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Early Brick School Stories

SeacoastNH.com
BREWSTER’S RAMBLES #140

In one of his most fascinating essays, Brewster talks about early schooling in Portsmouth. He rambles on about corporeal punishment, offers a timeline of teaches and offers a lengthy list of students. Included is a description of Shakespeare performance and the story of the school struck by lightning.

 

 

 

MORE School Rambles

RAMBLE CXL.
The Brick School-House in State Street
Teachers former and recent -- School Dramatic Exhibitions -- Struck by Lightning.

Editors Note: This can be confusing stuff even for local historians. C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth, New Hampshire columnist and editor in the early to mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values. From Brewster’s Rambles About Portsmouth, 1859 exclusively on SeacoastNH.com. – JDR

Brewster's Rambles on SeacoastNH.com THIS edifice was within the range of the great fire of 1813, and all of it that was combustible was then consumed by the insatiable devourer.  It was a building of no little note, for it was at that time not only the place for two schools; one the High School of the day, kept by Master Eleazer Taft, and the other but a slight grade lower, kept by Master Samuel Bowles,--but within the building on the north side, was a room for the Town Records and the Town Clerk's office, and another for the Selectmen.  On the north, six feet from it, extending into State street, was a brick watch house of one story.  The entrance to the school-house and offices was by a door on the centre of the north side; and where the recitation rooms have since been erected was an avenue to the play ground on the south side of the house.  The building was then symmetrical in form, surmounted by a belfry, in which a good bell was hung.  We give the particulars, for it is a matter of some interest to hundreds now living, to go back half a century to the scenes where they were "boys together."

This spot has been used for a public school house since 1735, previous to which time the only public school-house was one below the south mill.  The house was at first individual property, belonging to the Wenworth family, and by Ebenezer Wentworth was given to the town in 1735, in exchange for a school lot on Daniel street, given by Mrs. Graffort for school use.

The original house, probably with some additions, remained until about eighty years ago.  It was of one low story, built in the style of the old south school-house.  We can find no record of the early teachers.  Before and after the Revolution, Major Samuel Hale here taught for many years, and gave the right bend to the twigs of those days, as the after life of some of our best citizens, who have continued with us until the last thirty years, show.  Another teacher who kept in the old house after Major Hale, was Mr. Morse, of whom we only know that he requested such scholars as Dr. William Cutter and others of his class, to leave the school, as they knew as much as the master.

CONTINUE with Brewster's SCHOOL MEMORIES

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