In 1908 the students and faculty of Inwood’s Public School 52 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their red brick schoolhouse.
The school, even a century ago, was rich in history; having been attended by members of many of region’s founding families.
The land on which the three-story building was erected had been a gift of Isaac Michael Dyckman whose colonial farmhouse still stands on Broadway and West 204th Street.
But Inwood was changing—and the rapidity of the transformation was astonishing.
The elevated subway had arrived just two years earlier and transported thousands of new arrivals from downtown. New buildings sprung up at a dizzying pace.
Old-timers, as old-timers tend to do, fondly recalled a more peaceful time—like those enjoyed by the school’s earliest pupils.
It was against this backdrop that 31-year old Charlotte Drennan Treiber penned a nostalgic ode to Public School 52. Charlotte and her husband, Fredrick, would eventually settle into an apartment house at 4919 Broadway, just a block and a half from the Academy Street schoolhouse. The Treibers had two children, William and Charlotte. William, the couple’s first child, was born the year the poem (which follows) was written.
The old building was demolished in 1956 to make room for a new facility, but thanks to Treiber’s poem the spirit of the first Inwood school house lives on.
A Tribute to Public School 52
By Charlotte Drennan Treiber
How dear to my heart is the old Black Horse Tavern,
And the large weeping willow that near Broadway grew.
And out dear little church, with its portals thrown open,
To welcome the friends that my infancy knew.
But now times have changed, and the streets have been widened.
The willows are gone, and the old tavern too;
But the church still remains, without any marked change
Except the high roads partly hiding the view.
Oh! the old deep spring well, with its clear sparkling water,
Is not far away, though quite hidden from view.
How dear to my heart is the old Inwood School House
As fond recollections present it to view.
It was there I first entered its portals of knowledge,
And played many games that my childhood once knew.
The assembly room, halls, and the classrooms were cheerful.
There were little, low benches, of which I could tell.
The first printed reading book, how often I used it,
And the brown covered blank book, from which I could spell.
Oh! the many paged blank book, so useful for lessons;
The little brown blank book, that served me so well.
How well I remember the platform’s stern warnings,
Forewarnings of things that we ought not to do;
And our dear, loving teachers, with patience untiring,
Who taught us, and drilled us, till our lessons we knew.
At that time all Inwood seemed peaceful and quiet,
But now cars have come, and brought with them much din.
By the noise unaffected, we feel very grateful
That Inwood’s more advanced than it formerly has been
Oh! the old tower school bell, the little brass hand bell,
That called us to duty, and strict discipline.
In times that are past, perhaps you remember,
The walk from the cars in the hot scorching sun,
And high Inwood Hill, with its large handsome dwellings;
That are now replaced by fine institutions,
The old Bolton Road, with its windings and turns,
Is the scene of great sport, on the long, winter nights
For some, steering bobs, might descend as like lightning,
While others, perhaps, could not steer to the right.
Oh! the old-fashioned stone walks, that toward us seemed coming;
And the light on the snow partly baffled our sight.
Charlotte Drennan Treiber