Northeast corner of North 5th Street & York Street

With Camden's population exploding in the 1880s, many schools were built throughout the city. In 1887 the school board approved architect Steven Decatur Button's plans for a universal eight-room school, thus allowing the city to build many eight-room schools using the same schematics each time. 

The board approved the name John S. Read Schoolhouse for the Fifth and York Streets' school, as per the "request of the majority of members from the First School District, and appointed Helen M. Bleakly as the first Principal of the girls' department, and Clara Mulliner the first Principal of its boys' department. The Read School opened on March 5, 1888.

John S. Read (1822-1882) was born in the Southwark section of Philadelphia. He moved to Camden with his family when he was quite young. After an apprenticeship as a paperhanger, he opened a business with his brother Edmund. Read made his fortune, beginning in 1850, by being the first person to sell consignments of wallpaper in San Francisco. He used his money to purchase a considerable amount of Camden real estate, and Camden's first paved street and first culvert were a result of his persistence. Read was a member of the City Council and the Camden Board of Education, replacing William Fewsmith when he stepped down as board member and superintendent in 1864. His estate was valued at one-half million dollars (worth nearly 9 million dollars in 2002 money.) Two of his pallbearers were H. B. Wilson and Sen. William J. Sewell; both would have a Camden school named after them.

The Read School was still in use as late as the fall of 1981. The school has since been razed and the lot has been vacant for years. .

November 22, 1909
First Grade student Dorothy Austermuhl - Emma L. Holl, Principal

Teacher Assignments & Transfers - June 22, 1933

Camden Courier-Post - February 15, 1935


First officers of the Read School P.T.A., elected when the unit was organized five years ago, were honored last night when the association observed Founder's Day at the school, Fifth and York streets.

Speakers were Mrs. Marion Gilpin, Merchantville; Mrs. Howard Weedon, East Camden; Miss Olga Pyle, principal, and Miss Martha Lummis, former principal.

The former officers honored are Mrs. L. Hudson, first president; Miss Pyle, vice president; Mrs. Elizabeth Strohr, secretary, and Mrs. Ira Keiter, treasurer.

Camden Courier-Post - February 14, 1938

Camden's "Jersey City" Schools 

To the Editor:
        Sir—In your publication there appeared a number of pictures of terrible slum conditions in Jersey City.

Among the pictures was a Jersey City school with (horrors) outside plumbing. I hold no briefs either personally or politically for Mayor Hague, but why don't you try to be fair. It is a terrible thing in these days of modern conveniences that children in school are compelled to use outside toilets. God alone knows how many poor little children have contracted colds (or worse) in going from a warm school room out into the cold. 

But it isn't necessary to go all the way to Jersey City to rid such conditions. The Read School at Fifth and York streets in Camden has outside plumbing, and I for one think that it's criminal for children to be compelled to use toilets, that can and are being used by any vagrant or other person who feels so inclined. 

In closing please allow me to say if you want to sponsor or advocate inside toilets for school children forget about Jersey City and distant points. Start in Camden. I didn't see in any of those photographs any slum conditions that couldn't be duplicated here. People who live in glass houses, etc.

615 York Street

Camden Courier-Post
April 1965

Mrs. Stella Cimino
J.S. Read School
Pyne Poynt Better Neighborhood Council


Camden Fire Department
Fire Prevention Program

Thanks to Fred Reiss, Ed.D. , for writing the defining book on public education in Camden prior to 1948, PUBLIC EDUCATION IN CAMDEN, N.J.- From Inception to Integration, from which much of the above history of the Kaighn School is derived.