History of RCC
A compilation of all histories as recorded over the years.
Built in the fall of 1897, this building was the Westford Academy, a private academy from 1897-1928. In 1928, the town purchased the building and the Westford School Department took over to run it as the public high school, but the name “Westford Academy” was retained so graduates would remain eligible to receive scholarships from the Westford Academy Trustees’ sizable trust funds. Architect for the building was H. M. Frances (1836-1908) of Fitchburg, and the contractor for the building was William C. Edwards.
The next Westford Academy building (now the Abbot School) opened its doors in 1955, and the old building at 65 Main Street was used for younger grades. In 1957, it was renamed the William C. Roudenbush School to honor the man who served as principal in the building for 25 years, from 1912-1937. Mr. Roudenbush’s desk is still in the Avis S. Hooper Lounge located on the first floor.
When the current Westford Academy opened on Patten Road in 1973, the School Committee closed the Roudenbush School. That summer, a group of residents approached the Selectmen about turning the building into a community center. Not getting a favorable response, the residents approached the Lowell YWCA and arranged for the YWCA to lease the building as a Westford branch until 1975.
After a year of work, a group of residents devised a plan to turn the Roudenbush into a Community Center, one building in town where human services and activities could be centralized. Since 1975 to present, the building has been the Town’s community center.
While the logistics of financing and operating a community center were being worked out, a three-year lease was signed with the Lowell YWCA. After two years of running Roudenbush as the Westford YWCA branch, the YWCA informed the town that they wished to end the lease a year early. By this time, the Town had obtained a HUD grant to renovate the building as a community center, and acquired funds through the federally funded CETA program to hire a community center director, clerk and maintenance staff. It was the fall of 1975, and the Roudenbush Community Center was a reality.
The Roudenbush Community Center Associates, Inc. (RCCA) 1975-2000 vs. The Roudenbush Community Center Committee (current)
In 1975, it was agreed that it would be useful to have a kind of “Friends of Roudenbush” group who could increase the Town’s awareness of the Community Center and its offerings, and could also raise money for capital expenditures (Town Committees are prohibited from raising money by State law). In October 1976, incorporation papers were filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Roudenbush Community Center Associates, Inc., a non-profit corporation. The bylaws outlined their purpose, and a seven-member board of directors was chosen. And who were the original seven directors? The seven members of the Roudenbush Community Center Committee (RCCC), which soon led to confusion over which body was responsible for what. By 1980, the membership of the Committee and the Associates board of directors were separate except for one “liaison” who served on both until 1991.
At their annual meeting in June 2000, the board of directors voted to disband the Associates due to a lack of volunteers for the board and a sense that with a $1.8 million dollar annual budget, their fundraising efforts were no longer critical to the operation of the Community Center.
“The Agreement” and creation of The Roudenbush Community Center, Inc. (TRCCI)
In the first year of Roudenbush’s operation, a financial dilemma surfaced. The intent of the RCCC was to offset expenses with the fees charged for programs. However, State law prohibits a Town department from spending the money it takes in; the income must go into the Town’s general fund and expenses paid out of the money appropriated by Town meeting. The Dilemma: if Roudenbush charges $15.00 for an art class and the money goes to the Town, how would RCC pay the instructor without asking the Town for money? The RCCC was reluctant to take this step, having assured the Town that the Community Center would ask for as little financial support from the Town as possible.
The Solution: though a Town Committee cannot take in and expend money, a non-profit corporation can. And there, newly incorporated, was the RCCA, Inc. An official agreement was written which allowed all program income to go into an Associates’ account out of which instructors and program expenses could be paid. The first agreement was signed in February of 1978. Originally, any surplus was turned over to the Town. The agreement was amended in 1985 to hold any surplus in reserve for operating and capital expenses in the following fiscal year.
The 1978 agreement was very simple and straightforward because there was no employees’ salaries involved, only instructors. CETA was still paying the salaries for the director, clerk, and maintenance staff. But by 1992, there were over 40 staff members and a budget of close to one million dollars legally in the Associates’ name, over which the RCCC had control. At this point, the RCCA, Inc. asked the RCCC to end the agreement and find another way to handle the Roudenbush program budget.
The Solution: the RCCC came up with the creation of a new non-profit with the members of the Committee also serving as the board of directors, and the TRCCI would take over as repository for Roudenbush program funds finally placing financial and policy responsibility with the same 15 individuals. Beginning in late 1994, the new non-profit The Roudenbush Community Center, Inc (TRCCI) was in the process of being incorporated. It has been agreed that when this happens, members of the RCCA board of directors will no longer serve on the RCCC standing subcommittees (Personnel, Finance and Buildings and Grounds) as they have since the early 1980’s. The Associates would continue to raise money through The Auction and The Westford Directory and would hold those funds.
In April 1995, the incorporation process for TRCCI was finalized. TRCCI will manage the program funds and employ all the Roudenbush staff (with the exception of Town employees), functions that were performed by the RCCA before the reorganization.
