Reverend William Bentley
In 1827 a grammar school was founded across the street from the East Church offering for the first time public education for females. The East School for girls changed its name to Bentley in 1845 in honor of Rev. William Bentley.
A new name was not enough. In 1861 funds were raised to update the site at 50 Essex Street. The cost of the construction totaled $18,500. A great feature the new school offered was separate classrooms for each each teacher. The building housed eight rooms with four on each floor. The separate rooms were an asset which gave the teachers "sole oversight and instruction with their pupils."
During the 20th century the top two floors were removed from the old Bentley School. The remaining first floor was converted to the Gardner Maynard Jones Memorial Library which was used as a branch of the Salem Public Library. Currently the building is host to condominiums. The modern location for the Bentley School is on Memorial Drive in Salem. It was erected in 1962 and underwent renovations in 1992.
The school is named for Rev. William Bentley, a minister who lived in Salem from 1783 until his death in 1819. He was a vocal proponent of public education and a member of the School Committee.
A drawing by D. Arthur depicting the original rooster weather vane which stood on top of the East Church and then the old Bentley School. Today the rooster is our school mascot.
A John Bufford lithograph of the East Church drawn by Daniel M. Shephard of Salem,c.1840
Built in 1718 this structure stood on the corner between Bentley and Hardy Street from 1718-1819. (notice the faint image of the rooster weather vane on top of the steeple. )
A photo of the old schoolhouse which was host to an original Paul Revere and Son's bell and a rooster weather vane. Both currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem.