Woodhull School in Huntington is nearing its 50th anniversary. The building was erected on a site that had been purchased more than 15 years earlier and once was considered as the location for the new high school that was ultimately constructed on what were once the grounds of the sprawling H. Bellas Hess estate.
The Huntington School District purchased 23 acres of undeveloped property south of the Village Green School on Park Avenue for about $700 per acre in 1949. The parcel was later enlarged to 24.9 acres.
When officials determined a new high school was needed the site was evaluated and rejected. It was later looked at as the possible location of a third junior high school. District executives concluded it would suffice for that purpose with the addition of six acres to the south. However, before the plan was ever adopted, another site on Greenlawn Road was ultimately acquired and J. Taylor Finley Junior High School was erected upon it.
The Woodhull Road property had long been considered acceptable for an elementary school. The time for construction on the site finally rolled around in 1965/66. The district knew the aging Roosevelt Elementary School on Lowndes Ave in Huntington Station was badly outdated and in need of replacement. Known as Lowndes Avenue School when it opened in 1913, it was renamed in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1927 when a large addition effectively doubling its original size was dedicated.
Roosevelt School fell within the town’s Urban Renewal zone and district officials struck a deal to have the town acquire the building for more than $400,000 and demolish it. The town then acquired about 10 acres surrounding the original three acre site through eminent domain proceedings. A new elementary school largely funded by federal Urban Renewal funds was then erected on the now 13 acre property to the north of where Roosevelt School once stood. The building is today known as Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School.
Nathaniel Woodhull Elementary School opened on Monday, January 30, 1967. Its entire student body had previously been attending Roosevelt Elementary School.
A closing ceremony for Roosevelt was held on Friday, January 27, 1967. The ceremony was attended by various dignitaries, including Mr. Roosevelt’s son, Archibald, who also attended the school’s dedication in 1927 with his mother, Edith.
Woodhull’s first principal, Robert Fitzgerald was Roosevelt’s last. The Woodhull site was nearly contiguous with the Village Green and R.L. Simpson High School (and later junior high school) properties. (The old high school/junior high school is today used at Huntington Town Hall.)
In 1973 the state commissioner of education ordered that Village Green and Woodhull schools be closed and their students dispersed to other schools in the district as part of an integration order.
The Village Green School, which was built in 1952, was closed and sold to the Town of Huntington. The sale of Woodhull for redevelopment as a nursing home was also arranged, but was rejected in a public referendum. It stayed shuttered for several years before being used to house the district’s administration and later as an early childhood center for the entire kindergarten population.
Today, Woodhull has 52,616 square feet of permanent space with additional classrooms available in an adjacent modular structure. The school is led by Principal Traci Roethel and Assistant Principal Jarrett Stein. About 530 students spread between grades 5-6 are enrolled.