Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Proposed Changes
Several propositions have been made, at different times, for the removal of the Academy to a more central location, and its conversion into a high-school. In the spring of 1871 overtures were made by the town to this end, to which the trustees responded favorably. At a special town meeting, June 1, 1872, it was voted to establish a high-school; and a committee, consisting of Randolph A. DeLancey, Joseph Dow, F. H. Lyford, David S. Brown and Charles M. Lamprey was chosen, to confer with the trustees of the Academy, in regard to the removal and use of the Academy building, for high-school purposes. On the 14th of June, the trustees held a meeting, and passed the following votes:
"That the executive committee of the board be authorized to cooperate with the town committee in removing the Academy building, purchasing a lot, fitting up, etc., without expense to the trustees:
That the town committee shall make selection of teachers, in the confirmation of whom, the trustees shall have a negative:
That the town committee shall decide the qualifications of pupils entering the school, and shall have a joint interest in prescribing a course of study, and in the general management of the school."
An enabling act was immediately procured from the Legislature, approved July 3, 1872, by the provisions of which, the town was authorized to contract with the trustees, on such terms as might be agreed upon, for uniting a town high-school with the Academy. A school-house lot was purchased, and preparations were hastened for moving the building, when the whole plan was frustrated, through the opposition of certain individuals of influence; and the operations of the school settled back upon the old basis, the land being conveyed again to the former owner.
Still, the question of removal was agitated from time to time, and at last was decided by the application of the Rockingham Lodge of Odd Fellows, for the permanent use of the hall, for which they were willing to pay sixty dollars per annum, provided the building were suitably located.
On the 1st of March, 1881, Dr. William T. Merrill, George W. Lane and Christopher G. Toppan were chosen by the trustees a committee to buy land, move the house and fit it up. Mr. Toppan donated an acre of land centrally situated, in a large field between the two main roads to the beach; and on the 22nd of January, 1883, all preparations have been completed, the building was moved by eighty yoke of oxen and several pairs of horses, attached in four strings to heavy cables, obtained from the Portsmouth navy yard. The first start moved the building a few feet only. In seventeen minutes from the second start, it stood proudly on the new site, nearly half a mile distant, amid the ringing of bells and the vociferous cheers of the populace.
During the spring and summer, extensive repairs were made, and a road was laid out through the Toppan field. The Odd Fellows' hall was duly furnished, dedicated and occupied; and the school went into operation in September, 1883, after having been closed for more than three years.