School House #5

Sullivan School # 5
This is the only known photograph of School House #5 probably taken by Carleton Nims shortly before the building was removed in the mid-1920s.

School District #5 was located in the northwest corner of Sullivan. Its eastern border was the Masonian Patent Line, the southern border ran from the patent line due west intersecting the Gilsum Road at roughly #188, and the rest of the boundary was the town line between Gilsum and Sullivan. The original settlement in the district was along Gilsum Road and the Boynton Road.

When the town authorized the construction of schools in 1792, District 5 built their school opposite the farm of Joshua Burdett on the Boynton Road. This was logical since the school had been conducted previously in Burdett’s barn. The choice, however, was poor for two reasons. The first is that Burdett’s farm is on the highest point of the road so students had to walk up hill no matter where they lived. The second reason is that by 1800 the population had begun to shift from the Boynton Hill area to what is now Gilsum Road. In 1802, the decision was made to move the school closer to Gilsum Road by building a new school opposite the Winchester Farm on the Chapman Road. The old school was sold to a farmer from Gilsum who removed it.

The new school served the district until 1821 when a new building was constructed at the corner of the Gilsum Road and the Chapman Road. The old building was used for storage until it could no longer stand. The new building was kept in good repair with major renovations being done in 1852, 1853, 1869, 1870, and 1877. The district usually offered at least two sessions totaling 20 weeks.

The district, however, continued to lose population as the older farms disappeared. In 1883, the school was closed for lack of enough students to justify hiring a teacher. In 1885, the district was abolished when the State Legislature passed a law requiring schools to be administered by one school board per town. In 1895, the school board decided to reopen the school. Class size grew to 10 or 12 students per session, but then the population declined again. In 1909-1910, teacher Eliza Beliveau had only 7 students—3 from the Bates family, 3 from the Wheeler family and a girl named Grace Nadeau. Since these people all lived on what is now the Corey Mine Road, it was decided to tuition them to Gilsum and to close the school. The arrangement with Gilsum lasted until 1917. After that, the children of District #5 attended school at the #2 school house in the Center.

The school house was never used again after 1910. At some point in the early to mid-1920s, the building was purchased by Arthur Johnson who took it down and used the timbers and boards to build a garage at his farm on Cross Road. Johnson used most of the wood including the old black boards (complete with writing from their last lessons) which became part of the walls and ceiling. The farm was purchased in 1973 by Robert and Marjorie Smith. In 1979, they tore down the garage to make way for an addition to the house. Today, a small foundation marks the spot where School #5 stood. It is located at the entrance of the Allison Nims Piper Forest at the corner of Gilsum Road and Chapman Road.