A Window to the Past – Historical Society ‘Memorizes’ Junior High / Middle School with 2021 Christmas Ornament

We are happy to announce that the latest edition of the South Portland Historical Society Christmas Ornament is available now. For 2021, in light of the current Consolidated Middle School being built at the West End of South Portland, we have decided to “memorize” the existing Memorial Middle School before it is razed.

The Junior High / Middle School Memorial Ornament is available now. Ornament sales support the South Portland Historical Society. South Portland Historical Society photo

For many years, South Portland has hosted students up to grade eight in our neighborhood schools. It wasn’t until 1950 that construction began on our first college, known as South Portland Junior High School, on Highland Avenue. Built on the former site of the WWII housing complex known as Mountain View Apartments, the college was completed in late 1951 and students first attended the school in January 1952. This first centralized high school housed all seventh- and eighth-graders.

In the fall of 1960, South Portland High School (which was on the corner of Broadway and Ocean Street) and the junior high school buildings were traded.

When the school department decided to build a second junior high school building, new names had to be decided. At South Portland Junior High School on Ocean Street, it was decided to rename the school in honor of Daniel F. Mahoney, who had been principal of our high school from 1940 to 1965. For the new school, the decision was made. was taken to name it Memorial Junior High.

Construction of the new Memorial Junior High School on Wescott Road was underway in 1966, based on plans by architect Wilbur R. Ingalls, Jr. When the school was completed and opened in 1967, the ninth grade classes year from South Portland, who had previously been housed in high school, moved to both high schools, making it home to grades 7 through 9 and relieving congestion in high school.

Memorial Junior High was built in an H-shape, with a gymnasium, cafeteria / auditorium, library, music room, administrative offices and 40 classrooms, laboratories and stores. The building was also designed with the superintendent’s offices attached in a separate wing.

The first principal of Memorial Junior High was Terry Christy. He was selected after teaching social sciences / history at South Portland Junior High since 1961, and he was also a coach and athletic director at the school. He became the director of Memorial from its opening in 1967 until 1976.

He was elected to South Portland City Council where he served from 1976 to 1980, including one year as mayor in 1979. Christy became Superintendent of Windham Schools and then continued as a teacher and coach at Windham High School for many years. Although Christy no longer lives in South Portland, he continues to be an active supporter of the South Portland Historical Society today.

In 1983, South Portland’s ninth grade classes transferred to high school and both colleges became colleges, now teaching grades 6 through 8. In addition to Terry Christy, other longtime principals at Memorial include John Gailey, Alan Hawkins and Rebecca Stern. A highly regarded Deputy Director of Memorial for many years was Mike Eastman, who also served on the South Portland Education Board and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the South Portland Historical Society.

The school department has begun construction of a new consolidated college on the Memorial athletic fields. When completed, all grade 5-8 students in the city are expected to attend the new school and the existing Memorial Middle School will be demolished.

This is the eighth in a series of historical themed ornaments. With the inspiration and efforts of board member Chuck Igo, the South Portland Historical Society began this fundraiser in 2014 with the release of its Bug Light ornament.

Following adornments have included Fishermen’s Point and Portland Head Light (2015), Liberty Shipyards (2016), Red’s Dairy Freeze (2017), Portland Harbor – Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse and Fort Gorges (2018), Cape Elizabeth Depot Station (2019) and Engine 6 / Thornton Heights Volunteer Hose Company (2020).

All eight ornaments are available for sale through the historical company and its retail partners. Each ornament is cast from a durable metal with a beautiful brass finish and comes in a protective fabric bag. It also includes a map with some historical details that lets the gift recipient know that the proceeds from the sale of each ornament go directly to the South Portland Historical Society and its museum. Ornaments are available for $ 20 each at the checkouts of our three partner retailers: Drillen Hardware, 460 Cottage Road; Variety of Broadway, 771 Broadway; and Embers Stove Shop, 581 Main Street. Ornaments are also available directly from the historical society by appointment. We will ship the ornaments in a sturdy ornamental box for an additional $ 6 to cover shipping and handling costs. Please call us at 207-767-7299 to place your order.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is Executive Director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at [email protected]

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