Lincoln School demolition: What has happened with other historic Middletown school spots?

Lincoln School, Middletown’s oldest still-standing school building, is being demolished.

After Lincoln School, described as a Middletown “eyesore” for decades, is demolished, single-family homes may be built on the 5.5-acre site, though no formal plans have been finalized.

The school opened at 2402 Central Ave. in 1923 and was the oldest still-standing school building in Middletown, according to the district and city records.

It was important to demolish the buildings because they had created a “level of blight” in the neighborhood, said Susan Cohen, assistant city manager.

In the school’s early days, the Middletown High School football team played its games behind the school during the 1930′s, ’40′s and ’50′s until Barnitz Stadium was built on South Main Street.

Lincoln closed in 1980 when students were moved up Central Avenue to Roosevelt Elementary School, which closed in 2008 and has been demolished. The Roosevelt property is green space.

So what has happened to other sites of former Middletown schools?

In 1908, Middletown High School opened at what is now the corner of Central Avenue and Clark Street in downtown. In 1923, it became the eighth-grade school and was called Roosevelt.

In 1931, it closed as a school and became the Middletown City Building. The city vacated the property in 1976 when the City Building was built and opened at One Donham Plaza.

The former MHS burned down in 1984 and the property now serves as Dublin House, a senior residence community.

In 1923, MHS opened on Girard Avenue, then became the Freshman High School in 1969 and Vail Middle School in 1981. The building also housed Wade E. Miller Gym, where Jerry Lucas led the Middies to 76 straight victories and back to back boys basketball state titles.

The buildings have been demolished and the green space may be an integral part of the development of the Oakland Neighborhood.

Former Verity Middle School, named after George M. Verity, founder of Armco, was sold in 2015 by the school district to Berachah Church that still holds services in the remodeled building on Johns Road.

Pastor Lamar Ferrell said the church purchased the school and the 58 acres for $293,000 from the Middletown City School District. He said the church invested about $1.7 million renovating the 77,000-square-foot school that was built in 1970.

Jefferson School opened in 1912 and went through additions in 1921 and 1959. The school has closed and the city hopes to build one of its four new fire stations, No. 81, on the property for about $3 million.

Union School, later called Old South, opened in 1871 at what is now South Main Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. It closed in 1951 and became Bishop Fenwick High School from 1952 to 1962. It was vacated in 1962 and burned down April 23, 1965. Basketball and tennis courts and a water fountain are located on the former property called Old South Park.

Booker T. Washington School opened in 1918 on South Main Street between the present Seventeenth and Eighteenth avenues. It became Edison School in 1955. The school closed in 1971 and now houses Washington Park.

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