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Otisfield's One-Room Schoolhouses

This slideshow contains 26 items
1
Scribner Hill School, Otisfield, about 1898

Scribner Hill School, Otisfield, about 1898

Item 7336 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Like most Maine towns, Otisfield consisted of a number of villages, each with its own school. Before the automobile was invented, children walked to school, sometimes as far as three miles.

Schools were all one-room affairs serving grades one through eight with one teacher. Most teachers were unmarried women who boarded with a family nearby. In the nineteenth century, schools had at least two and often three terms: summer, winter, and fall, each lasting 10 to 14 weeks.

Otisfield had 14 different school districts, each with its own school. Photographs exist of many of these schools. How many were open each term depended on the number of children in the district. Otisfield's population was highest between 1830 and 1860, peaking at about 1,350 in 1840. During this period the town built three brick schools -- on Bell Hill, at Spurrs Corner, and at the Gore.


2
Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1910

Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1910

Item 7371 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Of Otisfield's three brick schools, only the Bell Hill schoolhouse, built in 1839, still stands. Probably because of its long use, more photographs exist of this schoolhouse than any other in town.

Teacher Hattie Searles is in rear of photo. In front of her are Margelia Dyer (later Hamlin), on left, and Gertrude Reed on right. Third row from back is, left to right, Clyde Hamlin, Marion Stone, Effie Stone, Doris Hamlin (later Culbert), and Henry Heikkinen. Front row, left to right, Lydia Heikkinen (later Merrick), Matti Heikkinen (on step), Willard Stone, and James Reed.


3
Bell Hill School students, 1916

Bell Hill School students, 1916

Item 7383 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Bell Hill, where the town's first meetinghouse was erected in 1798, was then the population center of town. The brick schoolhouse and a new meetinghouse, also constructed in 1839, still stand side by side, both now owned and maintained by the Bell Hill Meeting House Association.

Students are, back row, left to right: Victoria Hoglund, Doris Hamlin (later Culbert), Lydia Heikkinen. 2nd row, Orin Lord, Effie Stone, Doris Ridlon, Marion Stone. 3rd row, Matti Heikkinen, Amo Kalweit, Ralph Dyer. Front row: G. Howard Dyer, Willard Stone.


4
Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1939

Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1939

Item 7378 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Although the Bell Hill schoolhouse was in use until 1940, it never had running water or plumbing. It was heated by a stove near the rear of the building. A small entrance room served as cloakroom and washroom. A shed attached to one side of the schoolhouse contained the privies and the wood supply. It was not electrified until about 1927.

Students are: Front row, left to right, William Oberg, Mark Mills, Paul Hartson, Gordon Peaco; 2nd row, Barbara Randall, Audrey Oberg, Barbara Peaco, Olga Tikkinen; back row, Carl Tielinen, Milton Mills, Anthony Norton.


5
Scribner Hill School, Otisfield

Scribner Hill School, Otisfield

Item 7333 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The schoolhouse at the top of Scribner Hill no longer exists. Once it was no longer used, sometime after 1924, it fell into disrepair and eventually disappeared.


6
Scribner Hill School, Otisfield, 1924

Scribner Hill School, Otisfield, 1924

Item 7334 info
Otisfield Historical Society

This photograph, taken in 1924, is one of only two pictures known to exist that were taken inside any Otisfield school.


7
Interior, Scribner Hill School, Otisfield

Interior, Scribner Hill School, Otisfield

Item 7335 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Of particular interest in this interior photo are the benches at the front of the room that may have been used for students' recitation exercises.


8
Gore School, Otisfield, ca. 1918

Gore School, Otisfield, ca. 1918

Item 7298 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Like the Bell Hill school, the brick schoolhouse at the Gore also was built in 1839. It was demolished about 1927 and replaced with a wooden building with better lighting and ventilation.

