May Butts believed in the value of education. Butts was a librarian, and her daughter Cynthia Butts Kelly was ready to read but did not have a school to attend. Cynthia’s birthday was October 16, but the cutoff date for public school enrollment was September 30. When May petitioned the board for an exemption, the board did not budge. So, she started a school in the basement (photo above) of her home in Langhorne Place in Salem.
May needed a teacher for the students, so she recruited Margaret Northcross(later Margaret Ellis) to teach first grade. Butts promised Margaret that she would name the school “Northcross” to honor her commitment. And, it also sounded a lot better than “Butts’ Basement.” The tuition in 1945 was $72 a year for kindergarten students and $90 a year for students in first and second grade.
The basement was soon determined to be inadequate to meet the needs of the students. In 1945, Mrs. Butts bought a home at 12 Union Street that served the students until the merger that created North Cross School in 1961.
The Crossties Blog provides timely updates about activities from the campus of North Cross School.