TEXT BY JULIE SENK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SEACOAST REALTY SHOTS
From our Spring 2023 issue
For nearly two centuries, one-room schoolhouses, like Lebanon’s circa 1850 Upper Little River Schoolhouse, were as ubiquitous as white steepled churches on the Maine landscape. Typically spartan, but bright, with rows of large windows on their long walls, the buildings might have one door, or a pair for boys and girls, on the gabled front side. Towns were divided into several small school districts, ensuring that every student could come and go on foot. In 1852, the Maine Board of Education counted 3,766 schoolhouses, but the early 20th century saw a precipitous drop as public schools were consolidated and standardized.
After it closed, in the early 1950s, the Upper Little River Schoolhouse was remodeled as a residence. Recent owners have restored the original exterior, adding back two transom-topped doorways and windows that match the initial twelve-over-eight double-hungs, repaired the roof, and built a rear vestibule that’s ready to serve as a bath. The bucolic three-acre property remains unchanged, with stone walls running the length and a brook feeding into the schoolhouse’s namesake river flowing just steps from the front doors.
With a little sprucing up, including replacing the wood floors, the gutted interior would make a sweet seasonal workshop or studio. Intrepid renovators who are up for installing a ceiling, walls, insulation, plumbing, and heating have an opportunity to design their own open-concept residence. Before drawing up plans, be sure to have the foundation inspected.