Hello to all who lived in our old neighborhood and/or attended Hancock School…


Jim Connell ’61, Ann Connell ’63, Gerry Connell ’66, Debbie Dunn ’64, Paul Dunn ’61, (Tacker Lane ?)  ’61, Deege Lappen ’61

Below is the news and U-tube link to the sad sight of Hancock School going up in flames, yesterday, Oct 31…due to, it seems, the use of propane tools by repairmen, on the 3rd floor.  I hope to hear that it can be saved, despite current news reports that is a total loss. 





 When I’d heard years ago, in the 70’s that Hancock was going out of service as a school, I was glad that someone had the foresight to save this fabulous building and turn it into condos.  My heart goes out to all who have lost their homes in this fire.


We have lived in Amherst, NH for the past 36 years, and every time we visited Lexington, I loved driving by Hancock…it was majestic and had fabulous character, and I was privileged to have been able to attend school there from 1951 until 1957… when I “graduated” that June from 6th grade.  In those days, we “walkers” would only have to trot a few doors down to Hancock, head home at noon for lunch, and then back to school at 1pm for the afternoon session. Oh how I took it for granted!


My Mom, now 90, Hancock School 6th grade Class of 1930, just emailed me, referring to it as her Childhood Castle.  Indeed it was…the third floor featured 2 generously sized classrooms for the sixth graders, and a wonderful old creaky auditorium, with a large stage, enclosed by heavy maroon curtains, shiny, dark, wood floors, and mismatched long-bench seating.  It was the site for many assemblies and school holiday pageants. Miss Spooner, the music teacher with the shiny pitchpipe held music class and Glee Club rehearsals there, (for those lucky 5th and 6th graders who were chosen to sing!)  Mrs. Blackhall, the art teacher with her famous pearls, had pupils painting murals for theatrical backdrops up there, and Mrs. Donnelly the posture lady with the golden mustache, closed all the shades to take pictures of our backs while we pared down to our skivvies. If walls could talk!


The second floor contained the principal’s office, for Miss Margaret Keefe, under which was the central, grand entrance to the building.  It had a large hall, compete with coat hooks outside each of the four huge classrooms.  On either end of each floor were the Boys’ and Girls’ “basements”, which today we’d call restrooms.   Third, fourth and fifth grades were housed here. The First floor featured the same layout, hosting first and second grades and sometimes, part of third grade.


In the real basement, was one classroom for second grade, and the lunchroom/gym in which the bus students ate their bagged lunches, as well as the office for kindly Mr. Kidd, the school custodian, during my era.  The lunch tables served as Mrs. Donnelly’s exercise bases for the few, like me, whose posture was deemed worthy of her torturous exercises.


Many of the walls were made of beadboard, half way up, and plaster above, painted a light green.  The spectacular classroom windows were enormously tall and admitted plenty of natural light.  Large black and white etched portraits of presidents and historical figures hung on the walls, suspended by wires.  In my mind’s eye, the walls were probably about 20′ in height.  Marble busts of Washington and Lincoln were placed on pedestals; sacred stuff we never dreamed of touching.   Every classroom had a piano and each teacher could play well, as we sang America the Beautiful every morning.  Recess was always the best; first graders were assigned to the playground facing Forest Street and had the silvery slide, while older kids played on the land facing Clark St and Belfry Hill, enjoying the swings and green teeter-totters, whetting appetites for the mid-morning snacks that would follow, back in the classroom.



Hancock was more than a school, though, for those of us who lived in its Forest Street Neighborhood.  It was our daily after-school and weekend play spot, complete with all that playground equipment begging to be used.   Many rode bikes round and round the building when they paved the inner area, shot marbles, and played “Relevo” (aka ” Kick the Can”)  daily …all with no adult coaching.


Hancock School was firmly planted at the foot of Belfry Hill, our virtual winter playground; complete with 2 sliding hills “Big” and “Little”.  Snow-stormy No School days meant that those who had skis …usually the Fritzes, Pratts, and Rickers would be up early to pack down the hill for the rest of us, for the day of joyous sledding  ahead.  Their early bird reward was to create a ski jump right in the middle; extra thrills for the tobogganers, steering challenges for sledders!


Living in the historical district was special and oh-so convenient…we could all reach the downtown or the local library much faster by cutting through the Hancock School Yard….a yard that was the showcase for Maypole dancing in my mother’s era, science classes in mine,  outdoor gym class, and the annual school picnic every June, (complete with that rare delight, school-provided dark meat tuna sandwiches, and Ne-Hi orange crush soda instead of milk!)


Both my mother and grandmother attended Hancock, as did all my five siblings.  My mother and elder brother even had the same 5th grade teacher!  Due to our age spans, my parents were involved in the Hancock PTA for 23 years from 1949  – 1972. Hancock held a lot of history and many memories for our entire family…I can still recall every room I was in for each grade, and all my teachers by name, some of whom were the best and kindest I ever had! 


Hancock School, 33 Forest St. Lexington, MA……something out of a storybook, the smell of the white paste,  the sound of the teacher collecting coins for the Saving Book Stamps, the taste of graham crackers and milk,  the touch of my teacher’s hand placing a gold star on my forehead, and the sight of that grand red brick and slate castle… all to be held in cherished memories.


Remembering Hancock School…thanks for listening….


(Ann Connell Bergin from 55 Forest St…..)