Mid 1600’s

Domini Megalopolis, Clergyman of the Reformed Church was sent to Rensselaerwyck by Killean Van Rensselaer to “conduct a school for children of the manor”.  A room at Fort Crailo was set aside for this purpose.

Education for the general public was many decades away.

1813 - 1854

Earliest available written record of public education in Bath on Hudson (which joined with the villages of Greenbush and East Albany to become the City of Rensselaer in 1897) exists as minutes from school district and trustee meetings.

The History of School 3 by Louis H. Dutcher, Principal of School 3, 1947 includes many excerpts from those meetings.  They reference school budgets, teacher names and salaries, numbers of students, building of schools.


-Before 1813 there had been a private or select school kept in the district supported by parents of pupils who attended.

-In 1813 the system of common schools supported by taxation and public money was started.

-The first attempts to vote levies on the “inhabitants” were passed and then rescinded – and seem to have been superceded by levies “on taxable property”.

-The building first used was the private school house and rent was paid to the owner.

-Early in 1824 it was proposed to build a new building: no further mention occurs until 1839 when a tax of $600 was levied.

Such a building was built about 1839

-That school was kept for various times from 16 weeks to a whole year. The summer season was preferred when the whole year was not feasible.

-This part of the town was known as Bath at least as early as 1843. It was once known as White’s Village.

-Teachers varied from year to year and sometimes within the year.



Stephen Van Rensselaer was approached to provide land for a school in the Village of Bath.  Even though Stephen Van Rensselaer is credited as the founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic he apparently did not believe in education for the common folk.


School District #3 of Greenbush (Greenbush, Bath on Hudson and East Albany combined to become the city of Rensselaer.) Eventually School district #3 of Greenbush became Rensselaer School #1 (Fort Crailo School).  This school district had been educating children before the written records of 1838.


Village of East Albany organized a separate school district #2 of Greenbush. A two story building was constructed in 1849.  Increased registration compelled to trustees to take over a nearby church.  These two buildings were used until the construction of School #2 1894-96.


School #2 receives a charter to become the Rensselaer High School, the first HS in the city.

Prior to 1897 students seeking education beyond 9th grade had to go to Albany.

The Rensselaer High School also educated students from DeFreestville, East Greenbush, Nassau, Schodack and North Chatham.


A new Fort Crailo School is built (the present day City Hall building.) Fort Crailo becomes one of two schools in the city to accept Junior High School students. The other being School #3.


Van Rensselaer Junior High School was built, (the present day Doane Stuart school) providing education for children grades K-8. At this time Jr. High school students are divided between Van Rensselaer Jr. High and Fort Crailo.  School #3 becomes elementary only.




Expansion of the Van Rensselaer Jr HS building allows for the inclusion of High School classes and Rensselaer High School is officially renamed Van Rensselaer High School.

Coincidentally, East Greenbush opens Columbia High School (The present day Genet School (corner of Rt 4 and Rts 9&20).  With the opening of Columbia in 1940 the student population of Rensselaer High School is reduced, since students from Defreestville, East Greenbush, Schodack, Nassau and North Chatham are no longer travelling to Rensselaer.

With the expansion of Van Rensselaer and the movement of the High School School #2 becomes and elementary school.

Mid 1940’s

School #3 is no longer used and is destroyed by fire in 1979.



Mid 1960’s

Fire destroys the school #2 building.


Completion of a new school building located near the river was opened as the Rensselaer Junior Senior High School.  Van Rensselaer became an Elementary School.


The current School located at 25 Van Rensselaer Drive was opened, consolidating  grades K-12 at one facility.


 Alumni History presented at the 2022 Hall of Fame Award 

Note: This a rather large (17 MB) Power Point Slide show which will take a few minutes to download. Relax and wait -i t's worth it.