History of John Ward Elementary School
by Mark Kalish, 1957/58
Construction of the John Ward School began in August, 1927. The building was ready for occupancy in September, 1928. It was built on a four and one-half acre lot, a portion of land owned for about two hundred years by seven generations of the Ward Family.
The original building had eleven classrooms, one kindergarten, two play rooms, an auditorium, an office, and a book and storage place. The architect planned the school to fit into the residential style of the neighborhood. $254,454 was appropriated for the construction of the building, and the final cost was $254,028, leaving a balance of $425.64! Over the years several additions and alterations have been made to the original building to accommodate educational needs and the growing population of the area.
The school was named for John Ward (1626-1708), one of the first settlers of Newton. As a young man of twenty-seven he married Hannah, a daughter of Edward Jackson, owner of the Jackson Homestead. Mr. Jackson gave John and Hannah the forty-five acres of land surrounding their home. This land lay between Waban Hill and the curve of Hammond Street. The homestead was later fortified into a garrison house and was used as such during King Philip's War. The original garrison was taken down in 1821, having stood about one hundred seventy years and having sheltered seven generations.
John Ward was a "turner", or farmer. He and Hannah had eight sons and five daughters. As his family prospered, he acquired more land and eventually owned about five hundred acres which he distributed among his sons in 1701.
John Ward was New Town's first representative to the General Court. He was also one of the first members of the church and a member of the committee that planned the new meeting house. His activities and interests were certainly civic minded and varied.
The last member of the Ward Family to own the property that is now the site of the Ward School was Deacon John Ward (1825-1911) who willed the land to the City of Newton. His portrait hangs in the school library.
During the academic year of 1957/58, a sixth grade student from Mr. Sammarco's class named Mark Kalish wrote a paper for Ward School's 30th anniversary. It was about the school's history, quite possibly inspired by John Ward's portrait hanging in the library. Mark was encouraged by principal Mildred March, who suggested he do some research about it for the upcoming anniversary. Mark remembers that Miss March was quite astonished about the amount he was able to find at Newton City Hall. The work was published in a mimeographed school newspaper. Mark is now living in Copenhagen, Denmark.