ON THE FOREFRONT: Trenton’s Junior No. 1, 1916 Virtual Exhibition

September 26, 2020 to May 30, 2021

My inspiration for the exhibit was seeing the haunting but beautiful photography that J. Carlos Vargas and Robert J. Sammons photographed of Trenton’s Junior No. 1 on MLK Boulevard (Princeton Avenue) at Southard Street.  I wanted to go further and tell the history of building the school and thus my research began. Junior Number 1 was one of the first junior high schools to be built in the east and became a model for other districts to see.   I soon discovered that the story was not just one story but many stories:  the junior high school movement in the United States; William A. Poland the architect; Herman C. Mueller the school board president and founder of the Mueller Mosaic Company; William A. Wetzel the high school principal and first principal of the school; Mayor Frederick W. Donnelly; the 1916 Infantile Paralysis; the building of Trenton’s other Junior High Schools and High School; and the Integration of Trenton’s public schools.

Special thanks to researchers:  Patricia Allen, David Bosted, Dominique Ellis and Carol Hill.  Thanks to the following for lending memorabilia: Diane Fracella, Jacqui Geary, Gail Robinson, Susan Scully, Debra White, Albert Williams, II, Richard Willinger and the Laura Poll at the Trenton Free Public Library.

Karl J. Flesch, exhibit curator

TrentonWaves.com podcast with Frank Sasso, Karl Flesch & Christina Sasso

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J. Carlos Vargas

I moved to Trenton in August 1975 and I’ve been able to see many changes within the city in the 45 years living here. I try to capture/highlight the positive and beauty of Trenton through my camera lens. I’ve always been interested in art and history. Living in Trenton, its abundance of magnificent homes, architecture and historic cemeteries, always sparked my imagination to learn more about what I was seeing. I believe my curiosity and love of photography developed from there. I’m mainly an introvert by nature, but a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to learn about the Trenton Photo Club and I joined them on a photo walk of the Roebling Factory prior to its transformation into loft apartments. This amazing group of artists expanded my knowledge of Trenton’s artistic community and encouraged me to continue to “see the ordinary differently.” I make it a point to have my camera with me as often as possible as I make my way around because you never know when a great photo op will happen.

I attended Jr. High School No. 1 from 1983 – 1986. My experiences there showed me a lot about myself. I was first exposed to Pre-Algebra in the 7th grade and I knew at that moment, an artistic path was the way to go for me. I was fortunate to have dedicated teachers and counselors who challenged me. When I was first enrolled in Spanish classes, it was clear to my teacher that perhaps the class would not challenge me enough and so French classes replaced Spanish. Though not as fluent as I’d like to be, the foundation was laid there with Mrs. Courtney in Junior No. 1.  À ce jour, je peux encore parler et comprendre un peu de français.

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Robert J. Sammons

While exploring abandoned buildings I see the ghosts of the men, women and children who came before. I hope that through my photography I can bring back to life their memories.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, my love of urban exploring began as a child at my father’s side. His wanderlust led me through abandoned factories, mansions and even castle ruins in Ireland. My passion for photography started much later in life. Exploring and photography are very much complementary hobbies.

Follow me on Instagram… @robertjackimages

For more information click on the topics below

The Story of Building Junior No. 1

The History of Junior No. 1
Junior No. 1 Scrapbook
The Junior No. 1 Stories – Zoom Presentations
The Junior High School Movement          Herman C. Mueller, School Board President & Owner of Mueller Mosaic Tile Co.
William A. Poland, Architect        
William A. Wetzel, THS Principal & First Principal of Junior No. 1
Frederick W. Donnelly, Mayor          The Almshouse and Municipal Colony
1916 Infantile Paralysis Epidemic          Trenton’s Junior High Schools
         Segregation and Desegregation of Trenton’s Schools          Trenton High School