In the photo are, left to right: Orrell Linnell, Roland Annis, Ralph Thomas, Ellis Ahonen (front), Lester Thomas (tall boy in rear), teacher Irene Dolby (dark haired in rear). Small boys in front are Robert Thomas and Loren Brett, girls are Helen Brett (rear), Helen Ahonen (front), Doris Annis (tall, in rear), Rita Linnell (front); two sisters in black were visitors named Phillips, descendents of Samuel Phillips, early owner of Phillips Gore.


9
Gore School, Otisfield, ca. 1921

Gore School, Otisfield, ca. 1921

Item 7299 info
Otisfield Historical Society

This photograph was taken in 1921. It shows teacher Ruby Jillson in plaid dress; student Helen Brett, standing next to teacher; and Helen Ahonen, bottom left. Others in the photo have not been identified.


10
South Otisfield School

South Otisfield School

Item 7338 info
Otisfield Historical Society

South Otisfield, also called Dunkertown, was another busy Otisfield village that, in addition to its school, once had a corn factory and a Baptist church.

The only person identified is Ernest Winslow, in back row, far right.


11
Dunkertown School (South Otisfield) about 1924

Dunkertown School (South Otisfield) about 1924

Item 7278 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The schoolhouse, now gone, was located on the Forrest Edwards Road near its junction with the Powhatan Road. It was probably last used as a school in the 1920s, but was later used as an artist's studio.

Students identified from left to right, bottom row first: Ellsworth Scribner, George Welch, Ephraim Jillson, Otis Field Jillson, May Tenny, Esther Severy, Nancy Jillson.


12
Swampville School, Otisfield

Swampville School, Otisfield

Item 7319 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The Swampville School was situated in another part of the town that is now sparsely populated. The Swampville Road, which connects the Bell Hill Road and the Bolsters Mills Road, is today an unpaved road with only two houses on it. One of these houses formerly served as the town farm where, between 1865 and 1927, a small number of poor people lived, along with the farm's superintendent and his wife.


13
Swampville School, Otisfield,  about 1910

Swampville School, Otisfield, about 1910

Item 7279 info
Otisfield Historical Society

In the 1940s this building was moved several miles to the village of Bolster's Mills, where today it serves as a residence.

In the photo are teacher Nettie Hancock, back row, left to right: Nellie LaTulip and Albert Hamlin; front row, left to right: Errol, Calvin, and Vida Smith (later Vida Culbert), and Clyde Hamlin.


14
Rayville School, Otisfield, ca. 1925

Rayville School, Otisfield, ca. 1925

Item 7684 info
Maine Historical Society

The school at Rayville, named for early mill owner David Ray, stood at the junction of the Jackson Brook Road with the Rayville Road. Although the schoolhouses built in Otisfield's 14 districts were similar in architectural style, this building, like the East Otisfield schoolhouse, was distinguished by its belfry.


15
Rayville School, Otisfield, about 1915

Rayville School, Otisfield, about 1915

Item 7374 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Like several of the other Otisfield schoolhouses, after the town consolidated its schools, the Rayville school was moved to a new location and converted into a private home.


16
East Otisfield Schoolhouse and Mill

East Otisfield Schoolhouse and Mill

Item 7959 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The village of East Otisfield also grew up around a mill, shown here along with the schoolhouse.


17
East Otisfield School about 1910

East Otisfield School about 1910

Item 7316 info
Otisfield Historical Society

East Otisfield was once commonly known as Pugleyville, perhaps because one of the mills in the village produced ceramics known as pugs. This building, which became a residence, was replaced by a newer building in a different location in the 1920s.

Students in back row, left to right, are Ruth Lamb, Elvira Edwards, Cynthia Mayberry, Earl Spiller, Charles Macaulay. Middle row, left to right, are Ethel Scribner (later Hirst), Ruby Jillson, Marion Spiller, Margelia Dyer (later Hamlin), Nellie Pottle (later Hankins), David Jillson. Front row, left to right: Eddie Wood, Lena Kemp, uniden. boy, Edith Macaulay, Carl Lamb. Teacher Blanche Smith. Unidentified boy lived in small house on Rayville Road.


