Andover Schools

In an old history written by Henry Varnum Poor, he declares that when the town was about twenty years old, he attended the village school at the tender age of three, and that he sat from eight a.m. until five p.m. on the hard wooden benches, with an hour at noon for lunch from a tin pail and a short recess in mid-morning and mid-afternoon. He describes this early schoolhouse as little more than a shell, protecting children only from rain and snow. The fireplace was in the center of the room, and it was often near zero around the sides. The "Three R's" were the lessons taught here. Mr. Poor recalls that eighty years later the motto of the Andover High School graduating class on June 24, 1904 was "Labor Conquers All." A paper titled "The Real Conditions of Human Progress" was read at that graduation. Real advancement in Education that first hundred years in our Town of Andover

In the early days when children walked to school or, if lucky, rode behind a horse, the town had seven schools and sometimes more, for if some remotely located family had eight or more children, a teacher boarded in one of the homes and used a room for a schoolhouse. An 1891 report notes that James Lohnes rented a room for a school at $2.00 a term. The town paid the teacher's board then, but their salary was only from $3.00 to $7.00 a week.

Also in 1891, the School Committee reported, "We have complied with the free textbook law this year at a cost of $345.39." The total appropriation that year was $850.28 for the seven schools.

The School Districts were:

Number 1- The Village

Number 2 - South Andover

Number 3 - East Andover

Number 4 - North Andover

Number 5 - Farmers' Hill

Number 6 - Located a short distance west of Black Brook bridge, called"Blackberry Academy"

Number 7 - North Surplus, near Stony Brook.

Emma Burdett lived on the South Arm Road. She rode her bicycle to Black Brook on the Pond Road to teach in the one-room schoolhouse called "Blackberry Academy." One morning, Mrs. Dolly Elliot heard a call for help and, looking out, saw Emma and her bike down on the dirt road. Mrs. Elliot hurried out and found Emma's long skirt entangled in the wheel of the bicycle. She had to cut it out, and then take Emma inside to sew up the hole before the young school teacher could go on over to her duties. Miss Emma Burdett married Mr. Howe, who used to sell popcorn and peanuts at the Andover Fair.

When Number 6 was discontinued, the Harding children were transported by "team" and at the expense of the town, to either the Village School (Number 1) or the East Andover School (Number 3), depending on which could accommodate them at the time. Sometime after "Blackberry Academy" was discontinued, the building was moved over beside the Hook and Ladder Building, where Merton Perkins now lives.

In 1912, all nine grades and the high school were in the Village building, the original building having been raised up and made into two stories. The elementary teachers got about $8.00 a week and the high school teachers $17.00 per week. The average attendance in high school was 27 in the winter term, 23 in spring, and 24 in the fall. In those days, the children were allowed to begin either in the spring or in the fall, so the primary teacher sometimes found herself with an extra grade.

At one time, a private kindergarten was sponsored by Bert Rand, owner of the only brick house in town. He wished his children, Miriam and Winslow, and their friends to have pre-school training, so he furnished a small house (which had been the Temperance House years before and which is still there in 1979) on his land near his home with the proper small tables and chairs and secured a teacher, Miss Mary Cushman (Levermore). Marie Elliot (Lang) and Laura Newton (Learned) visited this school and thought it quite wonderful.

It is interesting to note that in 1914, with Dr. E. F. Leslie on the school board, a bubbling drinking fountain was installed at the village school and sanitary drinking cups were furnished for the other schools in Andover.

By 1915-1916, the village school was so crowded that the school board recommended buying the old Methodist Church land and contents for the sum of $6,000, this to house some of the grades. However, a special town meeting that year resulted in the purchase of land and the construction of a high school on Back Street. The following year, the superintendent was pleased to report that Andover had a Class A high school with two full-time teachers.

The superintendent reported, in 1917, a need for the pupils of the elementary grades to have more than the usual thirty weeks of school per year. Andover High School had thirty-six weeks of school.

