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• Where the first schoolhouse stood is not known; but it was probably near the meeting-house, at the West End.
The second was built according to the following order of the town, Oct. 5, 1730: “ Voted to build a new schoolhouse, twenty-four feet long, twenty feet wide, and ten feet stud, on town's land, by the meeting-house." It was near Marble Brook, on the north-west corner of the lot, upon the border of the road.
The third schoolhouse stood very near the street, on land now owned by Samuel Train, Esq., about ten feet east of the house he now occupies; and, when that mansion-house was first repaired, the schoolhouse was moved, and now makes part of the rear of said dwelling.
The fourth schoolhouse stood as ordered by the following vote: March 11, 1771, “ voted to build the schoolhouse upon the land behind the meeting-house, on the north-west corner of the land." This spot is three or four rods northwest of the present meeting-house of the first parish. The building-committee were “ Benjamin Hall, Captain Thomas Brooks, and Mr. Willis Hall."
These houses, above noticed, were of wood; but the town, May 5, 1795, voted to build a brick schoolhouse behind the meeting-house. They agreed to give William Woodbridge two hundred and twenty pounds, and the old schoolhouse, to build it. This was the fifth house built by the town. It consisted of one large room, sufficient for sixty or seventy pupils : it was arranged after the newest models, and furnished with green blinds, hung at their tops! The arrangement within was simple. The master's desk was on a raised platform, in one corner. Undivided seats ran lengthwise through the whole extent of the room. The oldest pupils sat with their backs to the windows, and their desks before them. The younger pupils sat below them, with their backs against the desks of their seniors, and their own desks before them. The smallest children sat below these last, leaning their backs against the desks of their seniors, but having no desks before them. The above arrangement occupied one side of the room ; and the other side was exactly like it. Thus the three rows of boys on the north side faced the three rows of girls on the south. The area between the two was about six feet wide, where the classes were marshalled to read and spell.
March 7, 1807: The town voted to enlarge the schoolhouse. After this was done, the girls and boys were taught in separate apartments.
As this house was the last in the series of old-fashioned and inconvenient models, it may be worth while to say a word about them. To speak generally, the schoolhouses had been as cheerful-looking objects as the county-jail, and quite as agreeable residences. Their windows were small; and some sashes had panes just as transparent as pasteboard or a felt-hat, - which substitutes for glass lessened the need of blinds. The outer door had a strong lock upon it, while its two lower panels were in the vocative. The seats and desks being undivided, each pupil was compelled to mount upor the seat, and travel behind his classmates till he came to his place! This operation was a standing trial of patience to those engaged in writing. The heavy tread of a careless boy upon the seat of a writer was not calculated to improve chirography or the temper. The smallest children, who had no desks before them, were packed so close together that the uneasiness and pain which nature shoots through young limbs at rest subjected them to frequent admonition and eartwigging. They who happened to be opposite the great iron stove, which stood in the centre of the room, were almost roasted ; and they literally got their learning by the sweat of their brows. They who sat near this stove through a winter would be proof against any heat to be found in this world. So violent a fire' at the centre caused the wind to rush in through the unpatented ventilators, - the cracks in the windows; and a consequence was, that, while the children nearest the stove were sweltering under more than the equatorial heat of the torrid zone, they who were nearest the windows were shivering under the icy blasts of the frozen latitudes. How philosophers would have traced the isothermal lines in such a room, we know not; since, going from the centre to the circumference, one would travel through all the five zones. There was some compensation in the music which the winds made. Every schoolhouse had the true Borean harps ; or, rather, winter's Panharmonicons, played upon by all the blasts in turn. The desks of the pupils became more and more interesting. Once they were wide and smooth ; but, wheu that time was, few could remember. The adult
population, when they visited the old schoolhouse, could each one find those =
The very name he carved existing still ;
How many penknives were tried on the benches, desks, and doors of the schoolhouse, arithmetic cannot compute ; but one thing is clear, that, whether the school left its mark on the pupil's mind or not, each pupil felt bound to leave his mark on the house.
The town has taken laudable pride, of late years, in building proper schoolhouses. The following table records the facts :
Horatio A. Smith, Galen James, Caldwell & Wyatt. $1040.00.
and Milton James.
Horatio ad Sam
The town proceeded immediately to the building of a new schoolhouse, on the spot where the Park-street house was burned. April 2, 1855, Messrs. Franklin Patch, Judah Loring, and Charles S. Jacobs were chosen a committee to produce a plan, publish proposals, and carry forward the work, — consulting with the school-committee.
The report of this committee was accepted and adopted : the consequence will be, a plain, substantial schoolhouse, two stories high, and furnished with all the modern conveniences.
The question concerning the right of the town to use the meeting-house of the first parish for town-meetings having been settled, the inhabitants began to devise measures for building a town-house ; and the subject came up for consideration, Dec. 6, 1827; but no definite action was had. It engaged attention at subsequent meetings; but nothing final occurred till March 4, 1833, when a committee recommended the building of a town-house, whose dimensions should be “sixty-five feet long, forty wide, and eighteen-feet posts." This report was accepted; and the land on which the building now stands, on the north-east corner of Main and High Streets, was purchased of the heirs of Mr. Samuel Buel for $3,000. The plan of the building was drawn by Mr. Benjamin, of Boston. The length was extended to seventy feet. The cost of land and building was $10,062.25. The engraving will give an exact idea of its present appearance. It was found commodious, and was used for all public gatherings.