The Lower Green Schoolhouse: A History
Saturdays & Sundays
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
June, July, & August
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
September & October (through Columbus Day)
Other times by chance or appointment.
Please e-mail HistoricalComm@townofnewbury.org
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Lower Green, Newbury MA 01951
At intersection of Newman Road
and High Road
(Massachusetts Route 1A)
The Lower Green Schoolhouse (also known as District School No. 1) was built to replace an older, smaller school building which stood directly adjacent to the new structure. When the current building opened in 1877, the town dismantled the old school and sold the wood to help fund the new school. The new structure’s high ceiling, good ventilation, and large windows were lauded in School Committee Reports as state-of-the-art features. The building was only occupied for twenty years, however, before closing in 1897 due to low enrollment. Students from the Lower Green area who wished to attend school were transported to the Ridge School, across from the intersection of High Road and Hay Street.
Due to the hardship of daily travel to the Ridge School, the Lower Green Schoolhouse was opened once again in 1898. During this time the new Woodbridge School was being built on High Road, across from the Upper Green. When the Woodbridge School was ready, students from the Lower Green and Upper Green schools were moved to the new building, and students from the Ridge School followed shortly thereafter. The Lower Green Schoolhouse was once again closed and remained unoccupied between 1899 and 1908.
In 1908, the building was opened temporarily to house 7th, 8th, and 9th graders during a renovation and expansion project at the Woodbridge School. Primary school students met at Parker Hall, which used to stand diagonally across from the First Parish Church. By 1910 the school was closed again as students returned to the larger Woodbridge School.
In the years that followed, the town tried several times unsuccessfully to sell the building. In the early 1930s it was altered for use as an equipment storage facility for the town’s highway department. A large sliding door was installed on the back of the building to allow vehicles and landscaping equipment to park inside. The building remained “the town garage” for over 60 years.
In 1974, the Massachusetts Bicentennial Commission announced a fund-matching program for towns who wished to embark on an historic preservation project. A small group of Newbury citizens began exploring the restoration of the Lower Green Schoolhouse and several editorials appeared in The Daily News supported the effort. At town meeting, the people of Newbury authorized the expenditure of up to $9,500 to restore the schoolhouse. After the matching funds from the state, a total of $19,000 was available for the project.
Armed with early photographs of the building, detailed descriptions from a former student, and the assistance of architect Edward DesJardins, restoration began. Many original items, including the pump organ and all of the desks, had been sitting in the attic untouched for decades. A new woodburning stove was installed after the original stove was found in very poor condition in the barn of a neighboring farm. Old floorboards from Newburyport’s Jackman School were located at a Salisbury lumber yard and used to replace rotten or missing sections of the floor. Interior moulding and framing were reconstructed from salvaged materials from an old schoolhouse being razed in Lowell. The large sliding door was removed and the rear wall restored to its original appearance, with a single door which once led to the privy.
The restored schoolhouse was dedicated on May 8, 1976 with many dressed in 1877-era garb. For many years, Newbury Elementary School used the building for special programs recreating school life of the 19th century. Although the building was somewhat dormant during the first decade of the 2000s, a newly-appointed Historical Commission brought life back to the school in 2012, opening the building on weekends during the summer. Many interesting items from school days gone by have been donated by townspeople and can be seen inside, along with a small library of research materials related to Newbury’s 375+ year history.
Newbury Historical Commission : : 25 High Road : : Newbury MA 01951 : : HistoricalComm@TownOfNewbury.org : : www.Newbury1635.org