The Cumberland Historical Society showed off its relocated and newly renovated old schoolhouse building Saturday, along with a special “Remembering Our School Days” exhibit. Devin Gifford / For the Forecaster

The old schoolhouse building in Cumberland reopened its doors with a special exhibit Sept. 10, two years after being moved to its new location behind Prince Memorial Library.

More than 100 community members turned out to check out the Cumberland Historical Society’s renovations to the 169-year-old building, which include new floors, windows and ceilings, an elevator to make the building handicapped accessible and a basement.

The schoolhouse was built in 1853 on Blanchard Road in Cumberland and classes were held there until 1952. Devin Gifford / For the Forecaster

The basement approximately doubles the size of the building, said Brian Jensen, a trustee of the historical society. It includes a climate-controlled room that allows more artifacts to be safely stored and also houses a bathroom and kitchenette.

“This gives us a lot of possibilities, so we’re excited about that. We’re excited about being able to do displays like this and change them periodically,” historical society Director Judy Gagnon said.

Featured in Saturday’s “Remembering Our School Days” exhibit were desks from the old Drowne Road school, report cards from the 1935 school year, high school yearbooks and a Greely baseball jersey from the 1950s.

A Greely High School baseball jersey from the 1950s is among the items in the “Remembering Our School Days” exhibit now on display. Also featured are desks from the old Drowne Road school, 90-year-old report cards, yearbooks, photos and other memorabilia. Devin Gifford / For the Forecaster

“Everything that’s here is from Cumberland,” Gagnon said.

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The schoolhouse, built in 1853 at 4 Blanchard Road, functioned until 1952, and afterward served as a town office and police station before it was occupied by the historical society in the 1980s.

The Town Council approved the relocation in June 2019, and after a few delays, the 1,400-square-foot building was moved 0.2-miles to the new site on the southwest side of Prince Memorial Library on Main Street in May of 2020. The trip took 15 minutes and cost the town about $40,000.

Despite concerns for the structural integrity of the building during the relocation, all went well.

“This building withstood the move with a loss of a total of four bricks,” said Steve Moriarty, chairperson of the historical society.

The building remained closed for nearly two years while it underwent renovations.

The historical society has plans to connect the old schoolhouse to the library to create a “cultural center” for the town, Moriarty said. That project also would contribute to the historical society’s goal of making its exhibits more accessible. Currently, the historical society is open mostly by appointment, but if the building were to be connected to the library, exhibits would be more available.

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Meanwhile, the historical society plans to continue curating exhibits and sharing Cumberland’s history with the community. It hopes to increase its staff and be open more regularly, Gagnon said.

Saturday’s turnout, she said, is indicative of the town’s support of the historical society.

“We’re really grateful for the town and their support of us. They understand the importance of the history,” Gagnon said.

Freelance writer Devin Gifford, a student at Greely High School, is a resident of North Yarmouth. 

The basement at the old schoolhouse has a climate-controlled storage space for Cumberland Historical Society artifacts. Devin Gifford / For the Forecaster

 

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