±16 Conant Street

 
Conant Street School | Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall

The Conant Street school was built in 1869 on land purchased by the town from the estate of Abigail and Silas Loomis. For many years, the school system segregated children by grades among the various school houses. As home to the first and second grades, Conant Street was known as the “baby school.” It was later used for the schooling of mentally impaired children, according to an account published in The New Beacon of 11 June 1958, and viewable in Book 2 of the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell.

“Each class had from 12 to 15 students who were taught all the regular school curriculum, adapted to their needs, as well as arts and crafts,” The New Beacon noted. The school closed down in about 1931, during the early years of the Great Depression.

By the late 1930s, the building had come back to life as the headquarters of the Lewis A. Young Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which was a large and influential civic body, as well as an important social organization. The veterans held on to it until 1958, when they sold the building to Manuel Cabral, who needed more parking space for his Bonnie Dune Restaurant at 35 Bradford Street, which is now the Mussel Beach Health Club. The veterans built a new hall on Jerome Smith Road that is still in use. And a parking lot still marks the spot where the “baby school” once stood.

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