The History of Eleanor Van Gelder

The Eleanor Van Gelder School was built in 1914. The cornerstone was laid on September 30, 1913. At that time it was called School #1. Prior to the building of the school, a little wooden one-room schoolhouse was the original #1 School on Undercliff Avenue. On December 14, 1914, the new brick building was dedicated. In 1935, Miss Van Gelder, the only teacher at the school, wept as her beloved old schoolhouse was torn down. She salvaged the old bell that hung in the wooden structure and had it placed in the building which bears her name, Eleanor Van Gelder School. It is now proudly displayed in the second floor main stairwell along with a brief history of the bell.

Throughout the years, Edgewater has had a roller-coaster enrollment in our schools. In the 1970’s, Eleanor Van Gelder housed the upper grades until eighth grade. The old George Washington School serviced the lower elementary students.

As the population of Edgewater declined, the George Washington School was rented out and the Eleanor Van Gelder School became the only elementary school in Edgewater. During the 1990’s, the EVG school had classes from pre-school to sixth grade. Students from seventh grade on attended Leonia Middle School and then went on to Leonia High School.

In 1992, a referendum was passed to expand EVG. In 1997, the construction of five new classrooms, a computer lab, art room, science lab, and expanded library was completed. On January 28th, 2003, a referendum was passed for further expansion of EVG. This expansion included 9 new classrooms and a brand new gymnasium.

In the later 2000’s, the population of Edgewater increased dramatically. Classes of each grade level went from 2 per grade to 4 or 5 per grade level. In 2012, the new George Washington School was built and created an early elementary school for Pre-K through 2nd grade. Currently, the Eleanor Van Gelder School services students in grades three through six.

By: Katie Ryu, Grade 5