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Towns & Industry (1860-1880)

The West Ward School Bell

West Ward School Bell

1875 school bell, Napanee West Ward School

The first Napanee Academy, a frame building, was built in 1846 on the lot north of the Western Methodist Church. Classes were supervised by Rev. J.A. Devine. The Academy served as both a grammar school and common school. By 1855, attendance had increased dramatically despite the existence of several small private schools in the community, and a second school was required. Built to the south of the Academy, the new building served as the grammar school, and the old Academy continued as the common school. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

In 1864, a decision was made to construct a new brick building on Bridge Street to accommodate the pupils of both schools. John Herring was awarded the construction contract for the new West Ward School. Built at a cost of $7,950, the West Ward School was opened to students in September 1865. Robert Phillips, a former headmaster from the old Napanee Academy, served as the first headmaster of the West Ward School.

Ten years later, a cast school bell from The Jones & Company Troy Bell Foundry, was hung in the bell tower of the West Ward School. The Jones & Company Troy Bell Company, an award winning bell foundry in Troy, New York State, specialized in the production of church, academy, steamboat, locomotive, and carriage bells. These bells used a rotary yoke system, allowing the bell's clapper to be adjusted to strike in different directions. This prevented the clapper from swinging back and forth repeatedly on the same two areas of the bell. This lessened the risk of cracks developing in the casting.

A fire in 1896 damaged the centre part of the school, and badly damaged the furniture. The Insurance Company paid the Board $4608. The Board engaged Mr. Hanley, Architect to prepare plans to change entrances and classrooms and enlarge West Ward School. George Cliff was contracted for carpentry and brick work. While repairs were being made, rooms were rented from Lahey and McKenty. No recesses were allowed while occupying these rooms. The Entrance Class was taught in the Assembly Hall of the Collegiate.

A proposal from Smead, Dowd and Company to install two large furnaces and a hard coal furnace was voted down as too expensive. Each room in the school continued to be heated by stoves. The danger from fire was assessed to be very small since only two stoves, one in the front hall and one in the teachers' room, were not under constant supervision. There were three exits and the children were trained which door to use. In 1909, a slide-style fire escape was purchased. However, by 1912, a new steam heating plant was installed and in December that year, the stoves and pipes belonging to West Ward School were stored with Boyle and Son.

The boundary line between East Ward and West Ward was abolished in 1907 and pupils were shifted to equalize the classes between the East Ward and West Ward Schools. By 1912, due to overcrowding, another teacher was engaged for East Ward and all pupils below 3rd Reader, residing on the east side of John Street, were required to attend East Ward. The East Ward School, an academy similar to West Ward School, had been built in 1872.

The West Ward School served the community until it was replaced by a new $300,000 school at the corner of Graham and West Streets in 1949. The contract for building the new school was awarded in March 1948 to W.C. Brennan. Classes moved in for the September opening in 1949. By Royal consent, the new school was named, "The Prince Charles School." The new school was officially opened October 19 1949 by the Premier of the Province, The Honourable Leslie Frost, K.C.

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