GILMANTON — The Gilmanton Historical Society presented a guided tour of the town to the Gilmanton School fourth-grade class recently. The field trip is expected to become a regular part of the New Hampshire history curricula at GES.
Historical Society President John Dickey led the tour which began at the Old Town Hall, now site of the Gilmanton Museum in the Iron Works, and continued with visits to various historical sites throughout town.
The following article was written by student Karina MacLeod, about two points of interest along the tour.
"Once the town of Gilmanton had many schoolhouses, 18 to be exact. One schoolhouse, by the name of Loon Pond School, has been restored to its original condition. We learned what it was like to go to school back then. The children would quickly run inside when the school bell rang. They would take their lunchboxes of wood and metal and place them on the shelf in the coat room. The children would sit two to a seat in rows according to their ages. The teacher would ring the attention bell and class would begin. The children being equipped with slates and chalk would practice writing and math and reading with posters with sentences on them called guides. At music time, the teacher would play the piano and the children would sing along. The children would have lunch and recess and then they would repeat math, writing and reading before walking home.
"The Town Hall today is used for meetings, voting, licenses and other things. Many people don't know its history and may not know when and why it was built. In 1784, the Academy, as it was called back then, was built. Ten years after the Academy was built, it was destroyed by fire. The Academy was rebuilt in 1797, only to catch on fire again in 1807. The town loved the Academy and they had it rebuilt in 1808. Ninety-nine years later, three months before its 100th anniversary, the Academy had a play to celebrate the occasion. During the play, one of the oil lamps fell and ignited a fire. The townspeople thought they had put out the fire and cleaned up the oil, but they didn't. For some oil had crept under the stage. After the play everyone went home and went to sleep. Near midnight, the Academy caught on fire again and by the time everyone got there, the flames had burned their beloved Academy to the ground.
"The town loved their Academy and yet again, they rebuilt it nine months after this tragedy. In 1910, the Academy closed till 1920 when it became a public school by the name of Corner School. It taught lessons until the present day Gilmanton School opened and it became as we call it today, Town Hall."
We hope Karina's article will inspire children and families to come explore the museum. Summer hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
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