Scarborough Historical Society members visit the Beech Ridge School. Courtesy photo

Before there were big yellow school busses, school children in Scarborough for the most part walked to school. To keep the distances from their homes doable, back in the 1800s Scarborough had over a dozen one-room district schools spread throughout the town. A single teacher taught the elementary grades to each neighborhood’s school children.

All the district schools were torn down or repurposed over time – with one exception. Although vacant for decades and falling into disrepair, District No. 7’s Beech Ridge School that was located at 184 Holmes Road managed to survive over the years. In 2018, the Scarborough Historical Society stepped forward to save this important part of the town’s history. The society was deeded ownership so it could proceed to raise funds and oversee the restoration of the building.

Thanks to donations and grants for the project, much work has been accomplished. Phase I started with lifting the building so a new foundation could be poured. Later the rotted sills were replaced while adding a brick veneer to provide the appearance of the original foundation. After the interior was gutted, a basement stairwell and bulkhead were added. Phase II of the restoration work will include, among other things, putting in insulation, electricity, and plumbing. The roof will be shingled and new windows and doors installed. Lastly, historically accurate vertically-sawn exterior clapboards will be applied to the exterior of the building.

Once the restoration work is completed, the building will be available to the community for multi-functional uses. As an educational component, period school artifacts and displays will help visitors learn what school was like in a one-room school in an earlier time.

The Scarborough Historical Society is appreciative of the funding it has received for the project from the Town of Scarborough and the Prouts Neck Historical Society, in addition to donations made by many other supporters.

We are well on our way to saving this precious remnant of our past, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We hope for additional donations toward the $150,000 currently needed to finish the job. Checks may be sent to the Scarborough Historical Society, P.O. Box 156, Scarborough, ME 04074, or donations made to The Scarborough Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, making all much needed donations fully tax deductible.

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