A black tray dated 1956 with white chalk signatures of students to their beloved teacher Florence Rideout was found in the basement of the 1895 wing at the Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton. Kathleen Baglio Humphreys
Wilton, Lyndeborough work to preserve school history
WILTON -; Looking toward the future of the towns'; elementary schools, the Wilton-Lyndeborough Elementary History Committee is trying to compile a record of the schools'; past.
The committee is asking anyone who wants to share stories, photos or videos of the Wilton or Lyndeborough elementary schools to get in touch. A book and possible DVD will be available when the project is completed.
Committee member Walter Holland said, “The goal is to preserve the history of the two schools as they are now, before the renovation, then to document the renovation, demolition and reconstructing, and to preserve school memories visually with photographs and video.”
The construction is part of a reconfiguration of prekindergarten through grade 5 in the two towns.
In preparing the Florence Rideout Elementary School in Wilton for demolition of part of the 1950 wing, historical artifacts were found in the basement including, ironically, photographs from when the wing was built.
A bronze plaque with the inscription: “To the children of Wilton, Sponsored by the W.E.S. Friend Group, built by the Townspeople on September 12, 1987” was found in the basement of the 1895 building honoring the town';s effort to raise funds and build a tire-and-timber playground, which lasted until around 2007, when it was replaced with a modern play set.
The plaque will be placed in the soon-to-be constructed school along with other artifacts, including a black tray dated 1956 with white chalk signatures of students to their beloved teacher and school namesake, Florence Rideout, plus a plaque that accompanied a flag that was flown at the U.S. Capitol on May 19, 1992, by request of Congressman Dick Swett in honor of the Florence Rideout school.
The original 1895 building once bustled with high school students. It became an elementary school when the new consolidated high school was built on School Street.
Before demolition of the old wing begins, committee members and volunteers have been interviewing former students, including current school board member Joyce Fisk, who was in the last class to graduate the school, and current students about their memories of times in the classroom.
The 1950s wing will be demolished in two phases and replaced by a new building. The 1895 wing, including the gymnasium, will be renovated.
In Lyndeborough, multiple classrooms will be renovated to meet state kindergarten standards, and the SAU 63 staff will relocate there.
When the construction is complete in September 2016, Wilton and Lyndeborough will share the elementary school in Wilton for grades 1 to 5 while prekindergarten and kindergarten students will be housed at Lyndeborough Central.
For more information on the history project, contact elementary Principal Tim O';Connell at 654-9381 or email@example.com.