Back in time: March 17, 1983

The former Gerry School is being turned into luxury condominiums and has been renamed The Elbridge. Photo by Spenser Hasak

History tends to repeat itself.

That’s exactly what I found when I dove into the archives of The Daily Item to figure out what was happening in town decades ago. And, what I did find will sound familiar to Marbleheaders. A March 17, 1983 (a Thursday, fittingly) story in The Item detailed the Board of Selectmen’s seeming unwillingness to lease out two rooms of the Gerry School to a private nursery school in town, with Selectman Arnold Alexander suggesting the building should be “disposed of.”

The board ultimately voted to table the issue after a motion by Selectman John Whipple to grant the lease failed. The week prior, the School Committee voted to keep the school open despite low enrollment levels.

The Gerry School ultimately remained open until 2018, when the School Committee turned over custody of the aging building to the town. Since then, the building has been converted into luxury condos and dubbed “The Elbridge” after Elbridge Gerry, who served as James Madison’s vice president. Gerry is also the name sake of “gerrymandering” (the process by which district bounds are altered to benefit a political party), which originated when a local newspaper compared the shape of a state senate district in Essex County to a salamander.

Now, 40 years later, town officials are trying to determine what to do with shuttered school buildings. The Eveleth School is serving as the temporary home of the Abbot Public Library, but the former Coffin School site sits vacant. That property has yet to be turned over to the town and remains under the purview of the School Committee.

During its March 16 meeting, the Board also voted to release its interest in the Fred Woods Jr. trust, approved a proposal by Mario Angenica and Fortunato Dampolo to operate a non-scheduled limousine service to Logan Airport, and approved the first phase of a proposal to extend and connect McKinley and Gerald Roads.

The Selectmen also commended police Sgt. Peter Clark and Patrolmen Herman Nickerson, Frank McIver, and James Elliott for the capture of a suspect charged with assaulting female joggers, accepted the resignation of George Conant as a member of the Housing Authority, and disused a proposal by Jack Gateman, the owner of Billy’s Restaurant on School Street, for an entertainment license to allow dancing at the restaurant seven days a week.