Pigeon Hill School House added to most endangered locations

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OXFORD – The Oxford Historical Society has received a major boost in its quest to save Oxford’s last one-room schoolhouse from demolition.

Trees and brush surround the 1867 Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse, Oxford’s last one-room schoolhouse. The Oxford Historical Society proposes to move it to its headquarters in the village and restore it as a living history museum. Nicole Carter/Democrat Announcer

Maine Preservation placed the Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse, built in 1867 and located at the corner of Route 26 and Rabbit Valley Road, on its latest list of most endangered historic places, released September 29.

Inclusion on the list allows the historical society to apply for preservation grants to move the building from its current site, which is being sold, to the grounds of the Kay House Museum on Pleasant Street. There it will be restored and used as a living history exhibit for Oxford Primary School pupils as well as the public.

The school was donated to OHS by the Thurlow family in June, after placing the farmland on the property market earlier this year. Some family members had attended the school until it closed in 1940 and it remained a treasured relic, though it fell into neglect and disrepair over the years.

“I’m so excited,” OHS President Patricia Larrivee said after Maine Preservation’s announcement. “It’s hard to believe we’ve been able to do so much to save the school in such a short time.”

The first hurdle the historical society faced was getting approval from the Oxford Board of Selectmen to move Pigeon Hill School onto the property, which is owned by the city. Advisors expressed concerns about the poor condition and appearance of the school and the amount of work to make it safe and functional, but gave conditional support.

Furniture from Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse is part of the Oxford Historical Society’s collection of artifacts. The company plans to reunite the school with its content and create a living history exhibit on the grounds of the Kay House Museum. Nicole Carter / Democrat announcer

The historical society raised almost half of the $25,000 needed to move the four-mile building from Rabbit Valley Road to Pleasant Street. An anonymous donor pledged $10,000, and OHS held a craft sale in August to raise funds. Larrivee said they hope to complete the move before the end of the year, including removing stone from the school’s cellar and reusing it to build a new foundation on its new site behind the Kay House Museum .

Other structures at Maine Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places in Maine are the Eastport Sardine Factory, American Can Company; Fort George at Castine, a fortification built by Britain during the American Revolution; St. Louis Catholic Church in Auburn; and the Washburn Memorial Library, given to Livermore by Maine Governor Israel Washburn, Jr. in 1886.

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Raymond I. Langston