Schoolhouse No. 5

Schoolhouse No. 5 1842

1842 - Schoolhouse No. 5 – 12 Agamenticus Road

This house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1842 by James Clark, Schoolhouse No. 5 was designed by a building committee that included Portland Street neighbors (and parents) Benjamin Nason and Francis Raynes.                                                                                              Map excerpt, c. 1856

When first built, the structure had two entrance doors for the boys and girls.  It later became a private home.



A 1789 deed transferring land from John Woodsum to the Baptist Church and Society reads:  “(the lot is) . . . bounded on the westerly  part by Libby’s Road [so-called] at a place within three feet of the southeasterly Corner of the School house now standing on a place commonly called the Yoking           place . . . .”  In 1789, Agamenticus Road was a dirt track leading to the Libby house, near Woodlawn Cemetery, and was called Libby’s Road. 

In the early 1700s, logs were being hauled to Quamphegan from upper Berwick and Lebanon. Blackberry Hill Road was a “mast way” that joined “the way to Wells” (later Route 4).  Yoking places were needed to harness and unharness teams of oxen, preparing them for dragging logs to local sawmills. If they were to be sold as masts, they were hauled to the Salmon Falls River and floated to Portsmouth. 

By 1789, the yoking place had become the site of a one-room school.  A Baptist meeting house would soon be built nearby. In 1846, the old school was replaced with a sturdier one.   The Baptist meeting house was torn down in the later 1800s, and replaced by the Soldiers' Monument, but the little yellow “school house,” though modified, remains today.   

Below is the transcript of the 1842 builder's contract for Schoolhouse No. 5, taken from a photo found on the internet:

Acting for Agreement made & concluded this Eleventh day of August A. D. 1842 by & between the Inhabitants of School District Number Five in South Berwick and James Clark of Said South Berwick. –

The said Clark doth covenant and agree with the said School District, that he will find all the materials and build upon the site of the present School House in said District, a new School house which is to be of the dimensions, form, and quality & size of Timber specified in a plan drawn by Capt. William Morton, excepting that instead of three sticks of Nineteen feet in length 7 by 8 there shall be six sticks of that size and length: And the said Clark agrees that he will underpin said building with good split stone not less than Fifteen inches in depth, butted & edged; that he will board the same, excepting the Roof, with good merchantable pine boards, all to be matched; that he will cover the roof with good hemlock boards; that he will clapboard & shingle the Same with good clapboards & shingles, free from Sap & Knots.: That he will make two entries in the front of Said building, and a wood room between the same, ____ed to the top with plank; the outside doors to be Six panels & one & three quarter inches thick.: the inside doors to be Six panels & one & one quarter inches thick, with Griffin’s latches of suitable sizes on each: and also upon one of the outside doors two sufficient bolts, & on the other a good lock; that he will finish the inside in the same manner & style as in the M__ Department of the South Berwick Academy, with Fifty Six seats & desks, to be of the same height, width and depth as the same ones in the Academy, unless the Committee herein – after named shall elect a different size? before the same ___ get out: the Desks to be framed into the sills and to be secured from splitting in the covers by two __tes in which there shall be at least two screws & two Nails, the Same as in the Academy.: the lead to be ceiled to the same height (?) the Desks as in the Academy.: the floor to rise Ten inches; Windows in the same of Fifteen lights each with 8 by 10 ____ glafs, and in the sash ends two of twelve lights 8 x 10 _____ glafs; that he will make a Teacher’s Desk in the form of the same size and style as that in the brick school house in District No. 4; that he will put up in the entries strips of board with hooks for the accommodation of children in hanging clothes; that he will make a chimney from the chamber floor as though fitted to receive a stove funnel & lock (?) secured against fire; and that he will lath & plaster _____ of said ____ & entries,: that he will putt on the Windows blinds ____ of ____ & painted a good green colour.: that he will paint the inside of said house with two good coats of paint lead colour, and the outside with two good coats of paint the colour of that upon Mr. Isaac P. Yeaton’s dwelling house; that he will place at the Doors good & sufficient stone steps, and fuyrther that he will finish said house with Pediment ____ and in the general style of finish, inside, of the ____ Department in the Academy aforesaid of good materials, and in a thorough & workmanlike manner, and to all things which may be necefsary to fit the ____ for use as a school house whether herein mentioned or not and have the same completed by the first day of November next ensueing; and more particularly that he will lay a floor of square edged boards in the garret, and lay the floor of the school room with ____ pine boards, and make proper windows over the outside Door__? And not lay out any Shingles more than five inches, -- and the said Clark ___ ____ forfeit as damages ___ Dollar for each day after said first day of November, that said Building remains unfinished, to be deducted from the ___ agreed to be paid him, and the said School District agree to forfeit ___ Dollar for each day after the Third day of November that the said ____ shall remain unpaid in case said House is finished by said First day of November.

And the said School District on their part agree that they will remove in due season the old school house and permit the said Clark to ___ in the underpinning so many be completely finished and delivered to them they will pay him the same for Three Hundred & Fifty Dollars. In testimony whereof the said James Clark ____ hereunto bind themselves by their building Committee Benjamin Nason, William A. Young, & Francis Raynes (chosen at a meeting of said District ___ June 18th A. D. 1842__) the day and year first above written.

            James Clark
            Benj Nason
            William A. Young Building
            Francis Raynes Committee
            (notes & figuring)

            Ebenezer Clark Extra work

            To 2 _____ and Extra Bricks 8.00
            To Difference on ___ Entry & Stairs 9.00
            To Difference in Piazza 5.00
            To Difference in Calpboard on Hous 4.00

(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from the archives of the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)