In 1918 the new law regarding the union of towns under trained superintendents went into effect and the union of Andover, Byron, Roxbury, and Mexico was formed.

The ninth grade was dropped from the elementary schools in 1919-1920. The school at South Andover (Number 2) was temporarily closed and the children were transported to the village part of the 1920-21 school year. New sanitary toilets had just been installed at the village school. It wasn't until 1921-22 that all of the Andover schools had a thirty-six week year.

The school at Farmers' Hill (Number 5) was discontinued in 1921, and the children were transported to East Andover, where a new "privy," connected to the building by a ventilated passageway, had been constructed to comply with the state laws. Note was made that the same must be done at Number 4 and at South Andover (Number 2) within a year.

In 1926, each teacher in the village school had only two grades, instead of having two teachers with three grades and one having two. For a while after the new high school was erected, one room at the village school was used as a play room.

In 1928-1929; the roads were open to the use of cars in winter, and Superintendent Spinney hastened to recommend the consolidation of the North and South Andover schools with the village school. In 1929 the South Andover pupils were transported to Elm Street School in the village; the school at South Andover was officially discontinued in 1930. The Number 2 school still stands and is the home of a former teacher there, Mrs. Grayden (Dot) Campbell.

It is interesting to note that in 1931 the teachers and children of Elm Street School earned $71.38 for the installation of electric lights in their school, and that in 1935-1936 Herbert Hall paid for installing lights at the high school by doing janitor work. (Page 11 of the 1936 Town Report.)

By a special town meeting in the summer of 1937, the school at Number 4 was discontinued and pupils transported to Elm Street School. So, at last, Superintendent Spinney's dream of a consolidated school was finally realized; he had not recommended that East Andover's school children be brought to town. Eventually, the Number 4 building was torn down and the lumber used in construction of a home on the left side of the road leading across from Number 4 to the Surplus Road.

In 1935-36, the pupils of Grades 5 and 6 were transported from East Andover to Elm Street School, thus making it possible for the first four grades to attend a full day. For several years, the East Andover school had held two sessions, one half-day for lower grades and one half-day for upper grades. Lacking one elementary teacher in 1944-1945, the pupils of East Andover were all transported to the Elm Street School, but the school was reopened in the fall of 1945. It had to close after Christmas, 1946, for lack of a teacher. It was reopened in the fall of 1947 with kindergarten and grades 1 through 4.

In the spring of 1946, the village school building caught fire and was damaged by smoke and water. The following summer (1946), when the fire damage was being repaired, new toilets and coat rooms were added to the Elm Street School, at the back of the building.

The eighth grade went up to join the four grades in high school in the fall of 1947 and another teacher was added, making three at the high school building. Elm Street School added a class - the sub-primary - with a half-day session for those pupils and a half-day for the first grade taught by the same teacher. It was in the fall of 1953 that the seventh grade joined the eighth at the high school building, thus creating a junior high.

In 1935[?] a gymnasium was erected close beside and adjoining the high school building. This was accomplished through the united efforts of the alumni, residents, and friends of the town of Andover.

Webmaster's Note: The 1935 date may not be correct.

In the summer of 1958, two new classrooms, an office, toilets, showers, and a special room for kindergarten pupils was added to Andover High School. That fall, the sub-primary moved to its new rooms and became known as the kindergarten. The town then began to put aside some money each year toward building a new grade school.

In 1964, a committee brought in reports with regard to joining either a Rumford-Mexico or Bethel Administrative District. By vote of the town on July 14, 1965, Andover accepted the offer to join M.S.A.D. #44, composed of the towns of Andover, Bethel, Greenwood, Newry, and Woodstock. It was duly organized on August 16, 1965. This M.S.A.D. consisted of eleven schools and two gymnasiums, one at Andover and the other at Woodstock. There were 1,186 pupils in all, with 212 in Andover.

Soon, plans were underway for a S.A.D. high school. If a six-year school was built, with two junior high grades and the four years of high school, Bingham Foundation funds would be available, and so it was decided.

