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Andro. Historical Society assumes stewardship of West Auburn School

The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1843. (Photo by Richard Plourde)

An open house was held recently at the West Auburn School, Auburn’s last remaining one-room schoolhouse, which closed in 1950. The event celebrated the official transfer of the schoolhouse to the Androscoggin Historical Society. Virtually all residents of West Auburn received invitations to the event.

Speaking to those gathered, Steve Marsden, retiring President of the West Auburn School Historical Society (WASHS), noted that the Auburn City Council decided in 1992 to sell the school after having rented it out to various individuals, who had used it for storage over some 40 years. A small group, including residents of West Auburn and former students of the school, formed the WASHS organization and purchased the property from the city for one dollar.

Within a few short years, and through a variety of fund-raising efforts, the group was able to completely rehabilitate and refurnish the school as it would have appeared in the 1850s.

Each year, classes of students from area schools have come to the West Auburn School for a day of education in a one-room school, taught by schoolmarm and WASHS board member Donna Berry, herself a retired teacher.

Three years ago, according to Marsden, the WASHS board recognized that it was facing an uncertain ability to continue its stewardship of the schoolhouse due to an aging membership and no real prospects of younger replacements. They decided to approach the Androscoggin Historical Society to take ownership of the property to continue its use to the public for educational and community entertainment purposes. The merger was effected in June of this year.

Marsden then presented the schoolmarm’s bell to AHS President Curtis Jack, who thanked the many members and volunteers of WASHS for their years of devotion to the schoolhouse, pledging that AHS will endeavor to carry out the traditions started by WASHS.

Thanks were extended to AHS board members David Chittim and Penny Jessop for organizing the event and for securing donations of apples from Wallingford’s Orchards. Water came from Poland Spring. Several volunteers from AHS and WASHS donated freshly baked cookies.

Those interested in helping maintain the schoolhouse, rent the building for events, or have students experience rural education as it was practiced 170 years ago are encouraged to contact the Androscoggin Historical Society at 784-0586 or

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