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CENTRAL SCHOOL by Ferne Baldwin
Source: NMHS Newsletter, May 1994
In July of 1994 ground is to be broken for a new 2.2
million dollar North Manchester Library to be built on
the old Central School lot on North Market Street. Funds
for this building have come from the Mary Peabody
estate. This library will be an especially wonderful
addition to the town.
It seems appropriate to briefly consider the life of
this lot as an educational area and the continuing focus
on education provided by the new library.
The original Central School was built in 1874 at a cost
of about twenty thousand dollars. It was a two and a
half story brick building used for both elementary and
high school classes. It was heated by wood stoves and
lighted by coal oil lamps. Drinking water came from a
nearby well. Near the northwest corner of the lot was
the standpipe, completed in 1894, which still stands and
is still used. The area around the school was shaded
with maple trees but there was space north of the
building for outdoor games. The main front entrance
facing Fourth Street was used only by teachers, high
school and eighth grade pupils and visitors. The school
bell in the tower could be heard all across town.
The basement was used for science, manual arts and
domestic science. Physical education was not part of the
curriculum. Both boys and girls were expected to get
their exercise working at home. Sometimes on Friday
mornings a local minister or some entertainer would
appear for one period. The janitor lived on the
premises. The building was used until 1922.
The cost of the new Central School was about $140,000.
The classes rotated to the teachers and study hall was
held in the library. This building was torn down in
Some of the special memories related to this building
concern the gym floor. There was a dead spot in the
floor where a ball would not bounce and visiting teams
often lost the ball there. Termites were a constant
problem and on one occasion when the Civic Symphony
moved the grand piano one leg went through the floor.
Many people now living have memories of this Central
School. Some may remember when Mr. Freed's Crosley was
placed between two trees. Others remember the twinges of
memory when Central came down-slowly it seemed for a
"decrepit" old school-in 1976.
And now for nearly twenty years the Central lot has
stood vacant and silent except for some ball games or a
few miscellaneous gatherings. It seems so very
appropriate that now it will once more be a place where
children and adults will become part of the great
adventure of learning.