Dry Mills Schoolhouse Museum
The Dry Mills Schoolhouse is the last remaining of twelve one-room schoolhouses that were built in and around the town of Gray. This Maine school was built in 1857 and remained in operation as a school until 1958. The original structure remained sound for most of its life with some additions being added at the turn of the century. In the early 1990s, the building was relocated to the current location at the Maine Wildlife Park Road. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Backstory and Context
The Dry Mills school was built in 1857 and is a reflection of the Greek revival styling. The building is a very modest single story wood structure with a gabled roof and clapboard siding. The school is the last remaining structure of the twelve district school houses as the others were sold, torn down, or converted into homes. The building operated as a public school for over a hundred years and was briefly opened as a preschool prior to its relocation.
This one room schoolhouse may appear modest, however, it is significant to the history and culture of the rural community it served. By definition, it is a one room building where a single teacher taught the fundamental basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic to a wide range of ages. To the pupils who attended, it defines an iconic moment in time that's forever etched in their memories.
Throughout the years a wood shed was added to the structure and was later converted to an outhouse. In the early 1990s, $12,000 was invested to move the schoolhouse and its original granite slab foundation to Maine Wildlife Park. The schoolhouse has been restored to its original condition with the exception of the outhouse. The Dry Mills Board Committee opened the structure as a museum which operates on a donations only basis.
The museum is authentic to the era it represents where guest can reminisce of life in the 1800s. Visitors can view the original chalk board and wood stove. The collection also includes the original textbooks and photos of prior pupils. The old schoolhouse is frequently visited by schools to show children the history of how the school system has evolved. While the structures have changed, the core values of education and enrichment have not.
National Register of Historic Places. 12/13/1996. Accessed 8/01/2017. https://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/AssetDetail?assetID=0b64ee10-2656-4f5f-b1c1-e967504fdccd.
Mydland, Leidulf. "The legacy of one-room schoolhouses: A comparative study of the American Midwest and Norway." European Journal of American Studies, vol. 1, no. Spring 2011, 5-11. Published 6/01/2011. http://ejas.revues.org/9205.