11.Jun.2017 Albert Leonard Road

Albert Leonard Road is named after Albert Leonard.   It would be wild indeed — but not inconceivable — if this were not to be the case.  For example, it could have been named after two people — one named Albert and one named Leonard.  Let’s say that Leonard brand water valves include a special type of valve called an “Albert,” after an inventor named Albert (this is entirely hypothetical, although Leonard brand water valves exist). All of these are possible.  But in this world, Albert Leonard Road refers to a person, namely the Superintendent of New Rochelle Public Schools between 1907 and 1931.

Albert Leonard, around 1900

Albert Leonard was born in Logan, Ohio in 1857 and attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he studied education and received a masters in pedagogy.   Following graduation, he served as a high school principal in Dunkirk, NY (1888-1893) and Binghamton, NY (1893-1897).  Following apparent great success at both schools, Leonard joined the faculty at Syracuse University as a professor of pedagogy, becoming the Dean of the School of Library Arts and ultimately the editor of the Journal of Pedagogy.  From there, he briefly became the president of the “Normal Schools of Michigan” (Eastern Michigan University, and ostensibly a number of other schools at the same time) before the massive reorganization of Michigan’s higher education system eliminated his position.  After Michigan, Leonard moved east once again, taking a position in Houghton Mifflin in Boston (1902-07).

His last stop was New Rochelle, where he became the Superintendent of Schools in 1907, making his residence at  29 Orchard Place in Rochelle Park.  To say that he was highly regarded would be an understatement.  On recommendation for the job, it was said that he was “worth securing at any price.”  History of the New Rochelle Public Schools : 1795-1952 at 174.  In 1927, it was said that he was “known popularly as as the most literary superintendent in the country and is one of the best read.”  Id. quoting Standard Star (June 22, 1927).  Leonard’s major accomplishments included keeping up with the rapidly growing population of the city by increasing the capacity of the physical plant and insisting on a “high standard of qualifications” for its teachers.  Id. at 175.

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As for the street itself, it connects Pinebrook Blvd on the east with the Albert Leonard Junior High School property on the other side of Sussex Road.  The road appears to have been built in the early 1960s, around the same time as the middle school.  It appears to have been built on land once owned by the Village of Larchmont, which was associated with the nearby Sheldrake Lake Reservoir.   The reservoir, supplied by the Sheldrake River,  had been expanded several times during the late 1800s and supplied water to residents of Larchmont, starting in 1889.

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