Monday - Thursday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Facing south onto Sand Hill Road, the South District Schoolhouse is sited atop Sand Hi 11 on a long open lot surrounded by ni neteenth- and twentieth-century
The Schoolhouse originally displayed a central doorway flanked by two six-over-six windows. The exterior brick chimney and gable window were added when the building
was enlarged .
The western ell of this dwelling was erected in the early nineteenth century as the South District School House. The eastern ell and connecting passage were added in the early twentieth century when the building was modified for residential use. Oriented gable-to-street, the original block is 1 1/2 stories in height and utilizes a post-and-beam framing system supported by a sandstone foundation. Constructed to mirror the original portion, the eastern gable-to-street wing utilizes a balloon frame supported by a cement foundation, as does the ridge-to-street connecting ell. The entire building is sheathed with wooden shingles and the roof is asphalt shingled.
Durham’s school system was established in 1711 when the town voted to hire a school-master for six months “for the advantage of children in town, that they may be instructed to write and read.” The first schoolhouse in Durham was erected on the Green in 1722. By 1766 the town had established four school districts: Middle, North, South and West. In 1821 the number of school districts had grown-to five: North school, Quarry, Center, South and West side. Noah Robinson, the school collector in 1821 collected $299.53 to be divided among the districts. The Center District, being the largest, received $104.38 and the South school, being the second smallest district, only received $34.81. While an exact date for the South District School House cannot be determined, tradition asserts that it may have been standing as early as 1802. The first actual deed reference was made in 1857, when David Norton’s heirs and Charles Robinson each deeded a small lot of land with a “school house standing thereon” to the South School District.
When the Methodist Church was established in 1815, services were held in the South District School House until 1830, when the congregation grew so large it was relocated to the Academy on the Green. In Beer’s History of Durham, the number of school age children attending the South District in 1822 was 54, in 1825 the number was 48, in 1831, 43 children and in 1843, 50 children attended. By 1910, the South School District was the smallest of the five districts and was allotted $400 for expenditures. The 1910 school report recorded the South School District had one school with one room, thirty number of sittings, 36 weeks in a school year and had 180 days of school. The building was used as a school house until 1924 when it was converted into a residence.
The South District School House is an important link to the development of Durham’s educational system.