On this day in 1911, Boston Globe Features John Hays Hammond Automobile class at GHS. In 1951 Arthur Smith sums it up for the Gloucester Daily Times #GloucesterMA

On this day in 1911, the Boston Globe reported on a novel auto mechanic course at Gloucester high that would expand the vocational offerings already established in the district. John Hays Hammond who served on the school committee had the idea and seeded the concept. Forty years later, Arthur Smith reflected on how the new program fared when he wrote about the history of Gloucester High School (published by the Gloucester Daily Times in 1951). Hammond’s tenure on the school committee overlapped with renowned teacher and administrator, Albert W. Bacheler, the Gloucester High School Principal. In 1911, the high school was located on Dale Ave. now Central Grammar. Excerpts follow.

Excerpts from the Boston Globe article

“John Hays Hammond, who is a member of the Gloucester school committee, offered to maintain, for a year at least, a class of high school boys in automobile instruction…

“Under the terms of the contract the boys were to be given 40 lessons a the rate of two lessons a week in the machine shop. But Mr. Perkins and Mr. Hodgkins, becoming enthusiastic over the idea, have lengthened this out to 50 lessons at shop work, and for further good measure Mr. Hodgkins has given, gratis, 40 evening lessons at the high school on the theory of construction and management of gas engines. Thus it is believed that the course has been thorough from the theoretical and practical standpoint. The first lesson at the garage consisted in leading the class to an automobile, directing them to dismantle it and reassemble it, care being taken to tell them to acquaint themselves with the function of every piece of metal which was handled. The test in this was to ascertain at the very first if the boys had the mechanical knack and observation so necessary in matters of this kind…

“The Gloucester high school met this in a measure by introducing some 15 years ago the commercial and high school course, which has equipped many for a livelihood as stenographers and bookkeepers, but this class instituted by Mr. Hammond, if it shall become permanent, will go a step further, and turn out young men who, in their special branch of business, are skilled mechanics and not above overalls and hands and arms soiled with oil…

“…the popularity of the new departure is attested by the fact that one-tenth of the whole number in the pubic schools is enrolled in the high school, which must be enlarged to accommodate those who desire to enter…”

Boston Globe April 30, 1911

“At the same time the reputation of the school as one of the best college preparatory institutions in New England has increased, as the large number of its graduates in the colleges and universities attest.”

Boston Globe April 30 1911

When the HS moved to its current location, the gym was dedicated and also known as the Albert W. Bacheler drill hall. Read more about the history of the school buildings here: Gloucester Public Schools Then and Now

Photo: C. Ryan. At the corner of Wells & Beacon, Gloucester’s “second” school house, 1793 on a sunny day in 2021. Building timeline: Funds appropriated in 1793 for a grammar schoolhouse which was constructed on Granite St. & dedicated in 1795; moved 60 years after to this site; later serving the district for administration purposes; gifted for use by veterans of the Spanish-American War; present day now a private home.

Flash forward to april 30, 1951

The district registered 4196 students in 1892 with just 300+ in the high school. Attendance was an issue. The enrollment number increased under Bacheler’s stewardship.

In 1951, Arthur Smith wrote about the history of the high school at the 100 year mark. The multi part series was published weekly on the front page of the Gloucester Daily Times. Bacheler is featured in several. Smith covered the enrollment and described what had happened with Hammond’s vocational goals for the district:

**from the SFL digitization microfilm reels**


“…30 years in the school saw many changes. He came to a school of 226 students, most of them girls, and five teachers including himself; when he left in 1914, there were 603 students and 19 teachers. When he came, few students from Gloucester had gone on to college; he seems to have waged a campaign for higher education, and probably sent half a dozen to higher institutions for every one who had gone before….

“…Industrial vocational training did not fare so well in the same period. There was agitation for it, and the committee agreed in 1907 that industrial training was becoming part of the high school course in other cities, where there was a direct demand for employees with certain training, but it did not feel that Gloucester was so well situated in regard to trades. The following year, it was suggested that there might be some sewing and cooking for girls, and carpentry and printing for boys, but no action was taken. By 1913, the committee definitely felt there was a need for a high school of practical arts in the city, either a part of the existing school, or better yet, as a separate school, but nothing was done.

“A private benefactor, John Hays Hammond, primed the pump for the city, but to no permanent avail. In 1911 and 1912, through his generosity, cooking classes were made available to senior girls in the afternoon, but it was not seen fit to make the course available to all girls as part of their regular school course. Although 46 of 49 senior girls gave up their free time to enroll, the class was dropped. Similarly, in 1910 and 1911, the same man made possible instruction on the automobile for senior boys. A six months course was provided, part of it held at Perkins and Corliss garage, and part in the high school classrooms and a dozen seniors gave up their afternoons for instruction in this new field. But the course was ahead of its time in Gloucester, and it was not continued at public expense. This was very possibly the earliest course in automobile instruction in this state.”

Arthur N. Smith, Part 7, Gloucester Daily Times, May 29, 1951
Smith, a GHS teacher, wrote this special chronicle about the history of the High School to commemorate its 100th anniversary. Bacheler is featured in 4 installments which you can read on line through the SFL digitized GDT newspaper microfilm rolls. Part 1 was published on 4/30/1951. All of them were published on the front page above the fold.

The 7th installment also mentions that the first Sawyer medals were awarded in 1912:

“In June of 1912, the first Sawyer medals were awarded to the boy and girl in each class who was outstanding in scholarship and effort. These medals were paid for from the interest of a fund established by the will of Samuel E. Sawyer, to whose generosity Gloucester is indebted for many things, including the public library building.”

2 thoughts on “On this day in 1911, Boston Globe Features John Hays Hammond Automobile class at GHS. In 1951 Arthur Smith sums it up for the Gloucester Daily Times #GloucesterMA

  1. Fascinating to look at the GD Times back when I was 5 of course the events of the time went over my head as I had much more interesting things to ponder. Like swimming reading good books looking forward to entering first grade. Thanks for the thorough look at the old GD Times

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing the fun pastimes you were after (mine too!) Sawyer Free Library digitization of those GDT microfilms is a welcome resource! Love the GDT news


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