Fun Fact - History of Maine Schools
The York Corner Schoolhouse and Jefferds Tavern, 3 Lindsay Rd., York, Maine
The towns in York County, adjacent to Massachusetts, were the earliest settled in the state. Most of the early records were destroyed during the Indian wars, so there are no records or reliable history of schools prior to 1700.
In 1701, following a vote of the town, the selectmen of York “Indented and bargained with Mr. Nath’l Freeman to ceep a free school for all the inhabitants of our town of York, for which the town to pay said Freeman for one year eight pounds in or as money and three pence per week for teaching to reade, and four pence per week for writing and sifering and no moor". Arrangements were for some dwelling house.
The first recorded action of a school house was in the town of York on March 9, 1724—when it was voted that “a schoolhouse shall be built at ye lower end of ye town on ye ministerial land this year at ye town cost.
Maine, a largely rural state, had 4,000 one-room schoolhouses by 1900. That number fell to 226 in 1960 and today only a handful remain.
York has one that survived, the York Corner Schoolhouse. It’s one of the earliest existing 18th-century one-room schoolhouses in the country. The town started building it in 1746, then paid two pounds 13 shillings to finish it nine years later. The windows had no glass, just oiled brown paper, and the school had no stove, just an open fireplace.
After the schoolhouse closed, a farmer converted it to a chicken coop. Local preservationists saved the building and converted it to a museum. Today it belongs to the Old York Historical Society’s nine historic buildings. In season, visitors can tour the Old Schoolhouse and Tavern.
Maine, by the way, still has six island one-room schoolhouses.
If you enjoyed this story about one-room schoolhouses, you may also want to read about the first public high school in each New England state here. Courtesy of New England Historical Society.
To read more history of Maine and education. (Originally printed as a booklet under P.L. 89-10, Title V grant in 1970 Reformatted for DOE Website in 2000)