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Capital Region Scrapbook: Too close for comfort (with photo gallery)

Capital Region Scrapbook: Too close for comfort (with photo gallery)

In 1954, five decades after opening, Schenectady's Nott Terrace High School was just too small. With
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Teenagers have always considered their schools wrecks. They never have anything nice to say about them.

In 1954, adults found few things to admire about Nott Terrace High School in Schenectady. With 1,500 students, the place was just too small.

Gyms for both boys and girls were cramped. Nott’s library could accommodate only 80 people and the cafeteria held only 250. Some kids ate their chips and sandwiches inside basement rooms and a second-floor study hall.

There were also problems with the fire escapes, plumbing and stairwells. The city’s original Schenectady High School had not aged well. Nott Terrace’s first building, the north wing near Union Street, was constructed in 1902 and first classes were held March 21, 1904. The south wing was built in 1911.

“The auditorium seats only 640 persons,” wrote Schenectady Gazette reporter Mary Tessier, after a late winter visit. “The stage has been called merely a platform and the backstage area is nonexistent. The entire student body can never attend the same program.”

Tessier also had a bad review for the chemistry lecture room. “It has tiered seats set at such a precipitous angle that you can see the papers of the person in the row ahead almost better than your own,” she wrote. Light in the windowless room was scarce; odors from chemistry experiments were plentiful.

“Peeling paint and dingy walls are evidence of reluctance on the part of the school board to pour money into a school designed for another era,” Tessier wrote. “While elbow grease and paint would undeniably spruce up the place, redecorating will not solve the basic problems caused by inadequate, cramped, obsolete and old-fashioned facilities.”

City residents knew about the problems, and on June 8, 1954, approved a bond referendum for the construction of a new $5 million high school. The replacement, Linton High, welcomed students to The Plaza in 1958.

Closing down

With Linton open, Nott Terrace’s north side was used as an elementary school. In 1962, the south building was torn down for the widening of Liberty Street. The elementary school closed during the early summer of 1972. Plans to convert the school into housing for senior citizens were considered impractical and expensive, so the north wing was demolished during the summer of 1974. A restaurant was built on the spot.

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