Rochester Academy // 1838

In the early 19th century, the schools in the town of Rochester, Massachusetts (and many other rural towns in New England), were under the control of a district system. This system divided the town into districts, with each district having its own schoolhouse and an elected committeeman. The committeeman selected the teacher to run his district school and was responsible for providing school equipment. Each district had to provide its school with a building that included a hall or closet, desks and benches on three sides with 10 square feet of open space in the center for recitations. The schools held two terms (winter and summer) and each term averaged a length of 3 months, much of the “off-time”, students would assist their families on farms. By 1859, Rochester had 11 districts, each with its own schoolhouse that stood throughout the town. Rochester Academy was built at the town center, and educated the “older” students in the town. The school later admitted younger students to ease congestion in the smaller rural schoolhouses. The Greek Revival building, constructed in 1838, presently serves as a community space for the town, but is in need of some maintenance!

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