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Public Schools

Parochial Schools




Second School (replica?), Montauk Hwy, about 1830


Third School, Montauk Hwy, built 1859


Grammar/High School, built 1888,
showing middle section added 1895 (right)


Grammar/High School, postmarked  July 8, 1907


Grammar/High School showing 1905 rear wing (left),
postmarked August 11, 1919


Grammar/High School from rear showing 1910
"chicken coops" and Band ready for parade

Classroom 1922


Chemistry Lab 1922

 Images: Top row, left Sayville Public Schools Calendar 1986-1987; right and
2nd and 3rd rows, collection of Sayville Library; fourth row, Sayville Public Schools Calendar 1986-1987

FIRST SCHOOL:  It appears that Sayville's first formal school was built about 1800 on land donated by the Edwards family on the south side of Montauk Highway about where the railroad overpass is now.  It was a 200 square foot log cabin constructed with lumber that had been cut down to make room for it.  It was only in use for the three winter months of the year, taught by an itinerant teacher or by those few town's people who were knowledge enough to do so.  In 1820, it was moved to the north side about where the fire house is today.

SECOND SCHOOL:  In 1825, the second replaced the first; it was an improved building with a more substantial stove replacing the former fireplace. John Wood, only 19 years old, the first permanent teacher, arrived in 1838 by which time there were enough children to have a ten-month school term; he received $12 a month and "boarded around" with students' families, staying a week for the number of children the family had in school (one child/one week, two children/two weeks, etc.). Wood eventually became Islip Town Supervisor and also wrote the first History of Sayville, presented on July 1, 1876. Students finally outgrew the one-room schoolhouse.

THIRD SCHOOL: In 1859, a two story, two-room (later expanded to four-room) clapboard building was built, approximately on the site of the present Fire Department at North Main and Lincoln Avenue.  Homer F. Candee, who had taught at a private school in the home of Wilson J. Terry, became Principal with three teachers; after educational use, it was sold for a residence and demolished in 1935 to make space for the Fire House. Following the Civil War, the student body included some children from surrounding towns who came to Sayville for the upper grades; that provided an interesting situation because some spoke Dutch, some Bohemian, the balance only English.

SAYVILLE GRAMMAR/HIGH SCHOOL, 88 Greene Avenue: In 1885, a two-and-one-half acre plot was on the west side of Greene Avenue was acquired for $900 for a larger school; it was midway between the railroad and Main Street and stretched back 528 feet to Greeley Avenue (then a private road).  The school building was later designed by I.H. Green, Jr., with a footprint 91 feet north to south, 49 1/2 feet east to west and a tower height of 77 1/2 feet. There were four classrooms, each seating 50 children, on each floor; a full cellar with (some years later) rest rooms; and an attic. Robert Nunns constructed it in 1888 for $ 13,350 and it opened on January 1, 1889 with five teachers and 375 students registered. The formal dedication march and program was held February 1. At the time, State law required that all children between the ages of seven and sixteen attend school; children over eleven who "worked for a living" had to attend at least 14 weeks. Eight grades were grouped into three departments: primary (for age five and over), intermediate (grades 3 to 6) and grammar (7 and 8); those who satisfactorily completed them all received a "Grammar School Diploma". Despite registration and law, initial daily attendance averaged only 193. However, two more teachers were hired in 1890.. Until this time, students wishing to go beyond elementary school - if they had the aptitude and the money - might go to another town or New York City to attend High School or Latin School. In 1892, Sayville enrolled its first High School student, Anna L. Green who, after taking her Regents exams at Patchogue in 1894 and in Sayville in 1895, became its first graduate, receiving a Regents diploma in a (single) student Commencement held at the Congregational Church, June 24, 1895; in 1896, six graduates - four ladies and two gentlemen - received their diplomas in ceremonies at the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1894, the student body had reached 480; on December 7, local residents had voted to become a Union Free School District,  a "union of two or more common school districts, "free" from restrictions that barred it from operating high schools; this also permitted a school to offer State Regents examinations as well as to  receive State aid (in addition to real estate taxes and non-resident fees) for support.  In 1894-95, the middle section of eight more classrooms was added to the building at a cost of $ 6,000; one room was set aside as the "High School". In 1905, the last addition added six more  classrooms and principal's office in the new rear section at a cost of $ 15,000. In 1905, among the 12 Union Free Districts in Suffolk County, the average annual cost for each child was about $ 30, each teacher averaging 35 pupils; in Sayville, it was only $ 17.50 per child because each teacher had about 45 students. In 1910, two "temporary" structures were placed behind the Sayville School building, one housing Industrial Arts (General Shop) for boys and the other providing two additional classrooms; they became known as the "chicken coops". As the 1920s approached the School was again approaching capacity. On December 14, 1920, voters approved $ 7,500, a bankruptcy bargain,  to purchase land adjoining the north border of the Sayville School property, fronting 423 feet along Greeley to and along Railroad Street, then south 252 feet on Green Avenue; it was to be used as a playground and site of a future school. In 1928, Sarah Edwards originated the first Kindergarten in the first-floor south front room. With the advent of Tyler Avenue in 1925, the separate High School in 1928 and the new Greene Avenue Elementary in 1938, Old '88 was eventually left with only the Junior High School. During WW II, local student and adult volunteers manned it's bell tower (one of the highest spots on the Island) 24/7, alert for the possible approach of German aircraft to New York City;  a few Germans did land secretly on the beach on the East end of the Island but no planes ever showed up. All classes ended in Old '88  in 1957 when a new High School was completed on Brook Street and the existing High School was converted to the Junior High School. From 1958 to October 1962, the building became the site of the Suffolk campus of Adelphi College while its administration searched for a more permanent location. Adelphi had been conducting extension courses in several locations which were consolidated in Sayville and it became the first private, co-ed liberal arts college in the County.  The College moved to the old Vanderbilt Estate in Oakdale in October 1964 and later became Dowling. (Adelphi has more recently returned to Sayville; see Sayville Downtown Center below). After some renovation, Old '88 was the headquarters of the Sayville School District until it was destroyed by fire on December 14, 1969.



