Old Schoolhouses

One room schoolhouse at Salisbury Heights, now serving as the The Salisbury Free Library.

At one time the town of Salisbury had 14 school districts with one room schoolhouses and one teacher each to help educate children of various ages.  Some seem like quite remote locations but at the time in the early to mid 1800’s the town was dotted with larger farms, a large population and extensively cleared land. The districts are listed on this page.

In an Oral History Project conducted by Paul S. Shaw MD. from about 1998- 1990, several of the towns elders share their recollections of their life in the Salisbury.  One of the topics that several discussed were the old schoolhouses or their participation on the school board.

You can read recollections of the old school days from the Oral History Project by Paul S. Shaw and Gail Manion Henry on the link below:

Remembering  The Old School Days

For Images:  Mills School,  Smith’s Corner School, Salisbury Heights Center Village Schools

To get some idea of what it may have been like inside one of of these one room schoolhouses we are including here a link to a beautiful video created by the Andover Historical Society of NH, the town next door to ours, which shows it quite well.  The school is called The Tucker Mountain School and is still open to visitors at specific times.  At this point we do not know if our schoolhouse had slanted floors as this one does. The earliest schoolhouse had fireplaces rather than wood stoves. Once wood stoves were introduced it is logical that it would have been placed in the center of the room rather than the front as is shown in this video, thereby creating a somewhat more even heat. The blackening of walls which turned them into visible blackboards would also have made good sense. Individual desks were introduced sometime later in the 1800’s. These bench style longer desks were the most economical ways to furnish a schoolhouse in the small farming clusters throughout the town.


A map drawn up by the Central New Hampshire Regional Cultural Planning Commission in 2007 shows old mills and school locations (#18-32).  To see the CNHRCPC map go to:


The District numbers and  information below come from excerpts of John Dearborn’s History of Salisbury:

 EDUCATIONAL.—At the first town-meeting it was voted ” to raise some money for school purposes.” In 1772 twelve dollars was voted to support a school; it was also voted ” to raise half a day’s work on the single head, to be done on the south end of the sixty-acre lot, which was laid out for the school.” This lot was situated on Searle’s Hill, on the centre range-way, opposite the ten-acre meeting-house lot. The school-house was built in the summer of 1772 and was the first in town.

In 1778 the town was divided into four school districts. The school-houses were wooden-framed, boarded and shingled and furnished with windows and fire-places. One was located near Smith’s Corner. It was built by Beniah Bean for three hundred and ninety-eight dollars. The second at South Road, built by Deacon John Collins for six hundred and eighty dollars. Another was situated at the Centre Road, nearly opposite F. W. Fifield’s present residence, built by Edward Fifield for six hundred au«l seventy-eight dollars; and the last was at North Road. Mr. Andrew Pettingell receiving four hundred and ninety-four dollars for building it. Such buildings soon after could have been completed for less than half the cost of these. But money was so much depreciated that labor commanded eight dollars per day. The amount raised annually for schools at this time was about five hundred dollars, while three thousand dollars were appropriated for the improvement of roads.

In March, 1784, it was ” Voted to sell all the school lands and put the principal in the bank and use the interest for the support of schools in the town annually.” It was also voted at the same meeting “to sell the school-houses belonging to the sd town and the money be contributed to the use of the town.”

The sale of the school-houses brought, in the aggregate, $63.75 each, and the land was sold to Ephraim Colby for three pounds, fifteen shillings and three pence per acre. In 1786 the town raised two hundred and ten dollars, in lawful money, for the support of schools, and ordered each district to provide its own schoolrooms.

In 1791 a school-house was built at the Lower village (now the Orphans’ Home District in Franklin). In this building Daniel Webster attended school and later in life taught. The second school-house, at the South road, was built by subscription in 1787. After the academy was removed from its original location to South road the school was transferred to one portion of it and has since continued.

In 1819 the town was divided into eleven school districts and there were school-houses in nine of them. Changes were subsequently made, increasing the number to fourteen.

