Francis Raynes, shoemaker; Olive Raynes (b. 1833), teacher

Raynes House and Miss Raynes School c. 1810

c. 1810 - Raynes House and Miss Raynes’ School – 96 Portland Street

This house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. In the mid-1800s, most of this side of Portland Street was open farmland, owned by the Raynes family living in this house. Francis Raynes made and sold shoes in a business on a later site of a gas station near the corner. Daughter Olive Raynes (b. 1833) taught school for over 60 years, first from her father’s shoe business and then, from 1861 into the 20th century, from the Raynes farmhouse. Among her pupils were author Sarah Orne Jewett and her sisters, as well as generations of children from South Berwick’s leading families. 

Portland Street, South Berwick, about 1860.

 From young Sarah Orne Jewett’s doorway at the her home, marked Dr. T. Jewett on the map at left, she often crossed Portland Street to play in the fields on Butler’s Hill, and discover a bubbling spring or a sentinel pine.  Most of the land where she played there belonged to Francis Raynes and his wife, Harriet Goodwin Raynes.

A purchase made by Francis Raynes at the Jewett family store

To children like young Sarah, her sisters and her friends, by far the most important member of the Raynes family was their daughter. Miss Olive Raynes, born July 6, 1833, was a Portland Street legend, as evidenced by newspaper articles written at the end of her life. She taught school in South Berwick for over 60 years—from the 1850s, when Sarah and her sisters were pupils, into the twentieth century.

Miss Raynes' school at Raynes HouseMiss Olive RaynesMiss Raynes briefly taught at other schools, likely at the Schoolhouse No. 5 farther down Portland Street, where in 1842 her father had been on the building committee, and at Berwick Academy. By the 1850s, however, she ran her own school, for the families of the elite.

Sarah Orne Jewett in schoolSarah Orne Jewett as a pupil of Miss Raynes

During Jewett’s childhood, Miss Raynes held classes upstairs in two buildings connected to the family shoe manufacturing business near the Corner. Among the classmates of Sarah and Mary Jewett were Mary Allan, Mittie Allan, Ephraim Allan, Albert Bailey, Eva Clark, Frank Colcord, John Colcord, Sarah Colby, George Colby, Fred Cromwell, Herman Grant, Maria Grant, Mattie Grant, Hattie Harriman, Henry Harriman, William Huntress, Frank Lord, Lizzie Neally (Nealley), Elizabeth Plaisted, George Plaisted, Charles N. Raynes, Kate Sanborn, Lizzie Sanborn, Carrie Sanborn, Edward P. Sanborn, Louise Sanborn, Mary Thompson, Lizzie Trafton, Nellie Whitehead, John Whitehead, Charles Whitehead, Rebecca Young, and Nellie Young.

In 1861, about the time that Jewett entered Berwick Academy as a teen, Miss Raynes moved her school into the building that is now 96 Portland Street.

Olive Raynes died on February 23, 1923 in Arlington, MA, (from Daniel Goodwin of Ancient Kittery, Maine and His Descendants by John Hayes Goodwin, 1985.)

(This summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives at the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)