West Sayville Elementary School, dedicated 1925



Sayville High School, dedicated 1928


The Sayville High School, looking south on Greene Avenue, in the 1930's


Sarah Edwards' Kindergarten Class, 1936



Sayville High School, first Jazz Band, 1937



Greene Avenue Elementary, under construction 1937


Greene Avenue Elementary,  completed 1938

Images: Collection of Sayville Library except 2nd rowleft, courtesy of John Wells

WEST SAYVILLE PRIMARY SCHOOL, Tyler Avenue: In early 1922, voters approved $2,000 to acquire land on the west side of Tyler Avenue for a primary school in West Sayville. As with the 1920 purchase of the north Greene Avenue property, bonds were also issued for this transaction.  The School was built at a cost of $21,400  and opened on February 16, 1925; it had four classrooms and was intended for grades one through three. With the opening of Cherry Avenue Elementary,  the BOE had planned to close this School in 1960 but a surge in local enrollment delayed this.  It officially closed in April 1963 after students were transferred to the newly completed ten-room addition at Cherry Avenue. Thereafter, the District used it as a Maintenance Center but, recently, that has been moved to a new building on Garfield Avenue and the Tyler building is no longer in use (2014).

 SAYVILLE HIGH SCHOOL, 30 Greene Avenue:  Construction of a new, fireproof building on the upper Greene Avenue property, acquired in December 1920, was begun in October 1926 and was built at a cost of $338,000; with much fanfare, it was dedicated on January 21, 1928.  At the first Commencement in the new edifice, 23 graduated. However, the school population continued to rise. A survey in early 1936 showed that there were  650 in the non-fireproof Grammar School and 501 in the High School built for 350. In August 1946, the High School began double sessions for first time. It should be noted that for some years and until 1960, students from Oakdale, Bohemia, Ronkonkoma and Holbrook came to Sayville for High School for which non-resident fees were charged by the District. A new High School opened on Brook Street in 1957; the facilities on Greene Avenue were renovated and re-dedicated on February 9, 1960 as the Sayville Junior High School. In turn, that moved to the new Sayville Middle School  in September 1972.  Since that time, the building on Greene has housed a variety of activities including several Town of Islip Offices and its Senior Citizen's Center and the Sayville Boy's Club; it is now known as the Sayville Downtown Center, the result of a unique partnership between Adelphi University and Suffolk County Community College.  It offers transfer options to students seeking to pursue studies and attain a bachelor's degree as well as flexible course study for registered nurses.    

SAYVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 100 Greene Avenue:  After one rejection, on October 14, 1937 voters - by a narrow margin of 17 - approved a bond issue of $392,500 for a new Elementary School. There was some delay in acquiring the desired property, adjoining Old '88 on the south, because one of the six parcels involved had to be acquired by eminent domain; however the new school opened to students in September 1939 and was formerly dedicated on November 10. The building was used  as a regular elementary school until June 1979. In August 1979, BOCES took over the structure and, ever since, has been using it for grades 1 through 6 for children with disabilities. 

The girls of Mrs. Barbara Warner's 6th grade class,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, late 1950s

Mrs. Barbara Warner's sixth grade class in front of
Greene Elementary School, late 1950s.

Students of Mrs. Barbara Warner's 6th grade class,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, late 1950s.

Mrs. Barbara Warner's 6th grade boys,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, late 1950s.

Mrs. Barbara Warner's 6th grade class,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, late 1950s.

The boys of Mrs. Barbara Warner's 6th grade class,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, late 1950s.

Barbara Warner, 6th grade teacher,
Greene Avenue Elementary School, Late 1950's

Images: All from collection of Sayville Library

The 1950s brought three new school buildings in Sayville.  Initially, in April 1953 the Board of Education, out looking for sites for future expansion before developers grabbed all of the ideal spots, discovered the level 22 1/2 acre former Pausewang Airport on Hopkins Street between Johnson and Lincoln Avenues. Purchase was approved by voters 270/83 on June 11; however, the BOE offer of $ 25,000 for the property was refused by Robert Kinsey, its owner, who desired to keep it for his trucking business. The BOE then attempted to obtain it by condemnation which sparked a long trail of litigation and re-appraisals before the BOE finally acquired the land in the early 1960s. In March 1955, the BOE announced that, unless a new elementary and a new high school were constructed within the next two years, double sessions would be required.  Three new possible locations were identified and packaged into one $158,000 bond issue which was overwhelmingly (629 / 93) approved by the voters on April 26 and led to the following.

CHERRY AVENUE ELEMENTARY , 155  Cherry Avenue: The first to be built on an 18.83 acre parcel on the east side of Cherry north of Brook Street at a cost of $965,000; it had 14 classrooms, gymnasium, combination auditorium/cafeteria, large playground and could accommodate 450 pupils. It opened September 9, 1957; a formal dedication followed on October 7. Over Easter vacation 1963, children from Tyler Avenue and sixth graders temporarily housed at the Junior High and Sunrise Drive were transferred to a new 10-room addition at Cherry which was opened on April 22. In 2010, another addition included a library/media center and enlarged the main office.

SAYVILLE HIGH SCHOOL, 20 Brook Street: Constructed at a cost of $3,466,296 on a 27 acre site just a block down Cherry on the southeast corner of Brook, it opened the following September 1958, dedicated October 13. A movement to call it "West Sayville High School" was defeated. Estimated capacity was 1,000 pupils. Building had 29 classrooms; home economics suite; business practice and secretarial suite; chemistry, physics and biology labs; industrial arts shop; mechanical drawing room; band and choral rooms; 400 seat cafeteria; 800 seat auditorium; 100 x 96 foot gymnasium, one of largest on Island; and large outdoor athletic space. In 1971, an addition and alterations provided a new library, six more classrooms, art and mechanical drawing rooms, a large group instruction area and an additional cafeteria area. Subsequent additions in 1991, 2002, 2003,and 2010  provided a new music room, science laboratory, a second floor on the English section and a wellness center (auxiliary gymnasium).

