aka Abraham Lincoln School
North 28th Street & River Road
The Stockton Board of Education built the Beideman School about 1865. It was originally called the Abraham Lincoln School. The building stood on a stone foundation and had a wooden frame, with four rooms on each of two floors.
The annexation of Stockton, in April 1899, brought eight new schools into the Camden school system. They were:
Blaine School, Third (now 30th) and Green Streets.
Washington School, Fourth (now 27th) and Cambridge Streets.
Lincoln School, 28th Street and River Rd. (now River Avenue)
Rosedale School, 3rd Street and Westfield Avenue;
Harrison School, State (now Marlton Ave.) and High Streets;
Garfield School, 29th and Master (now Cramer) Streets;
McKinley School, 35th and Benson Streets;
Catto School, 30th and Erie (now Saunders) Streets.
Camden now had two schools named for Lincoln, one in East Camden and one on Kaighn Avenue. The commission changed the name of the Lincoln School on Kaighn Avenue to the Claudius W Bradshaw School, in memory of the former Democratic Mayor, who recently died. The wisdom of the name change, however, was "questioned by many sections, because Mr. Bradshaw had never been identified with the public schools."
Charlotte V. Dover was named by the Camden Board of Education to be the principal of the Lincoln School on River Road.
In January 1904 the Claudius W. Bradshaw School on Kaighn Avenue was renamed the Abraham Lincoln School, and the Lincoln School on River Road was renamed the Benjamin C. Beideman School. Benjamin C. Beideman (1837-1898) lived in Beideman station in East Camden, He was one of the best-known men in Camden County. He worked tirelessly for his church, and was held in high regard by much of Stockton Township, which comprised what is known today as East Camden and Cramer Hill.
In order to economize, the board closed the Linden and Blaine Schools, on June 30, 1932. The school board told the Board of School Estimate that it needed $2,224,000 for construction and furnishing of new schools, and a high school gymnasium. The Board of School Estimate encouraged them to obtain the money from the U. S. Government, through the PWA, for grants and loans. Camden's superintendent aof schools, Dr. Leon N. Neulen prepared a report in collaboration with Albert Austermuhl, secretary of the Board of Education, which the board used as a basis for new-school construction. The report included "changes which will be caused by slum elimination, trend of moving population, walking distances to school, etc. These schools are to be combined: Stevens and Central; Starr and Liberty; Blaine and Beideman; Bergen and Powell."
Charles Elliott, Commissioner of Education, wrote, "The Beideman School... is unsuitable from the stand-point of comfort, health and safety of the pupils ... Discontinue use of this building for school purposes."
By 1935, the bricks were deteriorating and failing. The interior and exterior of the building were dilapidated, window frames were rotting, and in some places, the glass was ready to fall out. The shingles were loose and the roof leaked. The school's heating system, a cast iron sectional steam boiler with wall pipe radiation, did not properly heat the building; stairs, floors, and corridors were all wood, much of which was in poor condition, and the chimney above the roof was falling apart. The Commissioner wrote, "This building is a fire trap." The Beideman School closed June 30, 1935, and the board permanently closed the Evered School, whose condition was just as bad, on the same day..
At the November 1936 meeting of the Board of Education, Mrs. Calvin W. Chambers and Mrs. Baker, President of the Washington School PTA, told the board that the Washington School, whose capacity was 400 students, needed more rooms. They insisted that a new school was only part of a much larger picture. The Washington School was almost 300 students over capacity, because the board closed and demolished the Blaine School in June 1932, and then closed the Beideman School in June 1935, without replacing them. Although four additional rooms opened in the basement of the Washington School, for kindergarten classes, in space previously used by the manual training and domestic science classes, they really had not contributed to easing the overcrowding, and special classes did not end until 4:30 P.M. She requested that the board reopen the Beideman School and the four classrooms on the first floor used for grades one through three.
After a discussion about the Beideman School, the board decided that if the school were safe enough for use by teenagers at night, then it was good enough for children, under the supervision of teachers, by day. However, many in the audience felt that the board was using the Beideman School as a political football; so, the board resolved to apply to the government for a grant, loan, or both in order to erect a school in the 11th ward to replace the Beideman School. Commissioner Hartmann congratulated the board on being,
“The first Board of Education that has ever listened to what the school people said, and then did something about it. Not so long ago the people of North Camden came here requesting the Board not tear down the Linden School. The louder the people yelled the faster the school came down. We have a similar condition in North Camden. Imagine little children coming all the way from 12th and Federal [Streets] to 7th and Vine [Streets] .... This afternoon at a meeting of the Board of Estimates, they very definitely went on record against a forty-room school being built .... The Board of Estimates will not take further action until the Property Committee makes a recommendation.”
The board sought bids from various house-wrecking concerns for razing the Beideman School. Commissioner von Nieda begged the board to allow the Community Center Association to continue to use the school, but they felt that the best thing to do was to raze the school, sell the property, and use the funds, just as they did with the Blaine School. Von Nieda insisted that the board was not listening to the people. It was 6 against 600. Mr. Wolf, another member of the association, argued that the board should wait until the Supreme Court ruled on the three new board members. Mr. Munger maintained that there was nothing wrong with the building; it's just not a modern school, and he either lied or forgot when he told the board that the Department of Education did not condemn the Beideman School because it was a firetrap. He was a builder and knew firetraps. The Department of Education condemned the school, he insisted, because it was not up-to-date for school purposes, and asserted that the building itself, with a few minor repairs, will stand for a thousand years. He wanted the board to let the building stand until the board erected a new one. The board previously sent word to the fire chief to inspect the building, but to date he had not issued a report. The following month, the board awarded Moore House Wrecking Co. the bid to raze the Beideman School, for $180.
Thanks to Fred Reiss, Ed.D. , for writing the defining book on public education in Camden prior to 1948, PUBLIC EDUCATION IN CAMDEN, N.J.- From Inception to Integration, from which much of the above history of the Kaighn School is derived.
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