The Town employees
CETA continued to pay the salaries for the director and the clerk into 1978, and longer for the custodian. As federal funds expired the Town agreed to fund each position. With the RCCC decision to become financially self sufficient from the Town by fiscal year 1996-97 each year they have offset a larger portion of the Town appropriation with monies from the program account surplus. As of 2003, the Director was the only Town employee at Roudenbush.
All other employees at Roudenbush, Frost, and “Old Nab” were paid through the Roudenbush Community Center Associates, Inc. During 1994/95, fiscal agent was transferred to TRCCI.
As of 2009, The Roudenbush Community Center is no longer a Town Department. The Roudenbush Community Center, Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization.
The Preschool and Daycare Centers
The Roudenbush Children’s Center preschool was originally a single class operated by the Lowell YWCA, which rented space from the RCCC. In the spring of 1978, the RCCC informed the YWCA that Roudenbush would be starting its own preschool that fall. In order to pay the teachers through the program account held by the Associates, the preschool license was put in the Associates’ name and the RCCA board established preschool policy and hired the director.
With preschool wait lists getting longer and no more room to expand community education classes, RCCC asked Town meeting to again give the “old Nab” to Roudenbush, in May of 1994. Roudenbush at Nabnasset (“Old Nab”) opened in September of 1994.
When Frost became vacant at the end of the 1992 school year, town meeting turned the building over to the RCCC. The day care moved to Roudenbush at Frost on August 31, 1992.
Community Education Department
The Community Center director initially did all adult and children’s programming. In 1981, the part time position of Program Assistant was created and filled; the job was divided into Adult Program Director and Children’s Program Director in 1987.
For fiscal year 1997, the Roudenbush program budget was $1.4 million dollars held by TRCCI and the Town’s appropriation had been reduced to less than $20,000. The goal of the Roudenbush Committee was to be a financially self-sufficient town department within three years. As of Fiscal Year 2004, the TRCCI reimburses the Directors salary in full, making Roudenbush totally self-sufficient.
History of the Frost School
Written By Rita Miller, grandniece of Wm C. Edwards, Contractor 65 Main St, Westford
Frost School opened its door to students in the fall of 1908. It was named for William Edwin Frost who became “Preceptor” at Westford Academy in 1872. Mr. Frost was born December 6, 1842 and died November 30, 1904.
The “Frost” residence maintained by the Trustees of the Academy was the home of Academy principals for years. It was moved from its original site and is now the home of Mr. And Mrs. Frank Strauss.
Classroom teachers were:
- Miss Ruth P. Tuttle, who lived on Boston Rd. Miss Tuttle, was my grade 3 & 4 teacher retiring from teaching under my principal ship.
- Miss Elizabeth Cushing, a southern belle, later married Mr. Rueben Taylor and lived on Stony Brook Rd. She wrote children’s poems published in children’s magazines and later in book form.
- Miss Martha Grant, who later became Mrs. Harry Whiting and lived on Forge Village Rd. in what was the old Red Line Depot, converted into a residence.
- Miss Ruth Fisher, a member of a prominent Westford family who moved to Rhode Island and spent summers at her home on Depot St.
Initially the building consisted of 4 classrooms – 2 grades per room – serving grades 1-8. Later students from Parker Village and Nabnasset were transported to the school by bus.
Mr. A. Franklin Trask Principal in 1930-31 was undoubtedly the most outstanding school principal publishing an anthology of children’s verse entitled Poets of Tomorrow written by Frost School students. The book was dedicated to New England’s poet Robert Frost whose letter of acknowledgment appears in the publication. Included are letters from Edgar Guest, Louis Untermeyer, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and Edward Arlington Robinson.
It was my good fortune to have been a student of Mr. Trask’s.
Rita E. Miller
Report of the School Board 1909 Town report
The past year marks the completion of the new center school building. The building was finished in the early summer and was ready for occupancy at the beginning of the school year. It is a spacious, four-room building, arranged for two grades in each room, with a warm, well lighted basement, which serves as an excellent lunch and playroom in cold and stormy weather. It is fitted with the most approved heating and ventilation apparatus, as well as a modern sanitary system, and having been newly furnished throughout is a thoroughly up-to-date building of which the town may well be proud.
The pupils from four of the small outlying districts are now transported in comfortable horse barges to the center school…
It seemed best to the Committee that these three buildings at Forge Village, Graniteville, and the center should have special names and consequently they have been called The Cameron School, The Sargent School, and The William E. Frost School respectively, in memory of three of our late Townsmen.
- Allan Cameron 1822-1900, Treasure of Abbot Company
- C. G. Sargent 1819-1878, President of C. G. Sargent
- Wm. Frost 1842-1907, principal of Westford Academy from 1872-1907
1908-1909 – 108 in Grades 1-8
1991-1992 – 135 in Grades K-5