18
Spurrs Corner School, Otisfield, about 1910

Spurrs Corner School, Otisfield, about 1910

Item 7337 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The background of this photo shows the brick schoolhouse in Spurrs Corner, built in 1839 and replaced by a wooden structure in the 1920s.

Students identified are as follows. Back row, 1st girl unidentified, then Henry Hamlin, Clifton Lombard; unidentified girl, then Sarah Hamlin (later Hanscom). Middle row, left to right, first three unidentified, then Charlotte Nutting, two more unidentified, Elinor Hamlin (later Lombard), and Esther Morey. Front row, left to right: first unidentified, then Albert Dean Nutting (in sweater), Charlotte Nutting, and Carl Fickett. Apparently Ellsworth Stuart and Elwin Morey are also in photo but names cannot now be matched with faces.


19
Spurrs Corner School, about 1950

Spurrs Corner School, about 1950

Item 7961 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Our forebears were thrifty people. Whenever possible they recycled their old buildings. After Otisfield consolidated its schools, for instance, they moved the discontinued schoolhouse from Spurrs Corner to become part of the new consolidated school at East Otisfield, or Pugleyville. Here is the wooden school on its original site in the village of Spurrs Corner.


20
Spurrs Corner School, Otisfield, ca. 1950

Spurrs Corner School, Otisfield, ca. 1950

Item 7962 info
Otisfield Historical Society

This 1950 photograph shows the schoolhouse being moved. In its new location it became the Otisfield Central School.


21
East Otisfield School, about 1930

East Otisfield School, about 1930

Item 7375 info
Otisfield Historical Society

This is the 'new' building in East Otisfield, shown in 1930, to which the Spurrs Corner School was added in 1950.


22
Otisfield Central School about 1990

Otisfield Central School about 1990

Item 7380 info
Otisfield Historical Society

This photo was taken sixty years later, after a new wing was added. When a new Otisfield elementary school was built about 1991, this building was transformed into the Otisfield Town Office. The town office today looks much as it did in this 1990 photo when it was still being used as a school.


23
East Otisfield School, about 1913

East Otisfield School, about 1913

Item 7376 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Only a few persons in this 1913 photograph at East Otisfield School have been identified. In the front row, second from left, is Nellie Pottle (later Hankins), then Eastman Bean, Eva Bean (later Kemp), and Estelle Pottle (later Stone, standing with toes turned in). Boy at far right is David Bean. Girl in back row, far left, is Cynthia Kneeland.






24
Wardwellville Schoolhouse, Otisfield, 1998

Wardwellville Schoolhouse, Otisfield, 1998

Item 7963 info
Otisfield Historical Society

At least nine of the nineteenth century schools still survive in one form or another, most of them transformed into residences. The school buildings at Bell Hill and Wardwellville have met opposite fates.

The Wardwellville schoolhouse, located in what is now a rather remote section of town, was named for the many Wardwell families who once lived there. This photograph, taken in 1998, shows a desolate building that once served as a community center and later became a backwoods hunters' camp. Its walls are now covered with graffiti and trees grow through the floors of the building where children once learned their ABCs.


25
Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1899

Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1899

Item 7339 info
Otisfield Historical Society

The old brick schoolhouse on Bell Hill has met a happier fate. Last used as a school in 1940, for a number of years it was occupied only by porcupines. Today, thanks to the efforts of the Bell Hill Meeting House Association, it is furnished again with desks, stove, and chalkboards, serving as a concrete reminder of a different style of schooling in centuries past.

Students identified are Blanche Spiller (later Ripley), third from right in back row; and George B. Turner, far right, back row; two of smaller girls in front are probably Sara Spiller and Grace Spiller (later Dyer).


26
Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1899

Bell Hill School, Otisfield, about 1899

Item 7379 info
Otisfield Historical Society

Text by Jean F. Hankins, Otisfield Historical Society

Images from Otisfield Historical Society and Maine Historical Society.

Bibliography: William Spurr, History of Otisfield, Maine; Otisfield Historical Society archives; Otisfield Schoolhouses (videotape of OHS program), NPC-TV, Norway, Maine, 2003.



This slideshow contains 26 items