1831 - 1880's
Boonton’s school system has a long and imposing history going back to 1831 when the New Jersey Iron Company, in the same year it rolled its first iron, provided a school for the people in the settlement of Boonton Falls. Taught by Miss Dean, whose salary was paid by the Company, school was held in part of a dwelling on Plane Street, below the spot where Soldiers Monument now stands.
The following year, again with the help of the New Jersey Iron Company, a school building was erected at the corner of Cedar and Liberty Streets, and here for 20 years the children of the mill workers attended classes. This second schoolhouse stood amid fine trees near a brook, at the top of a hill – a situation which sometimes on snowy winter days tempted the children to turn over their benches and use them as sleds. Issac S. Lyon taught here in 1834 and the last teacher was Marcus W, Martin, whose annual salary in 1852 was $350.
With the building of a new, two-story brick schoolhouse in 1852, a block away, the old frame structure was sold and eventually altered to become a dwelling. This brick school, sometimes called Boonton Academy, was the original one at the School Street site. It stood in a grove of oaks facing the school green, a landmark on its lofty site. More important, it was a landmark in education in the County, for through the efforts of John L. Kanouse it was the first, and for many years the only, free school in Morris County.
Another school, on property now occupied by the house at 610 Lathrop Avenue has been serving South Boonton, which was in Pequannock District No. 6, since 1844. In 1868, the school lot was sold to William G. Lathrop for $200 plus another lot on Lathrop Avenue near Old Boonton Road, to which site the school building was moved. Until 1874 this small school functioned in its new location. In later years it was made into the second story of a house that has now grown to be a four family residence. In fact, the upper rear windows of 319 Lathrop Avenue still have the arched lintels which identify the part of the building that was old Schoolhouse No. 6. (Pictured on this page)
Beginning in January, 1875, the Harrison Street School served South Boonton for 54 years.
Parochial classes in Boonton began in 1860 when the Rev. Dominic Castet and later the Rev. Louis Gambosville taught classes in the basement of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. One of the lay teachers was John Holland who later achieved fame as inventor of the submarine. In 1876 these classes were discontinued, to be resumed in the 1880’s when the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell assumed charge. A convent was built for them at Birch and Oak Streets.