Written by Evan Engelhart
Lakeside’s First Elementary School Built 1883, closed 1912. Became a house; still in use.
On the northeast corner of Cedar Avenue and East Seventh Street sits a gray cottage. In 1883, Lakeside set aside three lots at this corner to be sold for $1 to the Danbury Township Board of Education. The school house erected here in 1883 was Lakeside’s first elementary school, serving children until the stone school at Maple Avenue opened in 1912.
The elementary school on this site was sold to a local contractor, George Pettibone, who turned the building 90 degrees (the west side became the north side) and made it a house for his family of four children. The cottage at 663 Cedar is Lakeside’s first elementary school. (George Pettibone was the contractor for Lakeside’s first pavilion built in 1909 at the dock.)
Lakeside High School Built 1891, closed 1912. Building remodeled to a house; razed in 2003.
Built in 1891, Lakeside High School was the first high school for Danbury Peninsula until the stone school opened in 1912. The main floor was supported by black walnut timbers and it had 12-foot ceilings. The first graduation from this school was held in Bradley Temple in 1892, with four girls graduating. The building was converted to a house after its use as a high school and eventually demolished in 2003.
Lakeside Intermediate School Opened 1900 in former church, closed 1912.
Prior to 1875, Methodists in the Danbury Peninsula area met in a small frame one-room chapel without a steeple built in 1860. This church was located on the north side of Route163, just west of what is now Hartshorn Road. After Lakeside was established, the small Methodist Episcopal congregation built a chapel in Lakeside at the NW corner of Maple Avenue and Third Street in 1875, Heritage Hall.
The Methodist congregation sold their former chapel on Route 163 to the Congregational Church. In 1894, the Congregational Church moved the former Methodist chapel from Route 163 about one mile east to the lot immediately east of the K.I. transformer station, now an empty lot. The members of the Congregational Church worshipped at the chapel located here until 1900 when they built their present stone church in Marblehead.
By 1900, Lakeside was a booming year-round community with many merchant class families involved in various businesses in Lakeside and Marblehead. With Lakeside’s elementary school on Cedar Avenue being overcrowded, The Danbury Board of Education purchased and remodeled the former Congregational Church on Route 163 for use as an Intermediate School. The building served this capacity until 1912, when the stone school opened.
After being owned by the Carroll Brothers for some time, the building was converted into a duplex, then remodeled again into a single dwelling purchased in 1970 by Betty Buhrow.
In 1999, when the Lakeside Association was starting to expand the south parking lot, they bought Buhrow’s house. Lakeside sold the house to a contractor who moved the house in 2000 to the lot at 640 Oak Avenue. So, the building that started out as a Methodist Chapel in 1860 is located in Lakeside today as a single family cottage.
Stone School House Built 1912, closed 1956. Still standing today.
By 1912, Lakeside decided to consolidate all three schools (elementary, intermediate, and high school), leading to the construction of the school house built of native limestone from the quarry. The school housed six classrooms, for 1st through 12th grade. Almost from the beginning, the building was overcrowded. It was used for grades 9 to 12 for only 11 years, when current day Danbury High School opened on Route 163 in 1923.
From 1923 until spring 1956, the stone school building served primary grades school on the first floor and intermediate grades on the upper floor. The grass circles on the school grounds are remaining indications of the original merry-go-rounds used by the children.
In September 1956, all Danbury Township public school classes were consolidated following the addition built on the south side of the high school. Lakeside was now without a public school on its grounds for the first time since 1883.
The vacant stone school was used for storage by the Danbury Township Board of Education for several years, until it was offered for sale to the Lakeside Association. In 1963, Lakeside purchased the school building for $2,500. Lakeside’s original plan was to renovate the school building for use as a dormitory for 100 youth and counselors attending Methodist Youth Fellowship summer institutes. With the addition of iron bunk beds, bathrooms and showers, the building was renamed Ashbury Hall. It was used as a dormitory, first for boys and then co-ed housing until the mid-1970s.