No. 1, located at South road, was organized in 1820.
No. 2, known as Centre Road District, was formed April 2,1823.
No. 3, called ” Sawyer’s,” organized in 1820. (Greeley)
No. 4, located at Scribner’s Corner, at the west part of the town.
No. 5, at the North road.
No. 6, the Mills District; school located there as early as 1806. In 1884 a new, commodious building was erected.
No. 7, at “Smith’s Corner” at the more westerly part of the town. The first school-house was erected in 1782. The second was twenty by twenty-five feet, erected in 1789. In 1825 the district was reorganized and a new school-house erected.
No. 8, located at ” Thompson’s Corner.” The first school-house in town was on a site included within the limits of this district. This may have a replacement for the Searle’s Hill School at this time.
No. 9, on Lovering’s Hill.   Established in 1826.
No. 10, ” Watson District,” on the southern spur of Kearsarge Mountain. A school-house was built here as early as 1812.
No. 11 is on Raccoon Hill, known as the ” Shaw District.” The school-house was built in 1847 and thoroughly repaired in 1876.
No. 12, located at ” Shaw’s Corner.”   The second school-house was erected in 1820 and the third in 1881.
No. 13, situated at the Lower village (now the Orphans’ Home in Franklin). The present building is of brick.
No. 14, at the East village in Franklin. Ebenezer Eastman gave the land for ” educational purposes” in 1816. The first school-house in that part of Salisbury was built in 1805-6.


SALISBURY ACADEMY.—At the close of the last century Salisbury was the residence of an unusually number of prudent, intellectual and scholarly men. They had pride in the good name of the town, and looked forward with cheerful anticipation to a higher position which it might hold in the State, and saw the advantages which would result from a permanent institution of learning, and, at length, united in the establishment of an academy. The petition was presented to the Legislature for an act of incorporation at the winter session, in January, 1795, and the act of incorporation was granted December 22,1795.

The board of trustees, by authority of the Legislature, had the charge of the institution. The academy was erected on the ridge of Garland’s Hill, and was two stories high. Soon after its erection the Fourth New Hampshire turnpike was built, which practically left the academy on an old road and away from the business portion of the town. It was proposed to move the building to South Road village and open it under new management, and for that purpose contributions were solicited, the removal taking place April 29,1805.

In January, 1806, the district school began on the lower floor, the upper room being reserved for academical purposes. Extensive repairs have been made as needed, and in 1883 a projection was added to the south end of the upper story, new floor laid, the stairway made more convenient and the room fitted up into a fine hall. The academy has had three charters. For a long period it gained and sustained a reputation for good scholarship and excellence in all its departments. Its standing was not inferior to the best institutions of its kind in the State. Following are the list of teachers, so far as known:

Thomas Chase was the first instructor when it was located on Garland Hill. He was succeeded by James Tappan, Rev. Samuel Worcester, Rev. Noah Worcester, D.D., Ichabod Bartlett, 1804; Hon. Richard Fletcher, 1809; Samuel I. Wells, Esq., 1813-16; Nathaniel H. Carter, A.M., 1811; Lamson Carter, 1815; Stephen Bean, Rev. Benjamin Huntoon, 1817-19; Rev. Daniel Fitts, D.D., 1819-22; Zachariah Batchelder, 1822; W. Bailey, 1813; Henry Greenleaf, 1822; Caleb Stetson, 1825-26; Henry Fitts, William Claggett, 1826-27; Alfred Kittredge, 1828; Caleb B. Kittredge, 1829-32; Rev. B. F. Foster, 1838-89; Charles T. Berry, 1840; Elbridge G. Emery, 1842-43; David Dimond, 1843; Caleb P. Smith, William S. Spaulding, A.M., 1844-45; S. C. Noyes, J. H. Upton, -_____ Clark, Hon. William M. Pingree, Rev. E. S. Little, Dr. J. Q. A. French, Dr. Crockett, D. B. Penticost, Rev. E. D. Eldredge, John A. Kilburn, 1851; John W. Simonds, John R. Eastman.