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Student Exhibit: Bloomfield Academy

written by Morgan Hisler

image of Bloomfield Academy Building

The Bloomfield Academy Building was Skowhegan's first highschool and was built in 1842.

The Canaan Academy was established in 1809. In 1819 the name was changed to Bloomfield Academy. Skowhegan was first called Old Canaan and later Bloomfield and finally, Skowhegan.

image of Skowhegan's Second High School Building

This was Skowhegan's second High School building and was built on Skowhegan island. The first class was held there in 1869. This building was torn down for a parking lot used by factory workers and people attending church at the Federated Church on the Skowhegan Island.

In 1842 the new Bloomfield Academy started to be built. Beginning on Sept. 8, 1834, the town-meetings for Bloomfield were held in the Town House. This continued throughout the whole year. This new brick building replaced the very first Bloomfield Academy, a small wooden building that had been built in 1814.

The settlers of New England were very religious people. After they had made their homes they needed a place to worship and to learn, a school. At this time Maine was still as part of Massachusetts. When Bloomfield Academy was established, they didn't have their own government yet.

image of Showhegan's third High School Building

Skowhegan's third high school building was built on the hilltop overlooking the Kennebec River. The first classes were held there in 1919. This school became the Skowhegan Jr. High and was recently vacated because of the building of a new middle school . Currrently it is empty.

They established this building because there were no high schools anywhere around. The building was built in 1814 and there were 13 students enrolled.

Rev. James Hall was the first teacher who instructed them. He was a native of Scotland and a graduate of Edinburgh University. There was also another teacher that taught in this school. His name was John Gamble. He taught from 1851 to 1853 and had a salary of $150.

image of rooftops over Skowhegan Island c. 1875

Rooftops over Skowhegan Island about 1875. The second high school building is visible in the left center.

During the 1840's through the 1850's school was at full capacity. In 1852 there were 206 students enrolled in this school.

In 1871, just in time for fall classes, the high school on the island was finished. This is the same year that the last high school class graduated.

There were only 3 members in this class. Their names were Flora Shirley, Edwin Morrill and Emily Varney.

image of westerly side of Island Avenue

Westerly Side of Island Avenue, looking south, probably taken about 1870. This is a scene of Skowhegan island with the second high school building shown at the left.

Elementary classes were held here and continued until the early 1980's. Presently in the building is the Lyndon Huff photograph collection which is very extensive. Mr. Huff's father and grandfather were also photographers and their pictures were part of the collection. There are more then 20,000 pictures in this building!

The building has been vacant since the 1980's and it would be nice to have fundraisers and raise lots of money to get this building up and going as a museum or a historical society. Saving old buildings like this one is important to a community because it is part of our heritage. Many historical buildings become torn down and this one could be a place where the history of Skowhegan could be researched and displayed.

Morgan Hisler is an eighth grader at Skowhegan Area Middle School.


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