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Lakeside Heritage Trail
29. Stone School House
720 Walnut Avenue
Stone School 1968
Stone School 2008
By the early 20th century, Lakeside and the Marblehead Peninsula’s increasing number of merchants motivated the Danbury Board of Education to explore possibilities for a new school building. The Lakeside Association agreed to lease the property on Seventh Street between Walnut and Central Avenues to the Danbury Board. The Lakeside Stone School was constructed on the property in 1911-1912 with native limestone from the Marblehead quarry. The new school opened on September 30, 1912.
From 1912 through 1922, all 12 grades met in the school. However, the student population continued to grow and planning began for another school on Route 163. The Stone School graduated its last and largest high school class of 15 seniors in 1922. Danbury High School was opened in 1923, while the Stone School continued to serve elementary grade students until the spring of 1956. At that point, the Board of Education chose to expand the Route 163 high school, adding new space for the primary grades. The Stone School was closed and for the first time since 1883, Lakeside was without a public school on its grounds.
The Board of Education continued to use the stone building for storage until its deteriorating condition made it unsuitable. In 1962, the Lakeside Association purchased the building at public auction and completed minor renovations, including the addition of bunk beds, bathrooms and showers. The Stone School was renamed Asbury Hall for use as a boys’ dormitory and summer youth institute housing. Attendance at youth programming fell, building’s condition continued to worsen and the building was closed by the mid-1970s.
Since Asbury Hall’s closure, a number of possibilities have been considered for its use. Ideas have included senior housing, a performing arts center and a museum. A 2007 project sought to promote further dialogue on possibilities for the vacant building and a group of over 100 Lakesiders gathered to paint a collection of murals to mount on the window panes. Some of these art pieces are visible still today.
Conversations continue about the future use of this historic structure. Currently the space around the stone school is being used to host a bi-weekly community farmers’ market. Twice a week local bakers and farmers sell a variety of organic produce and baked goods. Lakeside’s landscaping department also uses the space for storage and staging. The property includes a community garden for Lakesiders’ use as well.