Hoosick Township Historical Society

Newsletter - June 2006

Editor: Phil Leonard
Museum Curator: Charles Filkins
Louis Miller Museum (518) 686-4682

High School Demolished

With the building of the new central school in 1961 the Walter A. Wood High School became empty. People worked to find a use for the old building. In October, 1967 the school board voted to demolish the high school portion and save the Wood mansion since the building was becoming a safety problem.

Burgess Brothers was the low bidder at $6,500. During the last week of February the building addition was demolished and the mansion remained. They reported, during demolition, that the building “was well constructed and about as fireproof as you can get”

The school board turned the mansion over to the village of Hoosick Falls. The following appeared in the February 29, 1968 Standard Press: “The Walter A. Wood mansion is destined to become an apartment house if Village officials go ahead with plans stated last fall to turn it over to Kenneth Lester for $1. Mr. Lester said he would make it over into rental apartments which will overlook Wood Memorial Park”. This plan and other offers to build apartments did not materialize and the Village board voted to demolish the mansion.

The area is now the home of Senior Citizen Housing and an attractive complex above the park. The mansion would have been a wonderful community historic site, but in 1968 money for this type of project was hard to find.

Trivia of the Walter A. Wood High School
  • Cost $225,000 to build in 1927 - $6,500 to demolish in 1968.
  • First graduation class had 40 students in 1928 - Last graduation class had 57 students in 1961.
  • Sixteen faculty in 1930 - Twenty six in 1961.
  • W. Leon Hutt was Superintendent when it opened - Philip Leonard was Superintendent when it closed.
  • First yearbook was published in 1930.
  • Valedictorian 1929 George Quinlin, Salutatorian Madeline McKeon.
  • Valedictorian 1961 Yvonne Cadoret, Salutatorian Judith Russell.

    Salutatory Address Class of 1948

    Walter Abbott Wood, whose home this once was, and whose son's family gave the mansion for a school. A very few of the older residents may remember this gentleman, but to most of us he is only a name and a portrait. So tonight let us go back in fancy to the time when he was a prominent citizen of the village and host in the lovely home which is now a part of the school.

    Mr. Wood was born in Hillsdale, New Hampshire in 1815 the son of Aaron and Rebecca Wright Wood. He grew up and received his early education in Albany County. At the age of twenty one, he arrived in Hoosick Falls and went to work as a blacksmith. After four years he went to Nashville, Tennessee to work, but a few years later returned to Hoosick Falls where he entered into a partnership with John White in the manufacture of plows and other agricultural machinery. Mr. Wood was a man of very high standing in the community and was once president of the Village of Hoosick Falls. He was trustee of the Ball Seminary, the present Classic Street school, and the first school in Hoosick Falls. He was also a trustee of the Free School. Mr. Wood served as president of the Board of Education and was a very stable member for many years. Mr. Wood married Miss Bessie Parsons, when about twenty years later she died, he married Miss Elizabeth Nichols. He had a son, Walter, Jr., and a daughter Julia, now Mrs. Blackington.

    When Mr. Wood died of influenza at the age of 77, his business and the mansion were taken over by Walter, Jr. It was just a short time later that the mansion was given to the village.

    Visitors to the school, as well as we who traverse its halls daily, have doubtless tried to picture the building when it was a stately residence, noted not only locally but nationally for its hospitality. At the south end of the mansion, there was a large porch with a black and white tile floor. Although the porch has been removed, the tile remains. At the north end of the mansion was located a large circle of grass, with one tree standing in the center. Cars or carriages coming up the driveway would drive around this quaint circle before reaching the house. Across the north end of the house was a long porch which led to a walled garden covering the area where the present new addition begins. This garden was beautifully laid out with flower beds and graveled paths and at each of the far corners was a. roofed tea house. From the east the garden was entered by a wooden door in the wall.

    All of us who have sat in class rooms at the southeast end of the building and gazed dreamily out the window as the teacher droned on, have been intrigued by the doorway leading into the hillside and conceived of it as a medieval dungeon. It was, however, only the icehouse where the Woods kept milk, cream, meat, poultry, and other perishable food, in addition to ice.

    Entering through the south door in the main hall on tile first floor, we find on the left side, the drawing room, the entry, and the library, the present library rooms, whose beautifully decorated ceilings have been retained. Along the right side, we find the dining room, now an English room, which had a large fireplace with the Wood monogram carved in the mantle, next the butler's pantry, which contained a large safe, in which the Woods kept all their silver, next the help's dining room, and the kitchen, the present Home Economics Department. On the second floor, from the top of the stairs at the southern end, on the left side, was found the green room, now the art room, Mr. Woods private library, now the office, a bathroom, and Mr. and Mrs. Wood's bedroom. Along the right side was the red room, used now as an English room, the children's nursery, a living room, a back stairway, all of which are now rooms of the Science Department. All woodwork through the house was black walnut and a large skylight was fitted into the ceiling in the upstairs hall. On the landing was located a large, beautiful clock, for which the works alone cost $1,000.

    This was truly a beautiful house, which the Wood's must have been proud to own and to live in, and which, we are now proud to call our alma mater.

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