Original Jenkins School Building
Original Building

When you enter Jenkins School you will notice a marble memorial tablet on the right wall just before reaching the office area. That tablet tells the history and story of Jenkins School so well. It reads in part: “In memory of Charles Arthur Jenkins, son of Charles Edwin and Emeline Smith Jenkins”. The next time you pass it take a moment and examine it! You will notice that it is broken in many pieces. It has been carefully put back together again. How did that happen you ask? How did it get there?

At the turn of the 20th century, Scituate needed a new school. Charles and Emeline Jenkins offered the town the land and even a portion of the construction cost to build the new school with only one stipulation—that the land was not to be used for any purpose other than a school. The town eagerly agreed and the school was built. The total cost of the school was $20,000. It was a three story building with classrooms on the first and second floor and an assembly hall on the third floor. When the school was completed, a local newspaper wrote “The Jenkins School at Scituate has just been completed to the great satisfaction of the residents of Scituate Harbor.This commodious building was made possible through the generosity of Mrs. Emeline Smith Jenkins, who gave the land and $5000 for this purpose, in memory of her son, Charles Arthur Jenkins. A handsome tablet has been placed in the corridor of the first floor.” The tablet referred to is the one now proudly exhibited in Jenkins III.

Jenkins I served the town well for many years but over time, officials recognized that it was outdated and unsafe. It was torn down and a new school was built on the site in 1954. In order to recognize the generosity of the Jenkins family, it was also called Jenkins School and the marble tablet was placed within the foundation of the new school. Jenkins II had a much larger capacity than its predecessor, 520 students, but the most notable feature was the “grand stairway” that led to the schools upper level. Many students and teachers complained they were tired from the climb before they got to class!

As the town prepared to enter the 21st century, it was obvious a new school was needed and it was decided to tear down Jenkins II and build a new school which became Jenkins III. Unfortunately no one remembered the marble tablet in the foundation. It was discovered during the demolition but only after it had broken into many pieces. Fortunately, every piece was retrieved by Joe Eldridge, custodian at the Gates Intermediate School, and carefully put back together again. Today we have a beautiful new Jenkins School proudly exhibiting a bit of its history in the form of the marble tablet. Check it out as you head into the building!

Dave Ball, former Jenkins III teacher
President, Scituate Historical Society