WILLIAM F. POWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
1000 Linden Street

 

The WILLIAM F. POWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL School was built in 1926, during the administration of Mayor Victor King, at 10th and Linden Streets in North Camden, to replace the Linden School, which had opened in 1890, with Miss Anna Johntra as principal of the boys' department and Miss Frankie Messler the first principal of the girls' department. Miss Johntra was appointed principal of both departments in December of 1905, and remained at the helm of the Linden School until her retirement in June of 1916. 

Although the Linden School was relatively now by Camden's standards, several schools in use being decades older, it was deemed inadequate. The growing population of students in the neighborhood of the Linden School had required the utilization of portable school buildings. 

In 1925 the Camden Board of Education's informed the board that,

Your committee decided further to recommend that the name 'William F. Powell' be given the new school on Tenth Street. Mr. Powell was Principal of the old Mount Vernon School in the city for many years and left his position to accept an appointment in the diplomatic service of the government as Minister to Haiti. Your Committee feels that Mr. Powell's service in the schools of this city and his contribution to the educational history of the city have been such as to make it highly appropriate to name a school in his honor.

The board accepted this recommendation and a related one transferring the name of the old Charles Sumner School building at ferry Avenue and Philip Street to the new school building on South 8th Street north of Van Hook Street..

William Frank Powell was born in Troy, NY in 1847. At an early age, he moved to New York City with his parents, where he attended the public schools and graduated with honors. He then matriculated at the School of Pharmacy in that city, and was one of its youngest graduates. Powell joined the naval service in the 1860's, in which he served with credit. At the close of the Civil War, he entered Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, and after graduation went to work for the Presbyterian Board of Home Mission for Freeman Schools, in Leesburg, Virginia. Powell remained there until called to take charge of the first school for colored children in Virginia opened under the control of the state. His success in the school was remarkable, as more than half the Negro teachers employed in Northern Virginia were, at one time, pupils of his school. Later on, Powell became the principal of the second all-Negro one-room schoolhouse in Bordentown, New Jersey. While working in Bordentown, he accepted the position of clerk in the fourth auditor's office of the Treasury Department, during the term of President Chester A. Arthur. Disliking this kind of work, he returned to the schoolroom, and became Principal of the Mount Vernon School, an all Negro school, in Camden, in 1883, at a greatly reduced salary. He remained at the school for 14 years. During this period, the board appointed him the district principal in charge of all the colored schools in Camden.

Powell entered political life at the Constitutional Convention in Virginia, during Reconstruction. He was offered several important political positions, which he always declined, even while remaining active in the political life of New Jersey for more than 25 years. This led its distinguished Senator, Gen. William Joyce Sewell, to encourage President McKinley to appoint Powell U.S. Charge d'affaires to Santo Domingo (February 18, 1898 to July 123, 1904) and U.S. Minister (his actual title was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary) to Haiti (June 17, 1897- November 1905). Tiring of Haiti's constant cycle of revolutions, riots, and diseases, on September 13, 1905, while on leave of absence visiting his home in Camden,  he tendered his resignation as minister to Haiti, stating "I have tempted the fates long enough". While in Haiti he was successful in expanding American commerce in that country. He returned to his home at 572 Clinton Street in South Camden, where he had resided as early as 1887, opened a patent medicine store, and was still living in Camden as late as 1914. He had a distinguished career in all of his ventures before passing away on January 23, 1920. 

The Powell School was designed by architects Byron Henry Edwards and Alfred Green. Edwards and Green had previously designed the John W. Mickle School Annex at 1710 Fillmore Street, since 1999 known as the Creative Arts High School. The two architects also collaborated in the design and construction of Camden's City Hall, built in 1931, and still in use as of 2003. The new school was built by the construction firm of George Shaner and Sons. 

The board officially accepted the William F. Powell School on September 14, 1926. The old Linden School, despite the wishes of neighboring residents who sought the use of the building for recreational purposes, was torn down shortly afterwards.

Today the school served approximately 220 students between Kindergarten and the third grade.

Philadelphia Inquirer -1951

10 SCHOOLS REPRESENTED        

The schools represent eight public arid one parochial school in. Cam­den and the Pennsauken Township Junior High School. The Camden county competition is part of the an­nual marbles tournament sponsored by The Inquirer.

Champions were developed yesterday at the Pennsauken School, which registered a total of 41 boys and eight girls in its first years competition. Robert Barrowa, 11, of 5303 Sherwood Terrace, and Vera Polk,12, of 3466 Gladwyn Avenue, both seventh-grade Pennsauken students, captured the titles.

Camden school champions are Albert Colsey, 12, of 2807 Cleveland Avenue; and Iola Brooks, 13, of 2728 Garfield Avenue, of the Harry C. Sharp School, 32nd Street and Hayes Avenue; James Twyman, 13, of 807 Chestnut Street, winner at Whittier School, 8th and Chestnut Streets; Michael Marto, 14, of 215 Sewell Street; of the Cramer Junior High School, 29th and Mickle Streets; Alfred Medley, 13, of 1177 Lawrence Street, of the Powell School, 10th and Linden Streets.

CHAMP'S BROTHER WINS

Also, Nicholas Martell, 13, of 1041 North 31st Street, brother of last year's Camden champion, and Arlene. Fallon, 13, of 811 North 28th Street, both of Veterans' Memorial Junior High School, 26th Street and Hayes Avenue; Ronald Rowan, 51 North Street, champion of the Holy Name Parochial School, 5th and Vine Streets, competing ·for the first time this year; Ann Coles, 13, of 697 Van Hook Street, girl winner at the Mickle School, 6th and Van Hook Streets, and Stephen Trout, 14, of 305 Beideman Avenue, representing the Davis School, 34th and Cramer Streets.

Other Camden school winners announced earlier included Paul Palla, 11, of 1087 North Merrimac Road, of the Yorkship School, and Robert Hudson, 11, of 2123 Van Buren Street, boy winner at the Mickle School. Runners-up who will be alternates at the district playoffs include  Yorkship School, Jerry Hunt, 13, of 3150 Colorado Road; Mickle School, John Jones, 14, of 673 Central Avenue and Brenda Bates, 10, of 569 Ferry Avenue; Sharp School, William Wagner, 12, of 1107 Lois Avenue and Jean Martell, 12, of 1041 North 31st Street; Pennsauken, Adrian Mencer, 14, of 4311 Union Avenue, Delair, and Lorraine Brucks, 13, of 2228 Sherman Avenue, Pennsauken

Also Whittier School, Edward DeGrilla, 14, of 732 Chestnut Street; Davis School, Robert Kerby, 13; Holy Name School, Samuel Montanez. 13, of 621 Cedar Street; Powell School, Sterling Davis, 13, of 323 North 11th Street, and Veterans School. Herbert Betts, 14, of 1155 Bergen Street and Judith Arensberg, 13, of 2730 Garfield Avenue.

Official Powell School Website

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