In recent years, a frequent topic of conversation locally has been of the crowding in local public schools.
At times, some long time citizens and observers of the local scene can become a bit amused and confused when the issue is raised, for they can recall a time when the community built a new public school to address this borough’s growing school age population.
But that school did not last.
The school was the Hollie M. Davis School. Located at the far end of Eastbrook Drive at its intersection with Coles Court, it was a seven room elementary school built at a cost of $250,000.
“Hollie M.” , named after a long time Public School Superintendent in town (1932-1956), came about in the mid-1950’s when a prior school, the Washington School, itself built in 1952 was sold to the River Dell Regional School District in 1955 in order to become the River Dell Junior High School, now the Middle School.
The Hollie M. Davis School opened in 1957. It was considered by many a cozy, intimate place. It is remembered by locals for a cut-through path to Valley Road. There was also baseball field, home field for many Little League games.
By the 1970’s, the baby boomers for whom the school was initially built had moved on, and the school population started to decline. In 1976 the River Edge School Board found there to be a classroom surplus. Many suggestions were floated. Among much controversy, it was decided to close the school.
Then again another controversy ensued involving what should be done with the shuttered school.
Suggestions were made to rent out the property. But in the end a decision was made to demolish the building.
Homes were built there.
It was not all that long before the demographics changed again in River Edge. Soon there was overcrowding in the schools, and talk about needing more space. Eventually, the New Bridge Center was conceived and built. It has now become an important part of the community.
Today the Hollie M. Davis School is remembered by a plaque honoring Hollie M. Davis to be found at the River Edge Public Library. A reader has reported that there is also a school remembrance page on Facebook.
Through it all, some old timers still recall the old Hollie M. Davis, how it came to be, how it all ended and still ask how it all played out as it did.
Moreover, they muse, that perhaps somewhere in the Hollie M. story there is a lesson or two to be gleamed to guide modern day River Edge these decades later.
Acknowledgment: Source and background materials from Musket Anchor and Plow, The Story of River Edge; Arno Press, 1976