Eleanor Van Gelder School Marks 100 years

By Douglas E. Hall

Eleanor Van Gelder at her desk

It’s been 100 years since the stately Eleanor Van Gelder School (EVG) on Undercliff Avenue first opened its doors in September 1914 that the children of this borough might get an education.  There have been several additions as the school population grew.  This centennial school year will have an EVG population just shy of 400 students as this historic school year begins Thursday, Sept. 4.

Possibly no other individual played a larger role in the education of thousands of  Edgewater children than elementary school teacher Eleanor Van Gelder, who after years of faithful service was honored by having the borough’s major school named in her honor.

School Superintendent William Conway was a bridge between the school administrations of Eleanor Van Gelder and I. Ted Blumstein. He joined the school system in 1907, rose to principal and then superintendent.

In 1882 Eleanor Van Gelder became Edgewater’s second full time teacher when an addition to the one room school house was completed. She was considered a mathematician by leaders of industry in Edgewater as she was able to calculate the cubic capacity of several large local oil tanks for the operators of that facility.

She came to Edgewater at age if 17 from Brooklyn, seeking to make a career in education.  She was hired at the monthly salary of $30.  Her outstanding abilities were soon recognized and she became principal in 1895. On December 14, 1914 the new brick school building was dedicated. In 1935 Miss Van Gelder wept as the old wooden school house was torn down. She salvaged the old bell that hung in the school and placed it in the building that now bears her name.

The EVG Committee looking over old school photos. From left, in back row: teachers Marianne Kaplan and Myra London and Library Director Linda Corona. From left in front row: new EVG Principal Raul Sandoval, new Superintendent Kerry Postma (holding photos) and teacher Rose Delaney.



She lived near the EVG school in a house at 170 Undercliff Avenue that was destroyed in the Avalon fire on Aug. 30, 2000.

She died June 15, 1947 at the age of 84.  Her obituary in the New York Times stated that most of the present adult population in Edgewater had come under her influence.”

To mark the EVG centennial a committee has been formed headed by teacher Rose Delaney.  The committee has gathered old photographs and ephemera to display in the EVG School.  Also under consideration are several dates for marking this celebration.


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  4. Edgewater Schools show Sharp Rise in Enrollment

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