The Westfield Academy

Westfield Academy old photo

The Westfield Academy was chartered by the New York State Legislature on May 5,1837. Before this, school was held in the basement of the old Presbyterian church, under the name of the Westfield Academy. The money was raised by subscription to build a new academy. However, the school was built before all the money was raised. Additional land was purchased and the old Westfield Academy was built at a cost of $60,000. The Westfield Academy was one of the first private schools established for advanced students in Western New York.

The school was located near the current Westfield Post Office. It was a plain structure that was accented by a cupola. There was a strict focus on education in the three story structure.

The Hon. John M. Keep of Hamilton College was the first principal after the academy was chartered in 1837. He was succeeded in the spring of 1838 by Theodore Gay, A.M. of Middleburry College in Vermont. Principals that followed were Lorenzo Parsons, the Rev. Alexander Montgomery, J.E. Pillsbury, Edward W. Johnson, John C. Donaldson, Theodore Bard, S. Gerard Nye, Charles H. Brown, John C. Long, Charles E. Lane, and Abram Brown.

The Union School

the union school old photo

The Academy was privately supported until 1868 when the Union Free School Law enabled four districts, Numbers 1, 2, 7 and 11 to come together and form the Westfield Union Free School District No 1. In 1946, the district started to operate under the corporate name of Westfield Union School and West Academy & High School. The classes were held in the Old Academy while the New Academy and Union School was under construction. The old Academy was razed in 1868 and the new school building opened in the autumn of 1869. It was located at the current sight of Quality Market. John F. Fosdick was considered the first principal of the New Academy. He was credited along with other principals Preston K. Pattison and G. Fayette Dickson, by historians for the standards in high educational aims in building an excellent foundation for the new school.

The new centralized district was comprised of all the districts in the area. Several of the districts consisted of students from outside Westfield, including Portland, and Ripley. After voters approved the new district in 1946, a sight for a new school building was purchased. The state's Post-War Planning Commission assisted school officials in preparing plans and specifications for the new building.

The space at the Union School was becoming too crowded. The third floor was declared unsafe. Three grades were moved to the Paul Welch house. The place where the current school would be eventually built. Some other classes met in such places as the First United Methodist Church, Eason Hall and other village buildings.

the Academy old photo

The school building project advanced slowly because many public votes on architectural and program plans were brought up. In 1954, voters approved the proposal to build a facility for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The estimated cost of the new facility was $1,960,000. During the summer of 1955, the classroom furniture and books were moved into the new building and on September 8, 1955 the doors were opened. A formal dedication was held in November. Due to the increase in enrollment after the war, they expanded the new school in 1957. The addition consisted of a classroom wing and was approved by both the state and the district voters. The Academy and Union School that was built in 1868 was demolished in 1958. The high school building then was demolished from the weight of a wrecking ball in 1960. The high school site was sold to a grocery store chain. The villagers petitioned to save the ginkgo and copper beech trees in the former school yard, and the trees are still standing today.

The Westfield Central School District still continues to strive for the same high academic ideals set by the founders of the Westfield Academy in 1837. In its search for academic excellence and to prepare students for productive and fulfilled lives in the 21st century, programs have been expanded to meet the needs of all students. In 1995-96 the school was expanded to include a new band room, chorus room, computer lab, science rooms and a gymnasium. Then again in 1998-99 the school was expanded to included four new arts rooms and an extensive technology and agricultural department. Extracurricular programs have been adapted and expanded to respond to new state regulations and the needs of the students. There is a ski club, environmental club, key club, builders club(middle school), debate team, and many other extracurricular activities.

Current WACS Building

Current Westfield building photo

The Current WACS building that stands today. The construction of the music, library, and gymnasium was completed in 1996. The Art/Technology wing was completed in January 1999.

Created by: Kari Szymczak and Trevor Hardy (1998)