History of Education in Keene, New Hampshire
The following data is extracted from Keene, Cheshire County, New Hampshire History.
Although Keene is divided into eleven school districts, No. i is the metropolitan, called Union district, and includes the schools of the city proper. The suburban districts partake largely of the characteristics of rural schools. The following table gives a fair idea of the citys buildings and school facilities :-
Pearl street 72 $ 525 00 1,$-3,500 00 $ 4,025 00 116
School street, old building. 41 400 00 2,000 00 2,400 00 112
School St., new building.. 141 125 00 3,111 00 3,236 00 98
Fuller school 5A 300 00 4,155 00 3,455 00 112
Washington street 40 150 00 2,000 00 I 2,150 00 105
Lincoln street 69 300 03 3,000 00 3,300 00 104
Main street 40 200 00 1,200 00 1,400 00 97
High school 104 6,100 00 50,000 00 56,100 00 379
Church street 46
Center street 71
Total 434 $8,100 00 $68,966 00 1$77,066 00 1240
Personal property 3,000 00
Total value of Dists prop. $80,066 00
The High-school building on Winter street, one of the finest buildings in the city, was completed in 1876. It is ninety-one feet long and sixty-one feet wide, and is flanked in front by a projecting tower twenty-one feet and eleven inches wide. From a foundation of solid granite it rises to a height of eighty feet, and reaches, with the tower, an altitude of 128 feet. The tower is ornamented with Gothic windows, and a massive stone portico, the arch of which is supported by four columns of beautiful Scotch granite. surmounted by foliated capitols in freestone. It is built of brick, with granite trimmings about the windows, and has belt courses of freestone extending entirely around between the stories. The roofs are covered with variegated slate. Prof. M. A. Bailey has been principal of the High-school since September, 1880.
Private School for Boys. - Somewhat more than seventeen years ago, the Rev. J. A. Leach and his wife began to take poor young men and gratuitously prepare them for college. This work they continued until very recently. Some twelve, years ago, without any kind of solicitation or advertising, Mr. Leach began to receive applications from many of the wealthiest and most conspicuous men in the country, who were desirous of placing their sons under his instruction, and to the present time his attention has been given to this class of pupils, sometimes to the number of fourteen, in addition to charity work, which has not been neglected. His pupils at present number eightall he desired or could accommodate. He is ably assisted- in this good work by Mrs. S. E. Leach.
The Keene Natural History Society.-This society began to collect in 1870, and organized in 1872. The leading object was to help in illustrating the studies of the High-school, and in-the beginning, all the cases were kept in the school-room. The first promoters were G. A. Wheelock, C. F. Rowell, G. H. Gilbert, S. H. Brackett, and F. S. Stratton. Mrs. Gilbert collected the botanical specimens. The unusual number of skeletons and bones of animals have enabled the teachers to interest classes in comparative physiology or osteology. This has proved a very successful study. The collection has the usual minerals, shells, birds, fossils, corals, &o. It is now kept in the hall of the High-school building.
Keene Public Library. - The public library of Keene dates its commencement in 1859. In that year a joint stock company was incorporated, under the name of the Keene Public Library, having the names of the following gentlemen as incorporators: William P. Wheeler, Farnum F. Lane, Leonard Bisco, George B. Twitchell, John Henry Elliot, William S. Briggs, George Cook, D. H. Sawyer, Edwin A. Webb, Gilman Joslin, and William Henry Thayer. Many other prominent men of the town became shareholders, and subscribers availed themselves of the privileges of the library in sufficient numbers to make it a pronounced success. Foreseeing that its usefulness might be greatly increased by making it free to the public, steps were taken, in 1875, to make over the property of the association to the city of Keene. This was done under these conditions The city shall keep the library in suitable apartments, and in good condition for use by the inhabitants of the city, under suitable regulations, and for the first five years expend a sum not less than $300.00 per annum, and there afterwards a sum not less than $500.00 per antinum, for the purchase and repair of books for the library; such sums to be raised and expended as above, until such time as the library shall have an income of not less than $r,000.00 per annum derived from other sources. By this transaction z,500 books were transferred to the city. A room was hired in the second story of Colonys block, from whence it was removed to Warrens block, Washington street. A librarian was elected by the city council, and six trustees.three gentlemen and three ladies.were elected to take charge of the library. In 1881 the library, having outgrown its quarters, it was removed to the new room in the City Hall building, ground floor. The books were classified, a card catalogue made, new cases furnished, and a reference and readinG.room added to the facilities already enjoyed by the public. Here the encyclopedias, dictionaries, patent office reports, atlases, gazetteers and many others can be taken down and consulted. In 1883 the library subscribed for a few of the popular magazines for the readinG.room. The number of volumes in the library in 1884, was 5,500. There were issued during the year, 21,358 volumes. Already the need of larger accommodations for the readinG.room are beginning to be felt, and the management hope to have, sometime, through the munificence of Keenes public spirited citizens, a suitable, commodious library building, in which the library will have room to grow and become an institution of which all may be proud.
The erection of Keene to a county seat, in 1771, and the history of the county buildings, has been given on page 41; the history of the railroads on page 56; its newspaper history on page 58; and a sketch of its churches will be found on a subsequent page.
Source: Keene, Cheshire County, New Hampshire History