Exterior renovations on the one-room Beech Ridge School are finished. Interior work is underway. Contributed / Scarborough Historical Society

The Scarborough Historical Society has been working to restore the Beech Ridge School building, built in 1870, since acquiring it in 2018 – and a $2,500 grant from the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce will help them get across the finish line.

The Beech Ridge School on Holmes Road, where classes were held from 1870 to 1947, is the last one-room school in town still intact. The 12 others have either been torn down or repurposed.

Work at the Holmes Road site in 2019. Contributed / Scarborough Historical Society

From its closure until 2018, the building was owned by the Beech Ridge Community Association and used by other community organizations, such as a snowmobile club, gun club and Scout troops. The historical society plans to allow organizations to continue using it in its refurbished and safer state.

“We want to keep that going,” said Karlene Osborne, a historical society board member. “We want it open to the public.”

The historical society also intends to use the old schoolhouse for educational purposes by showing students what it was like to go to school in Scarborough 100 years ago.

So far, the society has refurbished the exterior of the building, including new siding, windows and a roof. However, the historical society’s goal isn’t just to ensure it looks the same as it did in the 1800s – it has gone to great lengths to use the same materials.

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“We put the same siding on that was originally there which we had to purchase from a mill in New Hampshire,” Osborne said, citing one example. “We’re trying to duplicate as much as we can.”

Ongoing renovations to the interior of the Beech Ridge School building. Contributed / Scarborough Historical Society

Work on the interior includes plumbing, some new walls for the bathroom and kitchen area, and a new entryway. They hope to complete work by the end of the year, thanks to the grant from the chamber, awarded last month at one of the chamber’s Concerts in the Park shows last month.

“It’s the 25th anniversary of the concert series and we thought a great way to help celebrate was to recognize 10 other gems in our community, the Scarborough Historical Society being one of them,” said Art Dillon, a member of the chamber’s board of directors.

Dillon described the historical society as “unsung volunteers that preserve our history.”

“It’s really important to recognize and record the history of events and places within our town,” he said.

Donations toward the restoration project can be made online at gofundme.com or by mailing a check to the historical society at P.O. Box 156, Scarborough, ME 04070-0156.

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