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The S Road School Preservation

The formal re-opening and dedication of the restored S Road School took place on Saturday, June 22 2010. Located at the intersection of Route 129 with the S Road, the one-room building was constructed in 1860 and was an elementary school until 1943. It has not been used since then except for a brief attempt at restoration in the "70's"; all the furnishings were discarded or given away many years ago.

The Historical Society expressed appreciation to all those who contributed to the S Road School Restoration Fund, to the many individuals who donated furnishings and supplies, to the contractors who worked with care on the building and the site, and to the Society members who directed the effort. More than $93,000 was raised in donations from over 210 individuals, 9 Foundations, and the Town of South Bristol at its Town Meeting, a sum sufficient to complete the restoration and establish a fund to assure the future of the building and the educational program.

Now that the restoration is complete, the only remaining one-room schoolhouse in the Town of South Bristol is ready for use as an educational and historical resource. The environment experienced by students and teacher in a small fishing village in the 1930's has been re-created, opening a window on life during an important but often overlooked period in our town's history, the Great Depression. Present-day students will spend several days at the school just as it was in 1930; no central heating or indoor plumbing, no computers or audio-visual equipment, no water fountain or gymnasium. Lessons will be taught by one teacher for all grades using the same textbooks some of their grandparents used, many of which have been found on site and still bear the names of those who used them in the 1930's.

In addition, a small portion of the building is devoted to exhibits and documents related to education in South Bristol over the years. The building is open to the public from 1 to 4 pm on Friday during July and August. The Thompson Ice House Museum, located within walking distance from the Schoolhouse, is also open at that time, providing visitors with two unique opportunities to experience what South Bristol was like more than 65 years ago.


The S Road School, also known at various times as District 5, the Neck, Main, or Roosevelt, was constructed in 1860 for the sum of $600. This building replaced a "poor schoolhouse" that was on the 1857 Map of Lincoln County. "By 1895, enrollment was about 16 but rose to the mid-twenties after other schools closed in the early 1900's. The place was fixed up in 1901 and again in 1918. Upon the death of the teacher in 1943, the school was closed due to lack of a replacement and never reopened." from Woodstoves & Backhouses, by Philip Averill.

Sarah Emery taught at the S Road School in 1906 and possibly 1907, then at the school on Rutherford Island in 1908, '09 and '10. She received a degree from the Eastern State Normal School at Castine in 1912. As related by Sarah Emery in interviews with Richard Hawkins in 1975, she attended Castine Normal School in the summer of 1914 and learned how "to make teaching rural children more interesting. They studied such things as how to operate a Victrola." Upon returning to teach at the S Road School in 1915, Sarah recalled in the 1975 interviews that "electricity had been in. I went to the [Thompson] hotel down here and they gave me lamps to go around, probably a half dozen maybe not too many, but it would light the room." Before electricity, "there were no lights. When it was a thunderstorm we couldn't see to study." Miss Emery continued teaching at the S Road School through the 1935 school year, with the exception of 1923 when she was on leave.

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