1954-1955: Two Votes for a Second School

  • It was the day of the big vote. On December 30, 1954, Rush-Henrietta residents were asked whether the district, just eight years old, should accept 15 free acres of land from James P. Wilmot, president of Wilmorite Corp.

    The property was in the developing Suburban Heights area, which was located on the former Frank McEvoy farm. The subdivision was described in the newspaper as being a “50-60 acre site on the east side of the East Henrietta Road at the top of the hill south of Jefferson Road.”

    The district would use the land to build a second school designed especially for elementary students. Wilmot made the offer while expressing his interest in developing this part of Henrietta, which was growing faster than any other part of Rush or Henrietta.

    The land offer was appealing to district leaders, who spent much time looking ahead. Between 1950 and 1954, Henrietta’s population rose about 50 percent. On February 25, 1955, Democrat and Chronicle editors wrote, “School officials have been casting a worried eye at every new home, as their census figures showed by the fall of next year there would not be room for hundreds of children of school age.”

    During the weeks before the vote, opposition grew to the proposal. Many residents believed that the district should create a centralized campus, adding new schools as needed to the property that is now home to Roth Junior High School. They successfully helped to defeat the proposal.

    The Democrat and Chronicle shared the results of the vote the following day: “Residents of Rush-Henrietta Central School District looked a gift horse in the mouth last night and turned down an offer of a free 15-acre elementary school site by a vote of 425 to 298.”

    Afterward, Wilmot publicly contemplated whether to rescind the offer. However, after five public meetings and more community conversation, the district put the proposal up for a second vote February 21, 1955. This time, residents approved the acquisition by a vote of 638 to 385.

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