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