SINCE THERE’S BEEN recent buzz about building a new middle school and eventually re-purposing or razing antiquated Elm St. Middle School, it’s worth mentioning one school that has stood the test of time.
I know that you have driven by it on hundreds of occasions and probably ignored the adorable, tiny building whose dimensions are 24 feet by 30 feet.
District #1 Schoolhouse is located just after the entrance to Royal Crest Apartments and before the right turn to Royal Ridge shopping center on the Daniel Webster Highway. It sits in the Old South Burying Ground cemetery and remains one of the Gate City’s first public schools.
The former one-room country schoolhouse is a precious landmark that replaced an earlier wooden schoolhouse.
Even in those days, communities grew, buildings became outdated, and the city responded. “The Schoolhouse (District #1) is in great need of repair. The consequence has been considerable irregularity of attendance, from colds,” wrote committee officials.
According to the NashuaSchoolHouse.com website, the district’s residents decided to raise the money to build a new District #1 in 1841 at a cost of $629. The chosen site was right next to the cemetery because the land was cheaper — only $75 for the lot. The new school was made of red brick with granite stone steps.
Today, “Little Red Schoolhouse” serves as a great field trip experience for fourth graders in the Nashua area. It will reopen in late March to a new round of visits. We can thank members of Nashua’s Kings Daughters Benevolent Association, who were responsible for the renovation of this educational gem, and the efforts of Susan Fineman, a Schoolhouse Preservationist.
Like Elm St., Spring St. Junior High was another landmark school building that people felt a deep connection to.
Spring St. was built in 1919 and initially opened as Nashua High School. But by the early 1980s, the large facility was falling into disrepair and would require $6 million in renovations. The site also lacked the land for athletic fields.
Things did not look good for the downtown junior high, especially when the state gave the thumbs-up to build a new Hillsborough County Superior Courthouse there. To make room for parking and any other expansion in the future, the school had to be razed.
Residents went berserk. Many felt sentimental, blasting the idea of demolishing Spring St. when it could be repurposed for senior apartments or a youth center. In 1988, Pennichuck Jr. High School was built off Henri Burque Highway, replacing Spring Street.
We all survived, and I’m sure that history will repeat itself again as educational needs arise.