The Holt District School: An Article by our Town Historian

Date: December 4, 2019

The Holt District School

By Judy Giguere,

Plymouth Town Historian

 

Andrew Buell went to school in New Britain at the Normal School. For transportation, he rode his horse each day. When his father died in 1868, Andrew bought out the other heirs to the family home and land. He married Lorena Schofield in 1874 but Lorena died shortly thereafter leaving Andrew with a small son.In 1878, he married Jennie Merriman who had been a good friend of Lorena’s. At this time, in conjunction with his mother, sister and neighbors, he began farming.

 

Plans had been formulating to build a school house in the Holt District which encompassed the present day North Harwinton Avenue area.  In 1880, Fowler Fenn and Lyman Baldwin were sent by community officials to investigate conditions at the North Street District School House which was located near the intersection of North Street and Sawmill Road. Was the school too far for students to travel? Was the school building suitable? In need of repair? Of sufficient size for the growing community? Should the district be combined into one school house instead of two? It was decided to begin preparations for construction of a new school house once a location was confirmed. Andrew Buell was contracted to cut logs for what would become the Holt District School House. The logs were drawn by oxen for cutting into boards at the sawmill on Minor’s Farm. In Spring, stone was gathered to be used for the foundation. Granite rocks weretaken from the woods east of the farms formerly owned by the Nelsons and Curtis families. 

 

In November 1880, the final site was approved. Actual construction of the school building began in January 1881. Andrew Buell and Fowler Fenn completed the ditch for thefoundation. The location was just north of the farm owned by Hilo Holt, hence the name: Holt District. Mr. Buell taught a class of twenty students in the old North Street school house. The school year ended late in March as students were needed to help with farm work. Mr. Buell was paid $106.13 for the school year, the payment included supplying wood for the school house’s wood burning stove. 

The school was completed and approved in June 6, 1881. The old building was sold to Hilo Holt for $14.50. October 1898 School Districts 12 and 13 were combined into one district to be served by the Holt School or North School as the new school was known. It was the last one room schoolhouse in Connecticut. It was closed by the State of Connecticut in 1957. 

The Holt District School had a pitched roof, round attic windows, wood stove and two outhouses. The large boulder next to the school remained for the children’s amusement. After the school closed it was home to the High Riders Snowmobile Club and later sold. Eventually it became a private home with major changes but in its heart, it is still the old schoolhouse of Holt District.

 

Notes courtesy of Terryville Public Library Plymouth History Research Room.

Excerpt from the Diary of Mrs. Andrew Buell