Encyclopedia of New England

Monson, Massachusetts

The State Primary School

The State Primary School, an institution of great interest, is located in the northern part of the town, overlooking the village of Palmer.

"On the 20th of May, 1852, the Legislature authorized Gov. Boutwell to appoint a Board of Commissioners to construct three almshouses for the accommodation of such persons as had no legal settlement within the State. These institutions were located in Monson, Bridgewater, and Tewksbury, were erected, in 1853, during the administration of Gov. Clifford, and were opened for occupancy May 1, 1854, by proclamation of Gov. Emory Washburn.
"On the 19th of May, 1855, the Legislature passed 'An Act providing for the Classification of State Paupers.' By this Act this institution was.- expressly 'set apart for the purpose of a State Pauper School.' This was the first attempt at classification, and went into practical operation in the month of June, the next year after the institution was opened.
"Although this Classification Act was repealed by the next Legislature, the children then here remained, and the majority of those admitted to the other almshouses were transferred to this institution for instruction till 1866, when the 'State Primary School' was established at Monson, and the 'State Workhouse' at Bridgewater, during the administration of Gov. Bullock. This Act was passed on the 3d of May, providing for all the dependent and neglected children between the ages of three and sixteen gathered in the almshouses of Bridgewater, Tewksbury, and Monson.
"By the 'Act relating to the State Visiting Agency and Juvenile Offenders,' passed June 15, 1870, power was given to judges of probate to authorize the Board of State Charities to place children arraigned before said courts in the State Primary School for such times during minority as their best interest. demanded.
"The Legislature of 1872, by an Act which took effect on the 1st day of May, 1872, abolished the almshouse at Munson, and the institution is now in name, as well as in fact, the 'State Primary School' A few mothers with children are transferred front the State almshouse at Tewksbury as helpers, and also a few children, with their mothers, brothers, or sisters, too young for admission to the Primary School, are transferred here for temporary support.
"Here the children from all the towns in the commonwealth; who have no legal settlement in any town, are sent for instruction, and other children placed in the care of the Board of State Charities by the courts are sent for discipline till fitted to return to friends, or homes are provided."

The number of persons at present supported by the institution is 537. The buildings and general appointments of the place are excellent. Experienced persons are in charge of the several departments, and the utmost cleanliness and cheerfulness pervade the institution. Space will not permit a detailed account of its special excellencies, which are well known throughout the State. From Oct. 1, 1872, to Oct. 1, 1877, 2922 persons were inmates of the institution. The principal officers in charge at present are, Superintendent, Rev. James H. Bradford; Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent of Schools, J. C. Tibbets; John B. Chapman, Clerk and Steward. A farm of 200 acres is connected with the institution.

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This page was last updated on 13 Feb 2006