About the North School Society
The North School Society was founded in 1967 to save the School House. Membership is open to the public and the annual dues are used to maintain the building and grounds. Every month (excluding January, July and August), the Society hosts a potluck dinner gathering at the School House. You do not need to be a member to join us at the potluck dinners — all are welcome to attend. Potluck dinners are free to attend, but we do request that you bring a dish to share that is in line with the theme of the event. Please check the events calendar for more information.
The mission of the Society is to preserve and protect the Hadlyme North School building, to maintain a record of its history as a one‑room schoolhouse and to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the role these initial schools played in rural communities.
History of the School House
The history of the North School, in Hadlyme, Connecticut, starts with that of the Hadlyme Ecclesiastic Society, which was organized in 1742. The Hadlyme Ecclesiastic Society raised a meeting house in 1743 and voted to have a school. In 1754 it voted to build a schoolhouse, but this vote was soon rescinded. In the latter part of 1794 the present North School was built, a typical wood-framed gable-roofed building with clapboard siding, a one room schoolhouse, providing for grades one through eight. There is no vote recorded to build the school or to lay a tax for the same. Such was not unusual in that time as in many small agricultural communities the school was a result of voluntary contributions of land, labor, and lumber.
It is the school and the neighboring church that establish the Hadlyme North Historic District’s distinctly rural village character. These two buildings are classics of their types, sparse, functional, wood-frame structures which convey the essence of New England’s early institutional architecture prior to 1850. Though they were the norm for educating town children for more than 100 years, one-room schoolhouses, especially those that remain intact and on their original site, are now fairly rare.
The Connecticut legislature, by a number of acts enacted from 1795 to 1798, constituted that School Societies take over from the Ecclesiastic Societies. There was no immediate compliance with the acts,and it is not certain as to when the control of the Hadlyme North School passed over to the School Society.
Public schools continued under the management of several School Societies until 1856 when the general assembly passed an act transferring control of the school and school records over to the towns, the same year in which the tragic loss of records in the fire was suffered.
Between 1795 in 1865 the North School underwent extensive changes and repairs even to the frame and planking. Originally there was one long desk around the room against the wall, planking sawed from a white wood log. In front of this was a bench on which the pupils sat.
There was once a large stone chimney and fireplace apparently toward the front of the room. The fireplace could not always adequately heat the room and an open stove and later a box stove replaced the fireplace. The large stone chimney was torn down and the new one built in the back of the room. Among other changes that took place are new windows and a blackboard. In 1865 a school bell was secured and added.
According to a report made by the superintendent of common schools in 1846 the following books were used in the North school.
– Spelling: Webster
– Reading: Testament, Natural Preceptor, Readers Manual Saunders Third Reader, Easy Lessons
– Grammar: Smith’s Grammar
– Geography: Olney’s, Mitchell’s, Smith’s
– Arithmetic: Daboll’s
In the fall of 1929 the North School was closed due to the consolidation of schools in East Haddam. In 1968 it was scheduled to be sold, moved away, or destroyed.
In answer to this plan on September 14, 1967, 12 people met and created the North School Society to “keep, maintain, and make the School House building available for public use”.
The North School building is owned by the Congregational Church. The land that the School House was constructed on is owned by the town. It was arranged that the town of East Haddam would lease the land where the schoolhouse resides to the Congregational Church for 10 years, with two 10 year renewals , or as long as the North School Society stays in being.
Currently the School House is maintained by The North School Society in cooperation with the Congregational Church.