The original Mary Street School was a two storey red and white brick building, constructed on Mary Street, near Colborne Street.
Mary Street School and it sister school, Albert Street School, were built to help alleviate overcrowding at the Centre Street School. They were constructed in 1877 using the same plans, drawn up by architect, Mr. Mowat. Plans for the schools indicate that the two storey building consisted of four rooms each – 26 square feet in size, with an entryway measuring 16 feet by 26 feet. The schools were both completed for just under $5000, each. Mary Street was reportedly finished a few weeks before Albert was completed.
Before being known as Mary Street School, it was called “Colburne Street School” and “North School” (not to be confused with another North School which was on Simcoe St before Oshawa became a village). It also should not be confused with the current Mary Street Community School which was opened after this school closed.
When the position of principal was empty after the summer of 1881, the name Miss M. Panton was suggested multiple times but was subsequently rejected as she was a woman. Many people in the community rose to her aid, as she was the most fitted for the role. These actions resulting in opening the door for female principals. Mary Street wouldn’t see its first female principal until the appointment of Annie Andrews in 1883. Following this, three schools in Oshawa, Mary St School, Central School and Albert Street School, had no male teachers as teachers or principals for a quarter century.
Seven years after the school had been built, updates to the roof was installed to prevent leaking, and two new stoves were purchased the next year. Additional repairs and improvements took place through the year including fence repairs, wall painting and papering, cement walkway installation, and the addition of a telephone.
During repairs and constructing an extension in November 1919, the old portion of Mary Street School was engulfed in flames. Miss Keddie, the head teacher, was staying after hours and alerted the fire department of the sparks from the chimney. No one was injured. The new extensions were complete by April 1920 and was used in September that same year.
The school closed its doors for good on June 30, 1970. In January 1988, a fire broke out in the abandoned building just a couple months shy from its demolition in March of 1988.
With information from:
J Douglas Ross, Education in Oshawa: From Settlement to City (1970).
Olive French, Education in Oshawa (unpublished manuscript), (1967), accessed via: https://olivefrench.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/the-ward-schools-albert-street-and-mary-street-1877/