West Babylon School District
Most of our school district boundaries were established in the mid-1800s. The landscape of our communities changed – from farms and fields to streets and homes – but school district boundaries largely stayed the same, with a few exceptions.
Prior to 1872, the school district was known as Town of Huntington School District No. 20, after the Town of Babylon separated from Huntington in 1872, it became known as Town of Babylon School District No. 2, before the name West Babylon Union Free School District was adopted in the early 1900s.
In the article “West Babylon’s First Schools,” published in the Long Island Forum history magazine (September 1980), Eileen Smith outlined the history of West Babylon’s early schoolhouses and locations. The first known school was reportedly built on the north side of Montauk Highway, about 500 feet east of Great East Neck Road (not far from the Montauk Highway entrance to Stop & Shop); which Ms. Smith found on the 1835 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Map.
This first school is the one at which Walt Whitman was a teacher, 1836-1837. Whitman lived with his parents who lived and worked on a farm that is now part of the Great South Bay Shopping Center, so he did not live too far away from the school. [Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography, by David S. Reynolds (1995), describes some of Whitman’s West Babylon life.]
Around 1871-1872, the second West Babylon school was approved and built on the south side of Montauk Highway. The one-room schoolhouse had seats for 30 students. Reportedly, this schoolhouse was later moved to Muncy Road (south side of Montauk Highway, about a block west) and, moved again, to Elmwood Road and Route 109 (Farmingdale Road).
West Babylon’s second schoolhouse, in its third location, at Elmwood Road and Route 109, pictured circa 1890.
West Babylon students, and their lone teacher, at the one-room schoolhouse Elmwood Road and Route 109, in 1898.
By the turn of the 20th century, the one-room schoolhouse was inadequate for the community’s educational needs. In 1906, a one-story concrete-block school was built just south of the present West Babylon High School, on Great East Neck Road near Arnold Avenue. In 1911, the roof was raised and a second story added, and in 1920 the school was expanded with a rear addition. When the Main School was built, the old school was sold.
Progression of the West Babylon School, 1906-1920s.
To accommodate the growing school population, in 1930, a new brick school, the West Babylon Main School, was opened on the west side of Great East Neck Road and south of Muncy Avenue. The two-story school had a Neo-Classical design with tall columns supporting the front portico. The school educated students up through the 8th-grade (at some point the school went up through the 10th-grade). By the 1950s, the school was known as the West Babylon Junior High, before the Old Farmingdale Road school was built.
Deemed an “outdated” building by the early 1980s, the school property was sold and the building demolished. The old Main School site became the Holiday Square apartment complex.
The 1950s population boom brought many changes to West Babylon, particularly the need for more school facilities. Prior to the establishment of a dedicated high school for the West Babylon School District, students typically attended Babylon High School. The present West Babylon High School occupies the old Haab family farm, on the west side of Great East Neck Road and Route 109.