Spackenkill History

Old Spackenkill Schoolhouse

The Spackenkill Union Free School District was chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1865. The uniqueness of remaining independent without centralization with other districts has helped Spackenkill remain a small and closely knit school district. 

The name Spackenkill stems from Spack's Creek. Spackenkill is a Dutch interpretation of the indigenous peoples' words for "speaking waters," a name given to a noisy stream running through Spackenkill Road just across the street from the Croft Corners Fire Company.

The district's first school building was on the site of the present-day firehouse and was built circa 1866. It was a traditional one-room "little red schoolhouse" built of bricks brought from Holland as ballast in sailing vessels.

Beginning in 1912, older pupils were sent outside the district to continue their education. By 1920 the one-room schoolhouse was overcrowded with an enrollment of 55 pupils, and plans were made for a new building. In 1926 classes met in two rooms of the new building. Though originally named Spackenkill School, it was later renamed Martha W. Lawrence School for an esteemed teacher and principal who worked in the district from 1928 to 1958.

In the 1930s, Martha Lawrence added two wings due to enrollment. In the 1940s, expansion by IBM made it imperative for the district to increase its facilities. An addition was built on Martha Lawrence and property was purchased to allow for further expansion. The Croft Road Junior High School (later renamed the Orville A. Todd Junior High School) opened in 1959. In 1993 it become the Orville A. Todd Middle School. Rapid population growth made the purchase of two additional sites advisable. One was the location of the Nassau Elementary School, which opened in 1962. The other site was in the Hagan town development, where in 1966 the Hagan Elementary School was dedicated.  In 1967 the residents passed, by an overwhelming majority, a referendum to purchase land for a high school, a dream of district residents for more than twenty years. Construction began in 1970, and Spackenkill High School graduated its first class in 1974.

In 1979 Martha Lawrence merged with Hagan Elementary and subsequently closed. From the 1980s onward, it was leased by Dutchess Community College, St. Francis Hospital, and Westchester Medical Center.  In 2019, Westchester Medical Center purchased the facility. In the 2022-2023 school year, Spackenkill piloted its first Universal Pre-K Class at the Mid Hudson Regional Early Education Center (located in the Martha Lawrence Building) and the program continues to grow.