March 26, 2014 by rochesterhistoricalnh
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE OLD AND NEW SCHOOLHOUSE
Excerpts typed from “Report of The Building Committee for the New School December, 1st 1858” & “Report of The Dedication of the New School December, 7th 1858” by C. S. Whitehouse. The entire reports can be found at the Rochester Historical Society.
To the residents in school district No. 7 who are particularly interested in the erection of this House, and which today you design to dedicate to the improvement of your children’s moral and intellectual welfare, the Building Committee has directed me to make the following Report.
Were I to follow the inclination of my own heart I should briefly pass over the dry details of facts, dates, and statistics generally and occupy the time allotted me in indulging in pleasant reminiscences of the Old School House – in portraying in a [ ble] manner, the march of improvement in Schoolhouse Architecture, within the past twenty years, and in anticipating with much honest pride, the benefits to be derived to us and our children from a right and judicious use of the present structure – but such is not the province assigned to me, and therefore leaving such congenial parts of the subject to those who may follow me in today’s exercises, I shall simply and briefly sketch the inception, progress-and successful completion of the House-
For nearly ten years past, the Old School House was the subject of much discussion among our citizens. Its dilapidated roof – its rattling squeaking doors and its antiquated seven-by-nine windows were the cause of much concern to the youngest sprigs of the district- of much contempt from the young folks, just budding into their “teens”, of much annoyance to tidy housewives- and I might add of much indifference to our taxpaying Fathers & Brothers – had the anathema launched against it during the last decade of years possessed the solidity of Bricks, there would [not have] been any occasion to have advertised it at auction in any terms, than as so much powdered clay and lime to be sold- Luckily their denunciations possessed no such demolishing power…fathers and mothers waited till its toppling chimney threatened to raise bumps on their heads…
… The sarcasm launched at it then- the ridicule heaped upon by boys and girls of all ages, and its own worn out appearance was too strong an argument to be withstood…
Hon. NV Whitehouse … said the present [new] house was the third one which had been used for school purposes in the district since he was a boy – and his earliest recollection of school boy days dated back to a schoolroom not a quarter the size of the present one, and that of the rudest and plainest kind – to a building which was yet standing down at the corner of the street, and which hardly furnished space for a kitchen and bedroom. … He contrasted very forcibly the limited advantages they derived from their six week winter term and the manifold opportunities enjoyed by the youth of the present day. The writing desk they used was nothing but a coarse bench ranged upon one side of the room: a large fireplace filled with wood almost roasted them upon the front seats, while the excessive ventilation from the cracks in the floor and badly fitted windows and doors, chilled those upon the back seats.
[The new school house] will prove a model house for our school districts to take a pattern from. Its general style and arrangement of rooms are the finest and most convenient of any we ever met with. The building is 38 feet wide & 48 feet long and its style of architecture partakes of the Greek and Gothic combined. The outside walls are painted light drab of a very pleasing shade, and the trimming brackets – corner and base boards and ornamental finish generally painted white. The windows, two in the front, four on each side – and one large oval in the rear- are large and hung with weights and pulleys & to be furnished with green blinds. Over the top of each is a light hood with ornamented brackets. The window in the rear end is an oval top with side lights, and plain finish. A large door hood with heavy brackets and a wide balcony at the top, protects the front doors. An ornamented belfry very tasty in its design and finish rises from the front ends which with the elegant door hood gives a very light and cheerful appearance to the whole building as viewed from the outside. Steps lead to a platform, from whence two large front doors, one each for the boys and girls open to the Entries. The latter are abundantly supplied with hooks for the clothes of the pupils. From the Entries, a door leads to the Anterooms, each of which is feet by feet and feet high in the clear both lighted from the two windows each of the same size as those in the schoolroom. The walls are covered with an excellent white skim coat, smooth and hard – Each of them are furnished with two settees for the accommodation of the scholars and visitors. The stoves, two in number, are placed in the partition of the anterooms, and project into the schoolroom from whence two lengths of pipe traverses the whole extent of the schoolroom – In close proximity to the stoves are the doors to the wood closets, which are immediately in the rear of the entries.
The schoolroom itself is one of the finest anywhere outside of the cities- It measures 38 feet square and is 16 feet high in the clear. – a quarter span arch at the corners makes the room look higher. At the rear end of the room is the teacher’s platform, 6 feet wide and extending the whole length of the room – At each end of this platform are two cabinets, one for the use of the teacher and the other to contain such apparatus and curiosities as may belong to the school. The furniture consists of eighty solid cherry wood desks, on ornamented iron supports braced, and well fastened to the floor. Hard wood chairs to match. Both made in the best style by WG Shattuck of Boston- There are six sizes, suited to all ages from four years to twenty, in eight rows. Between each row is a two and a half foot alley and in the center a three foot one. The light comes in from six windows upon the sides, and the one in the rear of the teacher’s desk- Two ventilating flues, in the end of the room, opposite to the entrances, and near the ceiling, affords an escape for all the ventilated air. The blackboard is on the wall between the stoves. The walls and ceiling are skim-coat and a center piece of appropriate design, adorns the middle of the ceiling – As a whole it is one of the best school rooms to be found in the states and received the unqualified approbation of every one. It was built by Mr’s Locke and Cater of Bennington under the direction of Mr’s C.S.Whitehouse, Downing Varney, and Rufus Clarke.