the chopping block were Wilde Lake Middle, Dunloggin, Ellicott City Middle, Patapsco, and Waterloo Middle. Waterloo Middle was one of the oldest Schools in question and had had a fire. Waterloo Middle was not well funded having not had any real real renovations since its opening in 1955. The fire should have made that those renovations a reality but the School Board had a reason not to do so and as a result the fire damaged section was sealed off and portables were used. There was talk of building a new Middle School as a replacement on land the School Board owned on Mayfeild Avenue but projections didn't have the need for it until 1995. Waterloo Middle closed in 1984 and was absorbed by Ellicott City Middle which was grossly underpopulated. Ellicott City Middle had a better location than Waterloo Middle and wasn't damaged by a fire.
Waterloo Middle was used as a School for the rest of its life however, first in 1985 Waterloo Elementary (2 pictures up) used as its building underwent a Modernization. Then from 1986-1988 while the "new Southeastern Elementary" was being built, part of Guilford used Waterloo Middle, the Neighborhoods of Huntington and Savage went there until the "new Southeastern Elementarily" which is now Bollman Bridge opened in 1988. Throughout the life of Waterloo Middle it was suggested that its site was better suited for an Elementary School and the area was in need of one. In 1988 Waterloo Middle was torn down and two years later in 1990, Deep Run Elementary (pictured above) opened on the site of Waterloo Middle. The Waterloo Middle replacement opened the following year in 1991 on Mayfield Avenue appropriately named Mayfield Woods Middle.  
  
 Given that Howard County Schools have seen growth pretty much every year since Waterloo Middle closed, no other School has done so without a replacement of the same name opening at the same time such as Elkridge (pictured above) and Bushy Park in 1992 and 2007 respectively. Although projections show a net incarease for the County as a whole, the western region shows a drastic decline for the coming years. Could it be time for an additional School to close? Stay tuned to find out.

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