Old Schoolhouse Becomes Fire Department

Town Hall on East St.




Schoolhouse becomes Southampton Fire Department


(From Springfield Union Aug. 4, 1949)


Dorothy Howland

“Building on Main St., whose literary history began in 1863, is remodeled to house apparatus and the town ambulance; history of first school recalled’

The shiny red truck of the Southampton Fire Department is at last going to be housed in a permanent home, one worthy of it importan[ce] protecting home and property. The old No. 1 schoolhouse is once more going to be the scene of much activity when both the fire engine and the town ambulance will be installed in its newly remodeled interior.

Children and grandchildren of the pupils who attended the old brick schoohouse since 1900 will be on hand when the siren blows and the fire chief and his men drive out through the old maples.

History Began in 1863

This old schoolhouse located on Main St. at the foot of Cemetery Hill began its literary history in 1863. The record relates that on this place more land was purchased, the little brook in the rear was forced into different channels, the hill leveled, the dale filled and ‘on this new land the present brick structure arose.’ The local inhabitants cheerfully paid heavy taxes for it, and the community-minded citizens planted trees on the land

This schoolhouse was the third erected in the center. The first colonial schoolhouse was provided for in the 1718 vote of Northampton to have a school in the “new precinct,” and in 1758 Deacon Samuel Edwards was said to have been engaged for 40 winters to teach on the schoolhouse which stood on the public square in front of Judd’s Store, now the Red and White Store. This old schoolhouse had benches around the inside walls, a hug fireplace and dark closets where naughty children were incarcerated for punishment.

The colonial building was taken down about 1805 and half of it rode up Cemetery Hill to become part of the home now occupied by the Joseph Raymond Family.

The second center schoohouse was a two-story affair on the present schoohouse lot near the highway, with the lower floor used for the small children and the upper story a hall for by the town. This was later taken down and part of it used in the John Poler residence on High Street.

Bought Ammunition

in 1751 the committee appointed to build that first schoohouse could open it only during February and March since the school money was used for ammunition! In 1867 there seven schools in town with a winter attendance of 217, and the average wages of female teachers was $23.08 per month! Doubtless the teacher was also ‘found’. Miss Anna Bates was the first female teacher in Southampton in the summer of 1785. Two men were given charge of the schoolhouse in its early days and when the building was used for warming on the Sunday they were to keep order or ‘lock up the schoolhouse.’

It was in 1928 that No. 1 saw the last of its school days. At that period the final step in the consolidation of the seven district schools in town was taken, and all pupils transported to the old Sheldon Academy, Since then the American Legion has held some meetings there, but for the most part it has been empty and neglected.

Authority to convert the schoolhouse into a fire station was given by a vote taken at the Oct. 27, 1948 town meeting. In the annual meeting of February, 1948, $700 was appropriated to assist in remodeling the building into a fire station. The Fire Department budget and card parties arranged by the firemen have helped pay the expense account amounted to about $1800.

14 Men in Department

The Volunteer Fire Department has 14 men. C. Osborne Childs is the chief and the two deputies are Charles Kaleta and George Gorton. The Firemen’s Association includes i[n] its officers George Gorton, president; Harold Sheldon, Vice-president; Richard Vollert, treasurer and Herman Andrews, secretary. The town budget for the department this year included $1500 for equipment, $1000 for wages, gas and maintenance of truck. $500 for forest fire fighting, $300 for the ambulance fund.

The men of the department and some volunteers have been working hard since last fall on the conversion of [the] schoolhouse into a fire station. This spring they spent Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturdays in an effort the complete this work. Two big overhead sliding doors have been installed, new windows are being painted, and the finishing touches added and the station will be open for public inspection Saturday at Old Home Day.

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