History of Hoboken

By Barbara F. Dyer | Apr 05, 2018

The Harkness family settled in the now Rockport area. In 1848 Ephraim Harkness sold land to Goose River (as it was called before Rockport), so they could build a school house. It served the community well for more than 100 years. It was about 1950 when Rockport Elementary was built. I heard a story of how Hoboken Schoolhouse got its name. It seems the town was definitely divided by the Goose River, that flowed through the middle of the village. The children on the east side were going to the school on Diamond Hill located on a street beyond the present Rockport Post Office. It is now an apartment building and was distinguished by a tower with a clock in it. The children on the west side went to the new school. Children on the east side told the kids on the west side to go back to Hoboken, that was on the (New) “Jersey”side. That is the story I have heard. It remained a schoolhouse for many years, with various teachers.

My curious mind wanted to know more about the Hoboken Schoolhouse, so I called Helen Chater, who went there from kindergarten through third grade around 1931, 1932 and 1933. The downstairs held all the grades in one room and there was an empty second floor at that time, but it was not used as part of the school. In its early years it was partitioned for about four school rooms. Hortense Bohndell taught for quite a while, and she was an aunt to Henry Bohndell, who was the noted sailmaker for many years in Rockport.

I talked with Margaret Miller of Warren, who also went to the Hoboken Schoolhouse. At one time Hoboken even had a belfry with a bell on the top of the building. Miss Bohndell was an excellent teacher and full of spirit. The children did as they were told, or else they had to go stay in the entry way until they behaved. Miss Bohndell saw that they had a Christmas Party up on the empty second floor. She saw that they has calisthenics, by marching in place or doing “jumping jacks.” She had an aide, named Isabelle Skinner, from New York, who played the piano, and the students put on musicals. Also the small school had a band, with red capes for uniforms. The school children published a small paper, at least once a year. Those things were quite unusual for a one-room school to accomplish. The children were furnished a fresh apple and a small carton of milk each day. In Camden they were also furnished a small carton of milk (so we wouldn't get the rickets), but also a teaspoon of cod liver oil, that was awful tasting. It was during the Great Depression, and I suppose it was to make sure all children did get something that they might not have gotten at home. Other teachers known to have taught there were Veda Brown and Mr. Achorn. Much later the second floor burned and was rebuilt when it was owned by Maynard Ingraham of Rockport.

The larger school house on Diamond Hill became the high school, until Camden and Rockport joined with Camden High School after the C.H.S. Class of 1965 graduated. It then became CRHS.

It comes to mind that Hoboken School became Bob's Greenhouses about 1950. But somewhere in between these years, there was a sewing factory called “Schoolhouse Togs.” Some of the workers came from Camden, Rockport and Rockland. One told me that she had been working at Van Balen's in Rockland for twelve years before going to The Schoolhouse Togs to work. Many of them are no longer living, and Rockport Town Office does not have a record of how long the company was there or dates of its existence.

I believe the elementary school (now demolished) was built somewhere around 1950, on the corner of Route 1 and Route 90 on West Street.

The Farley family, who bought the greenhouses around 1988 from Bob's Greenhouses, had a thriving business. They had many greenhouses, where one could buy any plants or vegetables needed for their gardens. They did beautiful arrangements for Mother's Day, Christmas, birthdays or any celebration or remembrances. The Farley’s, a few months ago, sold the property and moved their business, “Flowers by Hoboken” to 15 Tillson Ave. in Rockland.

Hoboken Gardens was purchased with other property by Stuart and Marianne Smith for bigger and better ideas for the town of Rockport. The Smith's son, Tyler, is also involved with all the Smith developments in Camden and Rockport. Another buyer, who joined them, is Martha White. She is a writer and educator, and wife of Taylor Allen, who owns Rockport Marine, a boatyard that was started by his father, Luke Allen, a half century ago.

The new owners of the property, according to PenBay.Pilot.com, say that “next may be an agricultural enterprise and home to a farmer's market. Also perhaps a small housing development with walking trails and gardens, as well as a childcare center for infants and toddlers.” That, with other property the new owners have bought, is still in the planning stages.

Hoboken Schoolhouse is truly a landmark in Rockport.


Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is the official town historian.


Comments (2)
Posted by: wende newton walsh | Apr 06, 2018 08:51

When my parents married in '48, they took up residence in mom's great grandparents' house across the street on the corner of Beech Hill.  Hortense was a cousin and got Dad (Phin Newton) to dress up as Santa for that Christmas party.  I'm wondering if the "isabelle" Skinner is my great, great aunt Adelaide...A. Belle Skinner, who married a NY publisher and lived in New Rochelle?  She was very into music...and it strikes me as the kind of thing she would have done.  She returned home to Rockport after her husband passed.   Thanks for the post, Barbara.  Oh, A. Belle was also a member of the CR Historical Society, BITD.


Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 05, 2018 16:48

Interesting history! Thanks Barbara. As usual, history I did not know.

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever

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