Roosevelt School at 100
Journeys into River Edge
On the surface one could understand the possible confusion.
A cornerstone on the exterior reads 2002 and Franklin Roosevelt was not famous back in 1919. But a deeper dive makes more understandable the story behind the Roosevelt School as it marked its 100th anniversay.
The Roosevelt in question in Theodore and not Franklin, and the cornerstone reflects a 21st century addition which we will get to in a bit. But first some local context to this history might be helpful, courtesy of an entertaining and enlightening exhibit just recently concluded at the River Edge Cultural Center.
The first borough school around here was a one-room schoolhouse on Kinderkamack between Lincoln and Washingtion Avenues. Later a larger building followed at what is now the site of Critchley's Candies. Back then the community was known as Riverside (a name coming out of 1904 incorporation) so the school was formally known as Riverside School 1, but most referred to it as the "School in the Hollow". Stories of old-timers from that period recalled that the only way down the hill when there was ice was to slide on your school bag.
The building which came to be known as the Roosevelt School that is being celebrated this year was approved by voters on April 29, 1919. The cost $68,000.
The story goes that it was the children of the town who decided to name the school after President Theodore Roosevelt. It would be another 13 years before FDR would become President so no one should presume that Franklin was the intended honoree. Anyway, FDR was a Democrat, and back then this community was a exclusively Republican territory solidly.
By the way, the tiown was Riverside when the Roosevelt SChool opened. River Edge as we know it was not the name of the town until 1930 in an effort to lessen confusion with other Riversides around the styate.
The school opened in 1920. Sixteen rooms, a library and a gym were added. The cornerstone we see outside was a result of a major addition now almost 20 years old.
This Fall there was a major celebration at the school as well as 100th Anniversary exhibit at the Cultural Center.
The latter included documents, pictures, recollections and more to reflect the school, the town and the times they both grew and evolved in. Students, teachers and those of the town took the opportunity to celebrate this milestone and recall a past that had meaning to them all.