Sprague opened in September 2002 and is the newest of Wellesley's elementary schools. The original Sprague School opened in 1924 and served the community through the 70s when it was closed. The new design preserved the original architectural themes. It features 19 state of the art classrooms, a full-size gym, an art room that captures natural light through an arched window, and a well-equipped music room to serve its 400 students. The huge library has a large up-to-date book collection, a story corner, a bank of computers and a presentation system.
Everyone’s Playground was added to Sprague and opened in 2009, designed to provide exciting and challenging play for children of all ages and abilities. The first truly accessible playground in Wellesley provides children, who use wheelchairs or walkers or who have physical limitations, the ability to play right by their classmates’ sides up on the structure.
History of Sprague
The Sprague School has had a complex history of use and now, more than 80 years after it was built,
it has finally returned to its initial intended use, as a neighborhood school. In September 1924 an
elementary school designed by local residents Paul W. Norton and Ralph H.Hannaford was dedicated
to honor Isaac Sprague V “in appreciation of his public spirit and contributions to the welfare of the town.
”Isaac Sprague was a visionary town benefactor and supporter of public education. He was considered the
most influential figure in Wellesley’s civic development, serving on many town committees and as a Selectman.
He was respected for his creative ideas and love for the town. He donated the land which was used for Sprague
School, the Wellesley Hills Branch Library, the Friends Aid Society, a park on Seaver Street and the American
Legion. In addition, he donated the fieldstone which created distinctive landmarks that Wellesley cherishes
today, including Sprague School, the Hills Library, the Weston Road fire station, and the Clock Tower. He even led the committee that created The Townsman, the town newspaper.
Isaac Sprague died in 1934 and was recalled as “simple in taste; powerful in good influence; strong in the fear of God; charitable in the weakness of others; he is gone – yet liveth.” Only 13 years after Sprague School opened, it was closed. Its pupils were sent to Hardy, and in 1940 the school department’s administrative offices were moved in. In 1946 it was reopened again as a school, and the administrators were shipped to the basement of the high school. Twenty-nine years later it was closed again as a school and turned over to the Recreation Department, which used it for nearly 25 years. After a $12 million dollar renovation to house 18 classrooms, Sprague reopened as a school in 2002. The new design has preserved the original architectural themes.
Sprague Architecture and Design
In 1924, when Sprague first opened, the building was intended to be a model for the modern school without being factory-like in appearance. The school was designed by architect Ralph Herman Hannaford. Hannaford employed elements of classical architecture and utilized local materials to create a building which he hoped would complement the site and other distinctive Wellesley structures. Hannaford also noted that he had made provisions for future expansion to the building.
The original building had seven classrooms (K-6) to accommodate 105 students. The kindergarten was furnished with its own coatroom, bathroom, drinking fountain and foot warmers. Each of the other classrooms had a drinking fountain and a coat closet just for the teacher. On the ground level, there was a playroom which opened directly to playing fields behind the school. The playroom contained a serving room, coat room, moving picture booth and stage.
The stone used on the Oak Street façade was obtained directly from the excavation at the building site. Similar stones also quarried locally are found on other town landmarks, including the clock tower in Wellesley Hills Square, the Wellesley Hills Branch Library, and the Weston Road Fire Station.
The cupola atop the right-hand gable was originally used in connection with the ventilation system. The lead work done on the cupola was intended to resemble the lead work being done at the time in England. The weathervane on the cupola, designed by Hannaford himself, was meant to be viewed from a great distance. Isaac Sprague donated the bell and clock for the school. At the time, Sprague was the only school in Wellesley with a clock tower.
At the main entrance on Oak Street hung an interesting wrought iron lantern made by noted craftsman Frank L. Koralewsky. Hannaford painstakingly designed this intriguing lantern as a tribute to the five members of the Building Committee who oversaw the construction of the Sprague School. The lantern bears, on its five facets, symbols for each of the five Building Committee members based on their careers and interests. The five members, their careers, and their "symbols" were as follows:
Mrs. Gilbert N. Jones (nature artist - flower and palette)
Mr. Robert L. Studley (wool merchant - shepherd and sheep)
Mr. Patrick J. Fitzpatrick (pharmacist - mortar and pestle)
Colonel John W. Decrow (soldier - sword)
Isaac Sprague (Banker and generous supporter - bank vault and money bag).