SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOL HOUSES
The Town of Dexter was divided into five districts by a special committee. The districts were numbered 1-2-3-4-5, etc. and as the town became more populated, more districts were added until there were thirteen.....from 1817 to 1876.
I don’t believe that I will be able to pin-point these schoolhouses in the exact spot. In district No. 1.....known as the South Ridge District there was a one room schoolhouse across the road from the Dexter Airport that was built about 1824.
The first schoolhouse in Dexter was built in 1812 on the Upper Garland Road. District No. 2, known as the Carr’s Corner District was built in 1812. Located about one half mile from the site of the Dexter dump on the right side of the road overlooking Puffer’s Pond, now Echo Lake. There is a metal marker showing the exact spot of the schoolhouse. It re- mained at this location until 1819. The townfolks decided to move it down the road a short distance but it got stuck in the mud west of Carr’s Corner and there it stayed until 1845. A new schoolhouse was built further down the road around the corner and it stood at this location until 1998. It was then donated to the Dexter Historical Museum and moved next to the Millers House near the Museum.
District No. 3.....known as the Cooledge District. A schoolhouse was built in 1821 on the Charleston Road and remained at this location many years and then abandoned and a new one was built a short distance east of the original one.
District No. 4.....known as the Storer District a schoolhouse was built in 1820 north of Lake Wassookeag.
District No. 5.....known as the Additon District in the southwestern part of the little township a schoolhouse was built in 1825.
District No. 6.....schoolhouse built on Main Street on the site of the Crosby & Crosby law office.The first town meeting was held in this schoolhouse September 9, 1822. Class- es and town meetings were held in this building up until it became necessary to construct a larger building because of rapid growth of the town. A two story building was constructed on the present site of the Dexter Town Hall.
The schoolhouse was constructed in 1837. The first floor consisted of two classrooms and the second floor was used as a town hall. This building was used in this capacity up until 1856 when an unusual accident occurred. During a town meeting the second floor coll`apsed sending over three-hundred people tumbling to the bottom floor. Oddly enough, no one was killed but I’m sure that a number of folks had some broken bones. The building was sold to the Amos Abbott Company and moved to a site at the end of their mill to be used for a storage and counting room.
After all of this commotion was over, District No. 6 decided to build a high and grammer schoolhouse at the junction of School and Dexter streets. (An exact replica of this building can be seen at Exeter Corner and is being used as a dwelling house.) District No. 6 schoolhouse was constructed by Daniel Plummer and Sam Small. It remained at this location for twenty-five years and then burned to the ground.
In 1852 a building was erected on Cedar Street known as “the brown schoolhouse”and another building, almost the exact duplicate was built on Free Street. The one on Free Street has since been demolished and the one on Cedar Street is still standing and belongs to the V.F.W.
Sometime after the schoolhouse on the hill (at junction of School and Dexter Streets) the township citizens became interested in putting up another high and grammer school building. It was a long time coming because of the differences of opinions on the site and other little ‘petty’ arguments.(You know how it is when everyone has to express their own thoughts!!) From 1884 to 1889 there were ten or more meetings and finally on June 1, 1889 the town folks voted to purchase the so-called Chandler lot on Spring Street for the new high and grammer schoolhouse. An extension containing four rooms and a base- ment were added on the south side in 1913.
The Peachy Brothers of Augusta demolished the school in 1969. The lot was pur- chased by the First Free Baptist Church in 1975 and the church building was moved from it’s home on the corner of Spring and Center streets five-hundred yards down the road where it now rests.
District No. 7.....a schoolhouse was built in the Spooner’s Mill area around 1831 and known as the Spooner’s Mill District.
District No. 8.....known as the Russell District. A school building was constructed in 1833 at the corner of West Garland and Jaquith roads. It was replaced with a new one in the year 1912 and still remains in the exact spot and being used as a dwelling house.
District N. 9.....known as Haseltine’s Corner District. The schoolhouse was put up in 1834.
District No. 10.....known as the Silas Crockett District. Schoolhouse was built in 1835 on the road leading to French’s Mill........this District, at present time is known as the No.10 District. The school is still standing and being used as a meeting place for school reunions.
District No. 11.....known as the North Dexter District was organized in 1838 and a ‘little red school house’ was erected.
District No. 12.....known as Skimmer Lane District. A schoolhouse was constructed in the year 1840. Built on the road leading to the old electric light station and remained at this location till 1902.
District No. 13.....known as the Owlsboro District. A schoolhouse was built in 1834.
It must have been very fraustrating to teach school back in the early days. No elect- ricity, no running water, no hot lunches, no bathroom and only one room for pupils of all ages.
An interesting note about the teaching profession concerning the wages. The lowest wages paid female teachers was one dollar per week and the highest was three dollars and fifty cents. Male teachers fared much better with a pay of seventeen dollars per month as the lowest and forty-two dollars being the highest. Teachers worked five and one-half days per week and put in six hours per day.
Sometimes, a special teacher was hired to teach “hard schools”, where the big boys had a habit of lugging the teacher out of the class room. Mr. Isaac M. Russ was the spec- ial teacher hired for this ‘chore’ and as far as is known, none of the ‘big boys ever lugged him out’.
Back in the year 1825 or 26, a Mr. Baker or Reverend Samuel Baker started a boarding school in Dexter that was supported by the “Maine Conference of the Methodist Churches”.
Boys and girls paid their way by working at odd jobs on the farm that was associated with the school. Boys did the farm chores and girls did the housework.
Elder Baker, as he was sometimes called, was a little ‘odd’. On Fast Day he made his pupils and dumb animals fast such as placing sweets or something fancy on the dinner table and not allowing them to partake of any of it. He was so strict that on Sundays he would tie the head of a rooster to prevent him from dishonoring the Lord’s Day by crowing.
Contact Jim Wintle by email or call 207-924-7598.
|The Daily Me * 122 Number 10 Road * Dexter, Maine 04930 * 207.924.3067|