SUNRISE DRIVE ELEMENTARY, 320 Sunrise Drive: The third parcel of the April 1955 land package, was 16 acres located just south of the former Sayville Airport (see Business: North of the Tracks) and held for future use.  By another vote of $ 1.1 million, Sunrise was built on this plot. It had 20 classrooms, gymnasium, combined cafeteria-auditorium and was to accommodate 600 students. It opened, not entirely finished because of a labor dispute, in September 1960 and was dedicated April 11,1961. A 12-classroom addition was added in 1964 to accommodate children in this area, the fastest growing segment of Sayville (For photo, also see Business: North of the Tracks - Sayville Airport). In 1971, the School's Library was expanded to afford double its original floor space. In 2006, the cafeteria-auditorium was more than doubled in size to 5400 square feet with a larger stage, state-of-the-art equipment, and all handicap-accessible. In 2010, the library was renovated to include a media center.

LINCOLN AVENUE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 440 Lincoln Avenue:  Having succeeded in winning the Kinsey property after many years of litigation and re-appraisals, the BOE selected its architect for this School in July 1964 but soon thereafter shelved its plans because Sunrise was undergoing an expansion and there had been a dip in elementary enrollment.  However, the dip was short,  a vote was finally held on the $ 1.6 million cost of the building on July 21, 1966 and the school construction, slowed down by late delivery of materials, was completed sufficiently for opening for grades 1 through 6 on September 18, 1967; unfortunately, at that time, some library, cafeteria, special class and kindergarten rooms were still incomplete. In 2010, additions included two kindergarten rooms two classrooms and a library/media center.

 MIDDLE SCHOOL, 291 Johnson Avenue:  In April 1969, voters approved acquisition of a 27.7 acre parcel on Johnson Avenue for $223,000 for a new Junior High School; classes at the existing Junior High School had already overflowed into the Greene Avenue Elementary School and the High School was having overlapping sessions for the 11th and 12th grades. The target opening for the new (renamed Middle) School was September 1971 but it was not ready until September 1972; consequently, students had continuing overlapping sessions in their quarters at 30 Greene Avenue. In 1977, a swimming pool was added and the library has also been renovated to include a media center. Currently, Sayville Public School enrollment has dropped significantly from the  4,500 - 5,000 level of the 1960s-1970s  to about 3,000 in 2013-2014: Elementary (K-5) 1,350, Middle (6-8) 741, High (9-12), 1008.


Cherry Avenue (2014 photo), built 1956


High School (2014 photo), built 1957


Sunrise Drive (2014 photo), built 1961


Lincoln Avenue (2014 photo), built 1967


Old '88, remains, Rear Wing, December 15, 1969


Old '88, demolition February 1970

Old '88, demolition February 1970

The pediment of "Old 88" following demolition of the remains of the school after the fire that destroyed it in 1969, now hangs in the Sayville Library Children's Department.  


Middle School (2014 photo), built 1972

Images: All from collection of Sayville Library except 3rd row left, courtesy of Sayville Public Schools

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Oak Hall, 2nd Floor, Foster House



St. Barnabas Chapel, second home of Academy

ST. JOHN'S ACADEMY, 74 South Main Street:   In 1845, the Town of Islip had only two churches, one being St. John's Episcopal in Oakdale of which Sayville was a Mission.  The Reverend Charles Douglas believed that his Church - St. John's - was too far from his greater potential congregation in Sayville and that the establishment of a daily Episcopal School in Sayville would attract more children and their families to his organization. Finally, about August 1864, he found rental space for St. John's Academy in Oak Hall, the second floor of the newly constructed Foster House on South Main Street. The Academy, advertised as a "Classical, French and English Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentlemen", operated two 22-week terms beginning in August and January each year.  Education was divided into three levels: " Preparatory: English Branches; Intermediate: English and all its Branches and French; and Academic and Collegiate: Ancient Languages, Higher Mathematics, Natural Sciences and French".  Tuitions, respectively, were $10, $16 and $20 per term; vocal Music was included for all students at no extra charge.   Graduates received a "suitable testimonial from the Rector". In 1865, student enrollment was 60 (28 males, 32 females). In March 1866, Bayport resident John R. Suydam bought about 12 acres of land on the north side of Middle Road west of the wetlands (now site of St. Ann's Church) from the James M. Edwards family for $550 and advanced $700 to build a church on that property.  Although Mr. Douglas' initial idea was that the building become a school, it soon after also became a church. St. John's Academy moved from the Foster House to the new wooden building, probably in August 1966, and the first church service was also held there on November 7; in 1867, the name St. John's Academy was replaced as St. Barnabas Chapel. On November 1, Mr. Suydam sold the property for $1,600 to Mr. Douglas who later conveyed it to the Diocese of Long Island. The School (a/k/a "The Day School in the Chapel") continued until spring 1971 when it closed "for want of a suitable teacher". Mr. Douglas resigned in November 1871, married a former teacher at St. John's, Isabella Lawson, and  took a new parish in New Jersey. Both are buried in St. Ann's Cemetery. The School never re-opened.

