Welcome to the Riverside School
The area we now know as Danversport was first actively settled in the 1750’s. Known throughout the 18th century as “New Mills”, the area became Danvers’ most prosperous village during the late part of the century due to its shipbuilding, maritime commerce and brick manufacturing. By the end of the 19th century, its earlier Yankee-English settlers were being supplemented by newer waves of immigrants from central and southern Europe who found work in the brink and rapidly growing leather and tanning industries. With the establishment in the early 1800’s of a formalized Danvers School Committee and a school district system, the New Mills District #2 School was opened. One of the last of these earlier one-room school structures still survives today on Water Street. Known as the Fox Hill School, the building was constructed in 1879 and continued in active use as a Danvers school into the 1970’s.
A major school population boom occurred in Danvers in the 1880’s – 1890’s resulting in a flurry of 4 new schools being constructed. In 1895 the Colonial Revival Danversport School House on Water Street was built at a cost of $12,000. Pen Varney was the architect for an eight-classroom structure which was the primary learning place for generations of Danversport elementary students.
The cyclical events of population and school needs hit Danvers again in the post World War II era when the current middle aged generation of “baby boomers” reached school age in the early 1950’s. 1955 found the town overrun by these precocious post-war children, with 1,838 attending the first six grades. Unfortunately there was not enough room for them. Eight temporary classrooms were created in such places as the Peabody Institute Library, Town Hall, a locker room of the Richmond School and a cafeteria of the Great Oak School. In 1955 Danvers Town Meeting voted approximately $362,000 each for a new elementary school in Danvers Highlands and on Liberty Street. The Liberty Street School was on land purchased for $10,000. The land itself had been part of Beverly until 1857 when that part of Liberty Street was named “Riverside” due to its proximity to Porters River, and the modern 10-classroom facility was open to its first students on September 5, 1956.
Just as Danversites of 1800, the 1890’s and 1950’s lived up to their important responsibilities of educating their youth in facilities conducive to good education, our contemporary citizens have continued that important and essential work in the newly added and refurbished space of the Riverside School. This newly dedicated Riverside School should continue to benefit Danversites well into the next millennium.