The oldest schoolhouse in the borough, the one-room Harris Lane School, is believed to be the oldest existing school building in the County of Middlesex. The exact age of the now deteriorating frame structure, which stands at the corner of Shepard Avenue and Route 28, is unknown. However, it is estimated at more than 140 years old (this building has since been razed).
Funds for the erection of Harris Lane School were raised by public subscription. Teachers were paid by the parents of pupils attending. The land on which the school was built was donated to the community by the late Mr. Hendrick Smock, with the stipulation that the land revert back to the Smock family when the building no longer was used as a public school. Present owner of the land and building is Walter Ryan.
The one-room schoolhouse of almost a century and a half ago, when a single teacher taught several classes simultaneously, is a far cry from today's comprehensive system with four elementary schools, a junior high school and a modern high school.
In 1902 the first four-room Pierce School, which has since been demolished, was constructed on the west side of Raritan Avenue to replace the Harris Lane School and a one-room schoolhouse on Drake Avenue in Lincoln. The original Pierce School was condemned as a fire hazard and abandoned in 1920 when the replacement Pierce School was built on Walnut Street at a cost of $118,000.
Pierce School was named in honor of Mr. H.C. Pierce, who continued the work of his father, Dr. R.V. Pierce, in developing East Bound Brook. The younger Pierce donated a tract of land for the school.
The old Pierce School housed classes through the tenth grade for many years. The foundation of the building still can be found in an overgrown meadow along Raritan Avenue.
A contemporary of the original Pierce School was the old Parker Schoolhouse. Both these schools were being used when Middlesex seceded from Piscataway in 1913. The original Parker School, which was converted into a two family dwelling on North Lincoln Avenue, was abandoned when the five room Watchung School was built in 1917 at a cost of $24,000.
Watchung School was destroyed by fire in 1921 and later rebuilt. An $80,000 addition, containing eight rooms and an auditorium was built in 1926.
The present Parker School was built in 1920 at a cost of $50,000. A $35,000 annex was added to Parker in 1926. Another addition, containing eight rooms, was constructed in 1961 at a cost of $196,730.
Central School (now known as Von Mauger Middle School), containing twelve classrooms, cafeteria and office, was constructed in 1953 at a cost of $517,410. An addition was built in 1961 for $659,380. Now, in 1999, additional expansion construction is currently underway. Middlesex High School, was built in 1959 at a cost of $1,975,000.
Also located in the borough is a parochial school, Our Lady of Mount Virgin School, on Drake Avenue. The school and auditorium annex were constructed in 1955. The school was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, South Carolina.
In 1913 a total of 263 children were enrolled in Pierce and Parker schools. The faculty consisted of nine teachers, including a principal for the two schools. The salary of the supervising principal was $1,000 and the teachers pay ranged from $525 to $625.
In 1921, when the school system included only Pierce, Watchung and Parker elementary schools, Middlesex was lauded in a volume of the "History of Middlesex County, New Jersey." The author of this historical book also commended Mr. William Love, supervising principal, for 23 years of dedicated service in the school system, and Miss Nora B. Henderson, veteran teacher who was called a "household name in the community."