For further details, see:  Charles G. Stevenson, But As Yesterday. Sayville, NY, St. Ann's Church: 1967

Images from collection of  Sayville Library


St. Lawrence Parochial School, built 1924-25



School and Original Auditorium, 1959



Entrance expanded School & new Auditorium, 1995

ST. LAWRENCE PAROCHIAL SCHOOL, 200 Main Street:  In late 1914, the Thomas Otto property adjoining St. Lawrence Church to the east was acquired by the Church for a future convent and parochial school.  In 1920, the Church's current debt having been wiped out, the Church began planning for the School; in February 1921, the existing Auditorium (built 1912, see Churches) was remodeled,  partitioning it into classrooms.  On September 9, the School opened with 85 pupils in grades 1 through 6.  It was administered and taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame. Ten students received their first diplomas on June 23, 1924. Two weeks earlier, on  June 10, John Beintema had begun excavating a 52 x 60 x 7 1/2 foot cellar for a new building for St. Lawrence Parochial School. The  quarters in the Auditorium had become overcrowded; when the new brick, fireproof structure, which cost about $65,000,  formally opened on September 14, 1925, its estimated capacity was 400 (eight classrooms, each with 45 to 50 students).  Consequently, only the first floor was to be used for the approximately 150 students anticipated at that time; on the second was one "lodge" room for the various Catholic associations (Knights, Daughters, etc.) and three reserve classrooms. Bishop Thomas Molloy from Brooklyn and about twenty priests from the Diocese were among the 600 guests at the dedication on September 27. By 1955, the student body had expanded to 450 with 200 on the waiting list and funds were being raised for an addition. The old auditorium was demolished and as contracts for construction of an addition on the rear of the school, adding eight additional classrooms and a new auditorium, were awarded in January 1960; construction was completed in 1962. In 1967, the student body was about 700; the faculty of 16 included five Sisters of Notre Dame. In the latter part of the Century, Catholic schools on Long Island were faced with declining enrollment and increasing costs and some of the schools were having serious financial problems.  Consequently, in 1990, the Diocese moved to close some and consolidate others into Regional Schools encompassing nearby parishes.  In 1992, Sayville was renamed Prince of Peace School, a Regional school for Sayville, Bayport, Bohemia and Holbrook, offering grades up to 6. In January 2004, having only 221 students  (including some from more distant towns such as Patchogue and Babylon), POP announced that it planned to add grades 7 and 8 within the next two years. (It had dropped them several years previously.). Nevertheless, it did not appear to solve the financial problem and Prince of Peace closed in June 2012.

Images: top row, collection of Sayville Library
Bottom row left, Souvenir Journal of St. Lawrence School 1959;
right, " In This Place: The First 100 Years of St. Lawrence Parish", 1995


West Sayville Christian School (2014 photo), built 1948

WEST SAYVILLE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, 37 Rollstone Avenue:  In March 1944, a Society for Christian Instruction was organized at the Christian Reformed Church of West Sayville (see Churches: Christian Reformed Church). On June 4, 1946, the Society was granted permission to use the chapel for Christian instruction and classes were begun in the fall of 1946 (at the Church at 52 Atlantic Avenue). In April 1948, the Society decided to build a two-room schoolhouse at 37 Rollstone Avenue; 50 men offered to donate labor in their spare time under the supervision of John Boogertmann, builder. The parent Christian Reformed Church eventually bought adjacent land on Rollstone Avenue and built a new church building at 31 which was dedicated  April 23, 1968. The School has expanded and now offers grades kindergarten through 8, offering Spanish in the upper two grades, and also has a cooperating program with home-school families. Its present enrollment is about 65.  

Image from collection of Sayville Library 

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