Who was Lillian G. Dickson?

Anyone traveling along Falconer Street in Jamestown, may have noticed the playground at the corner of Falconer and Sturges Street. This is the Lillian G. Dickson Playground. So why is there a playground there and who was Lillian G. Dickson? In 1892, a five room school house was built on that site. It was first named School No. 10. The other grade schools in Jamestown were also then designated by number which corresponded to the school district in which it was located.

This five room school house faced Falconer Street. In 1905, a four room addition was added. By 1921, more rooms were needed. This time a six room addition plus a combination basement gymnasium-auditorium was added. At some point, the configuration of the school and its additions had the entrance facing Falconer Street.

In 1917, the name was changed to the Falconer Street School. Then on May 3, 1949, the name was changed to the Lillian G. Dickson School. By the 1917 name change, many of the other Jamestown schools had changed from a number designation to a name, usually to the name of the street on which it was located. In 1949, the Falconer Street School Parent-Teachers Association (P.T.A.) petitioned the Board of Education to change the name to honor Lillian G. Dickson. Miss Dickson had been the first principal of School No. 10 when it opened in 1892. She continued there until her retirement in 1933. Forty-one of her over 50 years of teaching had been at that school. By 1949 some of the newer Jamestown schools were being named for past school superintendents and the Falconer Street School P.T.A. thought that Miss Dickson’s service to the children of Jamestown should be honored by naming that school for her. The Board agreed and the name was changed.

It was in June 1956 that the Lillian G. Dickson School was closed and later demolished. The site became a playground. Later, through neighborhood efforts, the playground was refurbished and improved by the Jamestown Parks Department reopening in 1981 giving the neighborhood children a safe and inviting place to play.

By 1956, the Buffalo Street School had been built which allowed the abandonment of the Dickson School. It was in June 1956 that there was a Dickson School Reunion and a booklet called “Program of Memories” was part of the reunion. This booklet contained the program for the reunion, a brief history of the school, and the lists of teachers, P.T.A. presidents, superintendents, and faculty members for the years of the school, 1892-1956. A copy of this booklet was part of a recent donation to the Fenton History Center’s Special Collection.

Lillian G. Dickson was born in Harmony in 1862. Her parents were Alfred and Eveline (Carpenter) Dickson. The family eventually moved to Jamestown and lived on Lakeview Avenue and her father was a minister. Lillian, sometimes known as Grace or Lillie, was one of four daughters. All four daughters in the 1892 New York Census were listed as teachers. According to Lillian’s obituary in 1938, she had taught school in Grant, New York in 1882-83, in Ashville in 1883-1884 and later in Ellicott. She began teaching in Jamestown in School No. 1 in September 1886 and later in school No. 6. When school No. 10 was built and opened in 1892, she became the principal and remained there as principal until her retirement in 1933. She died in 1938 in Florida and is buried in Lake View Cemetery. Although she began teaching in 1882, she graduated from the Normal class at Jamestown in 1884 and from the Jamestown Union School and Collegiate Institute in1886. The Normal class was a teacher training class. Her instructors were Samuel G. Love and R. R. Rogers, both of whom were teachers, principals, and superintendents in the Jamestown Public Schools.

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