Joint District No. 3 Bryant – Silver Spring School
Emil Street just east of the Cannonball Path (old Chicago and Northwestern Railway)
Early records indicate a school was built in the southcentral part of the town of Madison as early as 1858 and was named Joint District No. 3 between the Towns of Fitchburg and Madison. However, its exact location has not been determined as the 1861 plat map does not show a school in this area.
A new school was built in 1871 with records showing Mr. H. P. Molton receiving just over a $1,000 for building the school and Mr. Daniel Williams paying $16 for the old school. Although the 1873 plat map does not show a school in this area, later plat maps show the school in the south part of the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of section 34 (see plat map). This was on the property of Damon Daniel Bryant who became the clerk of the district. Being the clerk of the district and having the school on his property, the Joint District No. 3 was named Bryant School.
Each year at the school board’s annual meeting the number of months of school was set, typically a 4-month term beginning in November followed by a 3 or 4 month term in the spring which went through July. A male teacher was selected during the winter term and a female teacher during the summer term. This arrangement likely was done so the man could handle bringing in firewood to put in the stove during the cold winter.
In 1914, a new two-room school was built just west of the old school. Mr. Bryant who owned the land, had a spring that produced a high-quality water which he bottled and sold under the name Silver Spring Bottling Company. Thus, the school became known as Silver Spring School. Two teachers were hired for the two-room school until July 1920 when the school board meeting decided to revert to a one-room school. By 1927, the school was again made into a two-room school. This school site is now where the beltline is a little east of the bike/pedestrian bridge (old Chicago and Northwestern Railway).
In 1930, electric lights were installed for $185 and in 1935 the school board hired a janitor for $24.95/month. This relieved the teacher from the responsibility of cleaning the school. By 1937, there were 89 students with one teacher teaching grades 5 – 8 plus being the principle. The teacher made $95/month. The other teacher taught grades 1 – 4 and was paid $85/month.
In 1955, the final Silver Spring School was erected at a cost of $95,000. This school had three classrooms and a gym. By 1958, the school contained eleven classrooms, a gymnasium, a conference room, a library, a kitchen, a teacher’s lounge and an office. Fitchburg’s role in the Joint No. 3 school ended in 1961 when the Madison school system took over the school. The school closed in 1970 after having added two temporary classrooms in 1967.