The grammar school building fund, which amounted to $46,563.80 on June 1, 1965, and school funds of $1,370.28 remained with the town of Andover. In 1967, the fifth and sixth grades went to school at the Andover High School building, making it possible for each teacher in the Elm Street School to have only one grade. In the fall of 1968, Telstar Regional High School opened, and the Elm Street School was closed. The former Andover High School building became Andover Elementary School, with a principal and a music teacher. The following year, an art teacher was added to the staff. The Elm Street School building was torn down about 1972, and the ground was leveled for parking space.

In 1971-1972, the "Continuing Ed." plan was started with grades two through five, and the next year it was expanded to include all grades. Double doors were cut between rooms and wonderful audio-visual equipment really got into action. In 1977-1978, with Joyce Morgan as principal, the "open class rooms" closed. The doorways between rooms were firmly filled in, and each room is once more a self-contained classroom. The extra teachers for music, art, and physical education still come, however.

Thus our town has progressed slowly but surely from the days of only the three R's," taught with almost no equipment other than a slate and pencil, children who walked--sometimes barefoot--to school and ate a scanty cold lunch from a tin pail, to the 1970's, with many teachers and helpers, much equipment, and hot food for lunch served from a modern cafeteria. It would be difficult to judge what child was happier or learned more toward helping him to live each day of a good life--the barefoot boy with cheek of tan or the really modern little man.

Andover Alumni Association

The Andover Alumni Association was organized following suggestions by the then-high school principal, C. Volney Sweatt, that such an organization would be helpful in "filling a long-felt need for an occasion on which graduates of Andover High School might meet each year and recall their own school days." There were one hundred present at the first banquet and ball in 1928.

Miss Ethel McAllister, Class of 1899, represented the first graduating class from Andover High School, and Mrs. Emma Burdett Howe was a representative from the old high school which preceded Andover High School. From this time on, the banquet and ball became an annual event.

The real belles of the ball on June 3, 1928 may well be the first officers of the Alumni Association: Mrs. Doris Ripley Geiger, Class of 1921, Vice-President; Miss Ivy Thurston, Class of 1918, Secretary; and Mrs. Faye Dresser McLeod, Class of 1922, Treasurer. The late Steven Abbott, Class of 1911, served as the first President of the Association.

Copied from Violet Swain's 1978 Article in the "Times"

This year (1979) will be the fiftieth (50th) Anniversary. Should anyone wish a list of all the officers Violet Swain has them on file.

Retired Teachers

Andover has produced an unusually large number of trained teachers for a town with a little less than eight hundred population. At the present time most of the retired teachers are members of the Oxford County, State and National Associations. Sometimes there will be two car loads go to an Oxford County Meeting. These meetings are once a month except three winter months.

East Andover Teachers Hold Reunion

The first reunion in many years of former teachers of the East Andover school was held one Sunday afternoon at the school which was closed by Town vote in 1958.


Several times throughout the years Parent Teachers Associations were started with much enthusiasm and great promise, but each time they soon folded up for one reason or another. The last time they were in action, most everyone agreed that the young people needed an Activity Center. The Town gave them permission to use the building on the east side of the Town Hall, under which Town road equipment was stored.

A stove was borrowed, wood given, furniture collected. Books, games, and whatever the parents thought should make it interesting was placed there. Parents started signing up as chaperones, but it soon got out of control and was closed and none has been started now for a long time.


Each year in the spring the Elementary School and teachers put on plays, songs, and recitations for parents and friends at the Town Hall. The High School put on plays, had Prize Speaking Contests and basketball games. There were both boys' and girls' teams.

Source: Andover: The First 175 Years, Prepared by the Andover Friday Club, Andover, ME, (1979), pp. 89-100, Reprinted with permission of the current owner, The Andover Educational Fund, Inc.

Copyright 1998 by Robert A. Spidell, All Rights Reserved

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