Sandy Pond School celebrates 150 years

Historic schoolhouse renovated to serve community

The Sandy Pond School circa 1894
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AYER – Class may not be in session, but the classroom of the Sandy Pond School could still give local residents a history lesson soon.

The historic building located at 150 Sandy Pond Road celebrated its 150th birthday earlier this month.  First built in 1869, the single-room school building has gone through multiple uses over the years and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Thanks to the efforts of the Sandy Pond School Association, the building is closing in on officially re-opening its doors to the public in the next two years.

Irving Rockwood, president of the SPSA, said earlier this month that the association was first founded in 1908 by local volunteers looking to re-purpose the school as a community center. Rockwood has been a member of the association since 2014, the same year that the group began taking steps to raise money for renovations.

“What persuaded me to join was actually going to the building for the first time,” Rockwood said. “It was like taking a step back in time.”

To know what needed to be touched-up, the association hired the architectural firm Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt in 2017 to perform a conditions assessment of the school. The assessment brought up recommended improvements adding up to an estimated price tag of $250,000. With that, the association went to work.

Rockwood said that the school’s foundation has been improved, its masonry repaired, the classroom ceiling has been replaced and reinforced with brace supports. He added that $100,000 have been raised so far to cover the construction expenses, with the only work remaining being upgrading the building’s electrical system and some plumbing work.

“We’d like it used as a historic site or a community center, as it was for many years,” Rockwood said. “They had lectures and dinner dances and auctions and reunions. It was open for the community on a pretty regular basis and we want it to be used like that for cultural events.”

The association has hosted a few open house events for the schoolhouse in 2017, giving residents a taste of what the building could be. Rockwood said the celebration was meant to be the first time the public would get to see Sandy Pond with its substantial renovations completed. He added that the association is looking to plan more events at the schoolhouse next year, further emphasizing the importance the facility has to Ayer.

“It’s a community cultural resource with important information,” Rockwood said. “It has historical importance in Ayer. It’s a reminder of where we are now and where we came from. The fact that it was maintained for all of these years is important.”