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History of Haggerty School

By: Charlie Sullivan

haggerty_drawing.jpgThe tradition of service to others established by Marine Corporal Daniel A. Haggerty, the first U.S. soldier to sacrifice his life during the 1914 invasion of Vera Cruz, Mexico, has become the spirit and foundation of the school named in his honor.

Historically, the area neighboring the Haggerty School, known as Strawberry Hill, was part of the Town of Watertown until ceded to Belmont in 1859, and finally to Cambridge in 1880. During that period, area students attended class in a wood frame schoolhouse on Cushing Street that was constructed by Belmont in 1871.

 Cambridge parents, dissatisfied with the facility, rose in unison to pressure the Cambridge School Committee to provide their children with a modern, more stable structure. Parent pressure prevailed in 1910, setting a precedent for future parental involvement, and ground was broken in 1914 for a new brick school designed by noted architect Edward T.P. Graham. Unofficially known as the “Mount Auburn School,” from its outset it was destined to serve the community’s educational and social needs. The ten academic classrooms, plus woodworking shop, cooking room, and auditorium, were supplemented with twelve public showers for local use.

 Opened to students in 1915, the new school was named in honor of national hero and Cambridge resident Daniel A. Haggerty. The first principal was Harold B. Blazo, a Harvard College graduate who was appointed a teacher in the system in 1910.

history_haggerty.pngThe Haggerty School served Strawberry Hill for the next eighty years with the strong support of the community. The foundation of neighborhood unity was called upon through the eight-decade tenure of the school to counter several bureaucratic attempts to merge with neighboring districts or close the building. In each instance the school, as in the spirit of its namesake Cpl. Haggerty, survived. The courage of the community to seek a new school during an era when many municipalities were shutting schoolhouses again proved fruitful.

The original Haggerty was razed in 1993, and its students assigned for the duration of the construction to attend classes in leased space at Notre Dame School in North Cambridge.

The new Haggerty School, designed by architect Michael Rosenfield, has five levels, containing the latest educational features to meet the needs of the spectrum of children from the city, opened its doors to students on September 7, 1995. An “inclusionary school,” a school that offers tailored programs to students spanning the intellectual and social spectrum, the Haggerty is considered “state of the art” in providing basic educational instruction, the latest in technological teaching, and services to meet the physical, emotional, and academic needs of a diversified population.

In essence, the new Daniel A. Haggerty School, its students, staff, faculty and parents provides the core of its mission and motto, “While Everyone is Different, Everyone Belongs.”

history_snow.jpgThe dedication of the new Haggerty School on October 21, 1995 has brought together people from throughout the city to celebrate a continuation of the traditions and community spirit that have been woven, shared and centered at this site for close to a century. The new school is a credit to the people of Strawberry Hill, the Cambridge School Committee, City Council, Mayor Kenneth Reeves, City Manager Robert Healy, Superintendent of Schools Mary Lou McGrath, Principal Joseph Petner, and the multitude of others who have labored to bring the new Haggerty School to reality.