Medfield today divides its educational facilities into five school buildings; by order or their age: Hannah Adams Pfaff Elementary School (aka ), , , and the .
In 1940, Medfield had two school buildings; the Ralph Wheelock School located at 25 Pleasant St. and Medfield High School, now the Pfaff Center, on the corner of Dale and North Streets.
In 1940, in the worst school fire ever to hit Medfield, the Ralph Wheelock School burned to the ground. The town had to move quickly and soon transferred all grades to the Hannah Adams Pfaff High School building on the corner of North and Dales Streets. Students attended in double sessions with the high school students attending in the morning and the elementary students in the afternoon. Literally as the high school students exited out the back door, the elementary students were entering in the front door.
The town needed a new school building and began construction of a new high school, now the Dale Street School. The school was built on the corner of Dale and Adams Streets on land given to the town by the Pfaff Family in memory of their mother, Hannah Adams Pfaff. The 1914 deed stipulated that “if a school, or any town institution be erected on the property, that building, shall be known as the Hannah Adams Pfaff School.” During construction of the new high school, Pearl Harbor took place, America was in WWII and building supplies, especially steel, became in short supply; delaying the building of the school.
With a shortage of oil due to the war, the heating system had to be converted from oil to soft coal, also causing a delay. After two years of double sessions, the new Hannah Adams Pfaff High School opened its doors to the Medfield students in September of 1942.
The new school also, for the first time in Medfield history, had an auditorium/gym. This was especially useful for the sports program, as basketball games before this time were being played in the upper hall at Town Hall and at Medfield State Hospital. With the opening of the new high school, the former high school became the Hannah Adams Pfaff Elementary School.
In 1951, due to overcrowding at the elementary level, a new elementary school was built on adjacent land the town purchased on Adams Street. This was named the Memorial School, in memory of those who fought and died in World War II.
A large bronze plaque listing all from Medfield who fought in the war currently hangs outside the front door to the school. The Memorial School was enlarged just five years later and in 1956, thirteen classrooms and a gym/auditorium were added. The school now held grades 1-6 with 476 students and 18 teachers.
With the continued building of new housing developments, Medfield’s school age population exploded in the 1950’s. A new Junior-Senior High School, named for WWI veteran and town public servant Amos Clark Kingsbury, was built on donated land along Pound Street. It opened in the fall of 1961.
With the opening of the new grade 7-12 school, the town converted the former high school into an elementary school and closed the Pfaff Elementary School on North and Dale Streets. In 1963 a new addition to the now Dale Street School was built. The North Street building remained unoccupied until it was turned over to the Park and Recreation Commission and renovated into a Youth Center in 1967. At first used for high school dances and as a high school youth center, it has since been used for various purposes and is now the Hannah Adams Pfaff Community Center.
A separate Junior High School, also built on the donated land on Pound Street, a short distance from the high school, was opened in February of 1966. The newest school in Medfield is the Ralph Wheelock School on Elm Street which opened in December of 1969. Due to a delay in the planned September opening, the 1969-1970 academic year commenced with double sessions at the elementary level. For three months children were attending classes in double sessions at the Memorial School in grades 1-3 and at the Dale Street School in grades 4-6.
On December 8, 1969 the double sessions ended when the new two-story, 28-classroom Ralph Wheelock School, named after Medfield’s founder and first school teacher, opened its doors. In 1991 the Medfield Middle School was renamed the Thomas A. Blake Middle School, honoring the former Superintendent of Schools who served the Medfield community from 1956-1971.
During 1994-1995 major construction and renovation took place at the high school. General classrooms were renovated along with a new roof and windows. The main feature of the construction was the building of a new science wing which was occupied in March of 1995.
School enrollment continued to climb as Medfield entered the 21st Century resulting in additional classrooms needed at the Memorial School, the Blake Middle School and at Medfield High School. Renovations and a new addition to the Memorial School were completed in 2004 and during 2006 all major renovations and additions were completed to the Middle School and the High School buildings. It was during this construction that the decision was made to switch the two buildings.
The high school moved from 24 Pound St. over to the former middle school and the middle school moved from their former 88R South Street address to the Pound Street building. The names of the buildings moved with them. The attached photos show Medfield’s five current school buildings during different stages of their history.