Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: School-houses

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School-houses

No information can be gleaned from the town records, about the first school-house, or any other, built during the first half-century of its history. It is, however, safe to presume that at first the school was kept in a house built of logs.

The first mention of a school-house is an entry made in 1692, during King William's war. The people, liable to be attacked at any moment, had built a fortification around the meeting-house, and at a town-meeting held on the 17th of May, 1692, voted to extend the line of this fortification so as to enclose more space; and liberty was given to build houses in it according to the custom in other forts. It was also voted to build within the fort, at the town's expense, a house fourteen by sixteen feet, for the use of the minister, and when not occupied by him, to be used as a school-house."

At a town-meeting holden September 14, 1696, it was ordered that such materials of the old parsonage-house, about to be taken down, as would not be needed in finishing a new house, should "be improved by the selectmen for the building of a school-house."

On July 14, 1693, the town made two grants of land, one of an acre and a half at the Falls side, and the other of one acre at the town side, to be appropriated for school-house lots forever. The one at the town was to be laid out "on the easterly side of the fort near Philemon Dalton's, sos as might be least prejudicial."

The town voted, September 22, 1712, that a school-house twenty-four feet long and twenty feet wide should be built on the lot granted for that purpose near Deacon Dalton's house, and be finished by the last day of April following. It was also voted that the selectmen for the time being should have full power to build the house, and to raise a tax on the inhabitants of the town to pay for it. The lot on which this house was built is the one on which the Center school-house stands; it has been used as a school-house lot (some changes having been made in its form and size), about one hundred eighty years.

The school-house built in 1712-13 was destroyed by fire bout twenty-four years afterward, and on March 8, 1737, the town voted that it should be replaced by another of the same dimensions, for the building of which, the town would pay £25. If it be asked why a larger house was not needed to accommodate the school in 1737, than in 1712, as during a quarter of a century the population must have increased, let it be remembered that more than half the territory of Hampton had been taken to form the parish (or town) of Hampton Falls, which included Kensington and part of Seabrook.

Nothing definite is known in relation to other school-houses built before the year 1800. Those used in the early part of the present century were small, inconvenient and uncomfortable. About the year 1825, new school-houses were built in three of the districts. These were all of brick, and were far better adapted to the purposes for which they were designed than the former ones had been. One of these -- that in Bride Hill district, -- is still standing, the only brick building in town.

In 1855 a new school-house was built in district No. 3, sufficiently large, well proportioned, well finished and attractive in appearance. The internal arrangement is creditable, and the house has been kept in good repair.

In 1873 the brick buildings in districts No. 1 and No. 2, that had been occupied by the schools about fifty years, and the wooden building in No. 1, that had been used by the primary school about half as long, were removed, to give place in each district to a better school-house, meeting the wants of a graded school. The buildings are of wood, and were finished in season for the winter schools. They are nearly equal in size, but differ in plan and style of finishing. They are two stories in height, each containing a large, well-furnished school-room on each floor, with ante-rooms and other conveniences. The house at the "east end" is forty-six by thirty-two feet, the lower story, twelve feet high, and the upper, ten feet. The whole cost, as shown by the bills, $5,358.70. The house at the center is forty-seven by thirty-two feet, each story, eleven feet in height; the whole cost, as reported by the building committee, $4,485.

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