CENTER CONWAY SCHOOL
Compiled by Mrs. A. M. D. Blouin, School Board Member, and read
by an 8th grade pupil at the dedication of the Pine Tree School
in the fall of 1914.
information we have gained relating to the schoolhouses and
schools in this village of Centre Conway is a real "Little
Red Schoolhouse", which was situated on a knoll at the
western end of the village. It was in use in 1847 at which time
Mr. J. E. Morrill, one of our late prominent citizens, attended
I will give a brief description
of its interior arrangement. It had a sloping floor, thus making
the rear seats higher than the front row. The teacher's desk
was at one end of the low middle part and the door at the other.
The stove occupied the center. The scholars evidently attended
in a hit or miss sort of way. As late as 1863 it seemed impossible
to keep the school term for any length of time, notwithstanding
the fact that, at one time, the months of school were very few
When a term opened the children
quite generally were all present, probably to look over and
size up the new teacher. After the newness wore off the scholars
would drop out, at will, and the term would end prematurely,
drag along with one or two scholars in attendance. It is sad
to know that even in the '6O’s one child, at least who
lived within plain sight of the schoolhouse went out into life's
work only able to make his mark instead of writing his name.
Miss Delia Walker (now Mrs. Tobias Eastman of Fryeburg) taught
the last school in this "Little Red Schoolhouse" in
A new lot was selected and
a new schoolhouse built a little to the east of the old lot
where Archie Mason's house now stands. It was a neat, trim building
painted white with green blinds and furnished with modern furniture
with two pupils in each seat. According to the Town Report of
1879 this was the first fine school building in the town. This
building is now the Town Office and Library building, having
been moved to its present location after they built schoolhouse
number 3. Miss Susie Zounds of Sweden Me. , was the first teacher.
She was followed by Miss Abbie M. Dole of Limerick, Me., (now
Mrs. Blouin) and who since that time with the exception of a
few years, has been continuously connected with the schools
of Conway, either as a teacher of member of the School Board.
During the year of 1879
there was 31 weeks of school. Rev. Mr. Norcross was Supervisor
of Schools at this time, and held the office for many years.
He took great pride in the fact that he could call every child
in town by name. In the report of 1892 we find this statement
concerning the Center school. "This school is too large
for one making a primary grade". There were 52 pupils enrolled.
The following spring the
School Board, with the consent of the Selectmen, opened a school
for the primary grades, in the old Town House with Mrs. Mattie
Stark Smith as teacher. There were 20 pupils registered.
In 1895 The School District
appropriated the sum of $2000. for a new school house at Center
Conway. The Commissioners were called upon to locate the new
building and a lot of land was purchased from Mr. H. McNorton
upon which the new building was placed and a new road opened
to the same. This was a 2 room building and arranged with modern
furniture, slate blackboards, etc. The first teachers in this
building were Harry A. Greenwood of Wales, Me., grammar; Miss
A. H. Chadbourne of Mattawamkeag, Primary. In 1899 the pupils
of the school, through the energy and interest of W. H. Whitaker
(always known as "Billy") secured a bell and placed
it in the tower of the school building. In 1907, through the
efforts of the teacher, Mrs. Ella F. Hasty and the pupils, a
piano was purchased and placed in the grammar room. This acquisition
was much enjoyed by the pupils in the building.
In 1909 the District voted
to enter a Supervisory District for the purpose of employing
a Superintendent of Schools and Mr. Ernest C. Witham of So.
Boston was employed.
In January 1912 Mr. and Mrs. George Cameron presented the primary
room with a nice organ.
In June 1912 Superintendent
Witham tendered his resignation and Mr. A. J. Knowlton of Belfast,
Me., was secured by the Supervisory District for this position.
By reason of the amount of work the two teachers were compelled
to do to keep this school up in grade with other schools it
was decided to have an assistant Miss N. Masterton was engaged
and the office of the School Board in the Town Office building
was used for a recitation room. As cold weather came on this
was not feasible so a partition was placed in the center of
the primary room and a room thus arranged for the intermediate
grades. The teachers at this time were Miss Witham, Miss Goodwin
and Miss Gushee. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1914 an alarm of
fire was sounded and a dense gray smoke told people of the Centre
that the schoolhouse was on fire. From appearances the fire
started in the attic. The building was so filled with smoke
when the fire was discovered that nothing was saved.
Besides school supplies
and apparatus belonging to the school district, there were nice
pictures in each room, the piano, organ, many books of reference,
dictionaries, etc.; also a picture of the first flag given by
the D.A.R. of No. Conway.
A short time before the
primary pupils had gotten a "Soap Order" and purchased
a pretty book case. in which were arranged many specimens of
nature. The intermediate school, at the close of the winter
term, gave an entertainment, "A Trip to Europe", and
raised money and bought an unabridged dictionary and holder
for their room. Gifts of a flag, 40 volumes of Annual Cyclopedias,
a desk and pictures for the teachers' room had been given the
school by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Baird. The school
district at the annual meeting in March, 1914 made an appropriation
of $8000 for a new school building. In order to have a new building
with all modern improvements, it was decided to purchase a new
lot and the present lot was bought from H. E. Potter.
Various architects submitted
plans and the one by Huntress of Lawrence was decided upon.
Mr. Ross Ward of Intervale was given the contract. The building
committee was Mr. W. E. Garland, Mr. Geo. Petrie, Mr. L. A.
Hill, Mr. L. A. Prescott and Supt. A. J. Knowlton. Much credit
should be given contractor Ward for the great pains he has taken
to have everything of the best, and to the committee for their
We have invited you to this opening for inspection and we trust
you will all be pleased and will feel that Centre Conway has
again, in 1914, the finest school building in town.
Copied from the original
given me by Mrs. A. M. D. Blouin in the fall of 1914 --E. M. Masterton,
primary teacher 1914-1921 1943-1960
Copied from original notes given me by Mr. A. M. D. Blouin, but
not used by her, in her history write up that was read at the
dedication of Pine Tree School in the fall of 1914. -~E. M. Masterton
Primary teacher 1914-1921
The Little Old Red Schoolhouse was
sold and moved into the Centre of the village on the lot just
east of the Town House, and forms the nucleus of the attractive
residence of Mr. McLoy.(now -1962- Frye's residence)
The Archie Mason property referred
to in this paper is just east of the Center Conway Chair Saw Co.
of today (1962) Schoolhouse No.3 was built on a lot about where
the Town Garage now stands (1962).
In 1892 Columbus Day was publicly
observed by the Centre Conway School. The pupils, with aid from
their energetic teacher, Miss Addie L. Allard, had purchased a
fine flag and with appropriate exercises, it was un furled over
the school building on Oct. l2th. In 1898
Lafayette Day was observed and quite a generous subscription
was forwarded as a patriotic and public spirited gift from this
school, to go to the fund being secured by the school children
of the land, for the erection of a monument to Lafayette in Paris.
They also contributed many bricks
towards the building of Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. The
children raised money by entertainments, sufficient to purchase
a set of Students Cyclopedias. The following year, 1900, they
purchased a beautiful large globe for the grammar school room
and later purchased a smaller one for the primary room. They also
purchased a variety of books such as would be helpful to them
in their work and gave them to the Public Library in this village.
this random history of our schools you will readily see that we
have been favored with teachers the best to be obtained for what
could be paid them and then have enthused the children with a
spirit of patriotism and love for the school. The children of
today are not behind those of earlier years and are always ready
to respond to any call.