Sunday, January 7, 2018

Junior High School #1/ Martin Luther King Jr. School


Occasionally while writing posts for this blog, I hit roadblocks when doing research. Trenton's Junior High School #1 is no exception. The historic structure is one of two schools that shared property between MLK Jr. Boulevard and Brunswick Avenue. The other was the original Jefferson Elementary School.

The exterior design of the school is beautiful, and hasn't been corrupted much over the years. The imposing facade along MLK Boulevard is a great example of collegiate gothic architecture. The limestone trim and ornamentation has fared well, especially in contrast to the weathered brick that encapsulates it.

Stepping inside was a bit of a disappointment, as the building was clearly a hotspot for taggers and other vandals. As we worked our way through the building, there were still plenty of historic elements throughout the structure to keep our interest.

The main draw for me when I visit abandoned schools is the auditorium. Though many have been modernized over the years, that never happened here. What remained was almost a time capsule, if the damage done by those who visited before me can be overlooked.

 The school continued to impress me as we wandered around. The building had a pool installed in the late 1960s, which would be the last major improvement the building got.

The school also had a full sized gymnasium, with fat lancet windows. I haven't seen that in any of the other abandoned schools I've visited, which at the time this post was written includes roughly 40 different facilities in 8 different states.

At some point, the school was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. High School. The Trenton School District shuttered both schools in 2007, leaving the large portion of property completely disused. It wouldn't be for long though, as plans for a new school were approved for the land. The Jefferson school was demolished in 2008, starting with the auditorium.

After the demolition of the Jefferson school was completed, the machines turned on the Junior High School building. Working from the rear once again, they leveled a large section of building that stood behind the original structure. Normally that would be where the auditorium sits. Thankfully and strangely, the auditorium of this school was in a wing off the left side of the main entrance. For some reason demolition was never completed, and the historic main section of the building was left to rot.

The new school currently occupies the southeast portion of the lot, in the shadow of the grand old building which takes up the entire north side of the property. While I remain hopeful something will become of the school, Trenton has a piss poor reputation when it comes to saving their historic school buildings.  I'll continue to check up the site until I have something new to write.


  1. I went to Jefferson from Kindergarten to 6th grade 1945 through 1951.
    Principal. Miss Mccan, K-Miss Perkins, 1st-Backus, 2nd-McDonald, 3rd- Ivens, 4th-Lewellan, 5th-Logan and 6th-Stone.I was a patrol boy and enjoyed free juice. Great school, teachers and experience. John Suntato (78 years young).

  2. I'm wondering how the blogger got into the building? Just walked in? I've driven by the school over the years (I went there in the early 60s and then moved out of state), and would love to see the inside, but I'm really reluctant to just see if a door is unlocked and go in. Would love to know how he did it.

  3. I went to Junior 1 1989 I wonder how it looks in the inside