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Was any of the old Chestnut Street School incorporated in the new Snipes Academy?

Ben Steelman

Yes and no. The historic building at 2150 Chestnut St., Wilmington [Map this], built in 1942, was demolished in February 2009.

Eddie Anderson, director of facility planning for the New Hanover County school system, told StarNews reporter Amanda Greene in September 2010  that the old building suffered too many problems, including asbestos issues, peeling paint, roof leaks over much of the building and safety concerns. In the end, officials argued, it was cheaper for the county to construct a whole new building rather than to fix the old one. (Original article: Time, money left New Hanover schools with few options at Snipes.)

Still, a good deal of the old Snipes school went into the new one. Large numbers of bricks were recycled.  The white ticket booth by the auditorium was saved, and Art Deco lettering from around the old school was reused, Greene reported.

A number of bricks, however, were apparently removed by Snipes alumni who sold them to fellow students at reunion events. At least one other major trophy left the schoolyard as well — the 100-pound cornerstone of the original building vanished from the grounds just before the new school reopened.

Built with Federal Works Project funds, the school originally served the overflow of students as workers crowded into Wilmington during World War II. It opened in 1943 as Chestnut Street School, but was later renamed for Annie Herring Snipes (1895-1977), who was its first principal. (She held the job until 1971.)

During its lifetime, Chestnut/Snipes served as an elementary school and junior high school. It housed freshmen from New Hanover High School while that building was being renovated, and Freeman Elementary students while their school was being finished. The Isaac Bear Early College program was located there before moving to the campus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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Does anyone remember all the words to the Chestnut Street School song?

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4 Responses to “ Was any of the old Chestnut Street School incorporated in the new Snipes Academy?”

  1. On January 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm Tom Grady wrote:

    I attended Chestnut Street School in the early 1970s – for my sixth, seventh and eighth grade years.
    I have found memories of the old gym and playing basketball during lunchtime on the playground basketball court.

  2. On January 29, 2011 at 11:05 am Stanley Outlaw wrote:

    It was Chestnut Street Jr High in the early 60s when I went to Chestnut. The newer building on the 23rd Street side housed 1-6 grades, That school was Snipe’s Elementary and the main and older 2 story structure which housed the gym and auditorium was Chestnut Jr High (grade 7-9). The building that was in the rear which was built about the time of Snipes was for shop, band, chorus and extra classrooms. The main building burnt in the 80s I believe and was completely rebuild except for the outside walls from what we where told at the time. Makes me wonder where the asbestos came from that was used as one of the main reasons for destroying a historic site. Annie Snipe was not the principal at this time, that honor belonged to C.D. Gurganus who would later be the first principal of Hoggard High School. Edgar Jones was the asst. They put about a student handbook with the teenage code of ethics, telephone directory and a photo album for the students. Also if you were a 9th grader you could go to the area between the creek and the cemetery at lunch. If you were over there and not a 9th grader you had a good chance to being thrown in the creek.

  3. On March 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm Bob McKeithan wrote:

    Wallace West served as principal for two years after Annie Snipes and before C. D. Gurganous. Wallace West went on to become principal at NHHS

  4. On June 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm Charles Ray Rackley wrote:

    I began first grade in 1943 at Chestnut Street School with Miss Jackson as my teacher. It was a very difficult time for me, since I was a very shy child. Miss Jackson told my mother that she did not know if I did not know anything, or if I was just shy. Come to find out I was a very shy child who did not know anything. I remember bringing coins to school to help out in the war effort (WWII). In third grade my teacher was Mrs. Brady. Mrs.McClammy was my sixth grade teacher, and she was well liked by everyone. In eighth grade Mr. Chadwick was my teacher. I called him up one night and asked him what the bright star in the sky was, and he said it was Jupiter. Mrs. Humphrey was one of my teachers. She seemed to be partial to the jocks in the school, and I was not a jock. In eighth grade the Royal Theater downtown burned up, and we kids were all upset. That same year, I believe, the “Tennessee Waltz” was popular, and all the girls were crazy over it. Ninth grade was added, and we became a Junior High School. That year I took shop, and also discovered a thing called drafting which I earned a living doing. Those times back in the 1940’s and 1950’s were the best of times.

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