Franklin School

Franklin School had its beginning in 1825, when a group of Doddtown residents put up a two story wood frame school house on Dodd Street near Girard Avenue, shown in the drawing below.

Drawing of the 1825 Franklin School building

With a little modification such as the adding of garage doors, the school was turned into the Franklin Hose Co. No. 2 in June of 1884 shown below.

It had its own hose carriage and horse, but that was when fire "trucks" looked like the drawing on the right.

1874 photo of Franklin School, just finishing construction.

Ten years earlier, in 1874, the students had moved into the stone building shown above, built in its present location at 215 Dodd Street between Midland and Glenwood Avenues.

In 1997, Franklin School (in the background) was renamed as Whitney E Houston Academy. It is located on the same site as the 1874 building.

Whitney Houston, the present day Pop singer, Movie Star, Producer and her husband Bobby Brown, equally known as a Pop singer, attended the 1997 ceremony. Houston had attended the former Franklin School as a child when her family moved to East Orange in 1968. Houston's cousin, Dionne Warwick, also from East Orange, also has a school named after her.

East Orange was divided into three school districts many years before it became a separate municipality. Residents of Doddtown, having a very high regard for the public life of Benjamin Franklin, officially named its district in his memory on March 13, 1825, at a meeting held in the home of Zebina Dodd, when these resolutions were adopted:

Resolved, That we, the subscribers, build a school house twenty-five feet deep by thirty-four feet in length and two stories high.

Resolved, That there be seven trustees appointed to take charge of said house for the present year.

Resolved, That the house be known by the name of Franklin School of North Orange.

Building operations did not begin till May, the site chosen being on
Dodd street, near Girard avenue of a later day, and when completed the frame structure represented an outlay of $233.93. The room on the upper floor was not finished till 1833, when it was used for the neighborhood prayer meetings and for the Sunday school already established.

The seal used by the trustees was a United States ten-cent piece. Meager was the equipment of the class-room, the pupils sitting two in a seat at a stationary slanting board serving the purpose of a desk, under which the books were kept. The slate was in use and so was the quill pen.

Eleazer Monroe Dodd, a native of Orange and a prominent citizen of the county, was one of the first schoolmasters. While serving later as health officer of Newark, he succumbed during the cholera outbreak in that city in 1854.

The brick structure, erected on the south side of Dodd Street, was dedicated April 24, 1874. The lot purchased of Josiah Dodd cost $4,808.33, and the building $14,447.00. Four rooms were added ten years later, thereby doubling its capacity. In 1892 the school, becoming overcrowded, the assembly hall was partitioned into two rooms. One, devoted to kindergarten work, which had its beginning at this time, was under the supervision of Miss Mary I. Dodd. Another addition, made in 1898, cost $45,000, and other improvements have been made till today the ground, building and equipment represent an outlay of $117,217.29.

Lincoln J. Roys was the principal in 1920. The enrollment of pupils in 1920 was 954.

Franklin School has a most artistic setting. The Second River curves around the southern end and the entrance from Dodd street allows ample adornment of lawn with shade trees and shrubbery, giving an appearance seldom attained in laying out school grounds. There are approximately 250,000 square feet within the enclosure.

Excerpt from The History of the Oranges to 1921, Volume III, by David Lawrence Pierson

We welcome any old photos of East Orange or its schools. E-mail Jim Gerrish at [email protected]

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