GROWTH OF MARSTONS MILLS SCHOOLS

GROWTH OF MARSTONS MILLS SCHOOLS

 

In each generation of the twentieth century the number of Marstons Mills school children seems to have doubled. By the First World War the one-room schoolhouse built in 1851 had become too small for the growing number of children in the village. Town meeting of 1915 voted $5,250 to add a room and improve the school grounds. Hamlin & Fish, the principal builder of Cotuit, did the work for just under $5000, and local men like Bennett Cammett did the outside work.

 

Ted Pierce, who had studied for five years in the old building, explained that the old part was on the right (north), separated from the new room by a hallway with the entrance facing east onto the road. New seats were put in, and the potbellied stove replaced by a furnace. But the big improvement was indoor toilets at the west end of the hall, boys on the right, girls on the left.

 

In less than 20 years the 1915 schoolhouse was inadequate. Enrollment of 48 in 1915 nearly doubled to 93 in 1932. At first the increase came from closing the one-room Newtown and Plains schools, whose students were sent to West Barnstable, and the rest “barged” by bus to the village school. In the twenties crowding was reduced by busing fifth and sixth graders to Cotuit and Osterville.

 

In 1936 town meeting voted $2000 to buy 15 acres behind the church between Main Street and the new Route 28, and $25,000 to move and expand the old building. The town got federal depression help from the Emergency Relief Act. Samuel J. Moloney did the major building for about $15,000, but with cost overrun of $750. The 1851/1915 building was moved uphill to the new site in the summer of 1936. The number of rooms doubled to four, with an dining/assembly room and kitchen in the basement. Completion missed fall school opening, but formally opened 10 Nov. 1936.

 

Lacking a Parent-Teacher Association, the principal suggested setting up the Go-Getters Mother’s Club in 1950, with Mrs. John Walo the first president. Club fund-raisers made it possible to give the school a film projector, a TV and freezer, and money for field trips, books, records, and films.

 

Again, the number of students had doubled in less than 20 years. In 1957 the town paid $420,000 for a new six-room school for 200 students, with the first kindergarten, and a multi-purpose hall for cafeteria, assemblies and gym. The entrance was reversed from Route 28 to face Main Street. It opened on 16 Feb. 1959.

 

Fortunately for lovers of history, the old 1851/1916 schoolhouse was rescued by Bob Hayden, who moved it a quarter of a mile west on Route 28. First used as “Antiques of Tomorrow”, it is now the Lawrence Funeral Home. On the right hand side is the frame of the 1851 schoolhouse.

 

For a third time Marstons Mills outgrew its new school. In 1988 the town built a new elementary school on the Osterville-West Barnstable Road. It cost $6.9 million dollars, 30% paid by the state. With 25 classrooms, a cafeteria, gym and library it taught 470 students.

 

In 1994 the Barnstable Middle School was built south of the new elementary school ar a cost of $16,585,000. This served 780 students in grades six through eight for the whole town. In 2004 the town-funded but independently governed Horace Mann Charter School took over both buildings, with a combined enrollment of 1250.

 

In 1998 the town’s pupils peaked at 7000. The decline of over 15% in the next decade radically affected the use of the three schools in Marstons Mills. In 2010 the town closed the 1957 elementary school building off Main Street. Today it remains unused.

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