Morgan Street School and IHS Victory Bell

Morgan Street School Bell

IHS Victory Bell

'Till echoing from each hill and valley
Back the answers ring.

By Aileen Carney Sweeney
September 2014


The Morgan Street School

1865 -1927

The three story Morgan Street School was erected in 1865 at a cost of $23,000. It was known as "The Most Imposing School House" in this part of the Mohawk Valley. An addition to the building, designed by architect C. Cronk, was completed in 1900. The addition's features were such that they matched the original building: exterior of brick with blue stone trim and interior finishes of oak and black walnut. There were hard wood floors throughout the building.

Morgan Street School

The ringing of the Morgan Street School bell marked the daily rhythm of village life. The tolling of the bell signaled the start and end of the school day for generations of Ilion students.


Morgan Street School and Bell Trivia

The 1883 graduating class held a class picnic at Miller's Grove, located north of Route 5. The favorite picnic spot was west of the North Frankfort Bridge in the Town of Schuyler. The class had 15 members who received their diplomas. The class merited the rare honor of having two representatives of the New York State Board of Regents present the diplomas as the 1883 graduation ceremony.

Morgan Street School Lab

The 1897 graduating class provided Ilion with three future doctors. They were Dr. Charles Diss, Dr. Arnon Comstock and Dr. Harry Halliwell. The Diss Athletic complex was endowed by Dr. Charles Diss.

Planting of the class tree in the yard of the old Morgan Street School was a tradition with graduating classes for many years.

On school days, recess was held from 10:30 to 10:45 and from 3:00 to 3:15 each day. The "Seniors" and "Academics," could spend their recess time out on the area of Morgan Street between First and Second streets.

For about a year, a group of boys regularly played a continuous game of tag in a vacant lot next to the Opera House on First Street. The last one tagged, when the school bell rang, stayed "it" until the next session.

A fire alarm system consisting of five 6-inch alarms was in installed in 1904. The new system consisted of six buttons placed in different parts of the buildings and the pressing of one button would sound the full alarm. In the past, the signal for fire or fire drill had been the ringing of the school bell by E. A. Powers. "The change was thought necessary as occasion might require the sounding of the alarm when Mr. Powers might not be at the school and others not being familiar with the bell, might cause much delay and confusion, and perhaps with serious results."

On December 29, 1910, a fire broke out in the primary department.

Morgan Street School Studyhall

On New Year's Eve, 1907, a gang of "rowdies", ranging in age from 17 to 20 years old, broke the door of the Morgan Street school and proceeded to ring the school bell at midnight. They rang the bell loud and long to usher in the 1908 New Year.

Bell ringers were not the only hooligans who broke in to the school. On January 19, 1912, it was reported that a box containing high school regents exams was destroyed. Every regents exam paper was stolen. The box was stored in Superintendent Schwartz's office. The door was broken and the lock on the exam box was smashed. A gang of Buffalo crooks was suspected of stealing the exams to sell in cities at prices of $5 to $50 per exam. It was reported that a law student paid as much as $1,000 just for one exam. The stolen exam enabled the law student to earn his diploma. **

** - New York State Regents tests were cancelled in 1989 and 1974 when exams were also stolen during those years.

In 1917, a young lad was brought before Judge Lester on complaint of one of the teachers. The student refused to obey the teacher. He struck her and broke her glasses. Later the boy's mother arranged with the school authorities to settle the matter.

In, 1923, The New York State Education Department rejected the proposal of Ilion to remodel the Morgan Street School or to erect a new building on the site because of its close proximity to the business section.

In 1927, seventh and eighth grade students, at the Morgan Street School, were re-assigned to the high school and the high school building was reorganized to function as a Junior-Senior High School.


Morgan Street School Bell at High School
September 5, 2014

School Razed

The Morgan Street School property was sold to the village of Ilion for $20,000 in 1927. Joseph Sanders, of Frankfort, submitted the lowest bid to raze the Morgan Street School. The village board awarded the contract to him and the razing was completed in six weeks.

Village residents voted on April 2, 1927 to construct the Municipal building at the site of the Morgan Street School. The Light Commission financed the project and paid $50,000 cash. The Commission also paid the bonds for the remaining $75,000. The total cost was $125,000 to build the hall.

Upon the site of the old school now stands the Municipal Building.


Bell Dedicated in Honor of Edward A. Powers

Morgan Street School Caretaker

In June of 1927, a committee consisting of Superintendent of Schools Earl P. Watkins, E.H.F. Luke, Miss Mary Carney and Ruth Gordon, was appointed to arrange for a memorial to the late Edward A. Powers. It was decided the memorial would take the form of a suitable inscription placed on the bell from the old Morgan Street School. The bell was preserved before the building was razed. Mr. Powers rang this bell from 1873 to 1908 while caretaker of the Morgan Street School. He was a friend of every student during these 35 years, and whose memory was cherished by all who knew him.

Edward A. Powers also served as a member and Treasurer of the C. W. Carpenter Steamer and Hose Company No. 2 for 35 years. He was honored for his service at a dinner held in 1912.


Class of 1989 - Class Gift

For many years, the bell was on display in the lobby of the high school. In 1943, the school considered donating the bell to the World War II Scrap Metal campaign. Fortuitously, the idea to donate the bell was scrapped. Sometime after school renovations, the bell was put in storage where it remained until 1989.

Ilion Morgan Street School Victory Bell

The Class of 1989 was instrumental in having the Morgan Street School Bell preserved and placed on a suitable foundation, at the high school, as their graduation gift to the school.


The Victory Bell


Since 1989, Ilion teams proudly carried on a tradition of ringing the bell after winning athletic competitions.

Ilion Morgan Street School Victory Bell
Photo courtesy of Lori Smith
Ilion Morgan Street School Victory Bell
Zach Smith rings the bell after a Bomber football victory
Photo courtesy of Lori Smith


References Cited

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Created and maintained by Aileen Carney Sweeney - Class of 1974

Digital Image Copyright & Copyright © 1997 - 2021
September 9, 2014
modified February 12, 2021

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