RARITAN, NJ – The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders marked the transfer of the former Washington School property on First Avenue to the Borough of Raritan during a brief ceremony on Monday,
The Freeholder Board and Raritan officials also formally dedicated a monument on the property, created using bricks, a cornerstone and ornamental windows from the former school building.
Among those attending the event were Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione and Freeholder Patricia Walsh, and Raritan Mayor Chuck McMullin and the borough’s Historic & Cultural Committee, represented by Jim Fidacaro. Also in attendance were former Principal Wilson Bethard and Ann Navatto, a member of the school’s first graduating class; they were joined by a number of former teaches and other former students.
“Washington School served generations of students and later was home to a county senior center and a number of county offices,” said Scaglione. “Although the building is gone, we’re pleased to turn over the property to the Borough of Raritan for eventual re-purposing.”
Washington School was opened in 1936 as the Junior High School. It served as a school in the Bridgewater-Raritan School District until 1979. It was the first Raritan school that had a gymnasium; the gym was used frequently for evening sports for the next 70 years.
From 1980 to 2017, the school building was used for Somerset County satellite offices – mainly Human Services, but also Emergency Management, the Tax Board and the county Superintendent of Schools. The county’s Raritan Senior Center was located here also until it relocated in 2016 to the new Senior Wellness Center at Bridgewater next to the ballpark.
Demolition of the school building was completed in October 2017; site cleanup and restoration was completed in December. Somerset County is selling the property to the Borough of Raritan for $1.
The 17-foot monument contains the engraved stone plaque with the school name, salvaged from the stonework surrounding the main entry of the school. The cornerstone also came from the school, along with the two ornamental rose windows. The bricks, including the water-table rowlock bricks, also were salvaged from the school.
The monument was designed by Richard Close of the Somerset County Engineering Division and was constructed as part of the building demolition project. The contractor was Konkus Corp. of Branchburg.