Hampton Academy & Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association
65th Anniversary, Historic Souvenir Booklet, 1972

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By Arthur J. Moody, Class of ’53


The Academy Building Is Moved

As early as November 1868, Trustee records make reference to moving the Academy from the Green to a more central location in Hampton. At that time a communication was received from the town of Hampton in relation to the removal of the Academy building to the new road.” (High Street was known as “the new road” for nearly 50 years before the beginning of the 20th century.) A committee of two Trustees was appointed to receive further communications from the Town. In November 1871, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees was constituted a special committee “to see what measures can he taken to move the Academy to the new road.”

At a special town meeting held in Hampton on June 1, 1872, it was voted to establish a high school and a committee was chosen to confer with the Trustees in regard to moving the Academy and using it for a high school. Two weeks later the Trustees agreed to having the building moved and having it fitted up for a high school, provided no expense to the Trustees was incurred. The Trustees also agreed that the Town could hire the teachers (the Trustees retaining a veto), could set admission requirements, could share with them the prescribing of the curricula, and could participate in the joint general management of the school.

Two weeks later, on July 3, 1872, an Act of the Legislature was approved which authorized “the town of Hampton to contract with the Trustees of Hampton Academy in relation to the maintenance of a High School” and the Selectmen to “lawfully appropriate from the school money raised in said town not exceeding twenty per cent thereof for the Education of High School scholars and the balance necessary to fulfil their contract with said Trustees shall be paid from the treasury of the town.” The Act was signed by Asa Fowler, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Charles C. Campbell, President of the Senate; and E.A. Straw, Governor.

A lot of land was purchased but, according to Historian Dow, “opposition of certain individuals of influence” frustrated the plan and the lot reverted to its previous owner. The Academy continued as before. In 1876 — with no hope of Town funds to repair the school — the Trustees worked toward putting “the Academy building in repair as far and as fast as practicable.”

The Academy did not open in 1880. In December of that year, the Trustees chose a special committee “to take into consideration the propriety of moving the Academy building up nearer the Depot or some eligible location, to learn the cost of moving, the price of land and report at a future meeting.” Three months later the Trustees approved the committee’s report, which recommended moving the building, and chose a new committee to buy the land, move the Academy and get it repaired for use. In October 1881, the Board voted to buy an acre of land from Christopher C. Toppan (who had been elected a Trustee two years before). The lot was located between what is now High Street (N.H. Rte. 101-C) and Winnacunnet Road (N.H. Rte. 101-E). north of the Congregational Church (the Sixth Meeting House of the Society, which is still in use as such). The Board also voted to rent the school hall (upper story) after the move to Rockingham Lodge 22 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at $60 per year.

Mr. “Toppan donated the acre of land (the transfer not being legalized until 1907), and in December of 1882, the Academy “was mounted on ponderous shoes” preparatory to the physical move. Large chains were procured from the Portsmouth Navy Yard and on January 22. 1883, according to a news story: “at 12 o’clock M. (meridies – Latin for “noon”) eighty pair of oxen and ten pair of large team horses were hitched to the cables that were to draw the building across Ring swamp to its new home near the town house (Town Hall).” And in 17 minutes — at a cost of $375 for all arrangements — the Academy was transferred over the snow on tree-skids 500 or so yards to the north. According to the Trustees’ book: “many people were present” despite the “extremely cold and windy” weather conditions. The Academy and Town Hall bells were rung and “the people rejoiced at the success of the enterprise.” Refreshments were served at the Town Hall.

The Academy was now in a new location facing west toward the center of the Town. Repairs to the school progressed and a Principal was engaged for the Fall Term beginning in early September 1883. After a three-year hiatus, the school would once again be used for “instructing scholars.” The Trustees voted to borrow approximately $800 and the Toppan Fund was pledged as security lot, the loan with the note being signed by the Trustees who resided in Hampton. The money was to refit the schoolroom and place “a covering” on the east end of the building. The Odd Fellows’ Hall was furnished and dedicated (by the turn of the century, the Lodge would construct its own building — the block which presently also holds the Town Clock). A road was laid out in front of the Academy joining Winnacunnet Road with High Street. There is no record of “damages” being awarded Mr. Toppan for the land used for the road but in 1883 the Town paid him $25.20 “for labor and gravel on new road” as well as $5 each for labor to Horace M. Lane and W. M. Batchelder. (Warren M. Batchelder would later become a Trustee.) Also, John W. Towle was paid $11.50 for “procuring material and labor on new road.” Quite possibly, these entries in the Town records referred to the road by the Academy. The four expenditures were listed together and did not pertain to “the new road” (later, High Street). Town maps since 1892 have shown this road which, of course, would become Academy Avenue. (Joseph Dow referred to it as “the ‘Academy road’ ” — indicating that it was unofficially known by that name.)

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