The following article appeared in local newspapers in January, 2002.
Being one of the smallest towns in the Monadnock Region (population: 375+-) is not Sharon’s only claim to fame. The town’s one-room Brick Schoolhouse, in constant use since it was built in 1832, was recently awarded listing on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. The State Register was established approximately a year ago and the Sharon Brick Schoolhouse is currently one of only six places on the statewide list.
“The Brick Schoolhouse in Sharon is a perfect example of the type of property we are hoping to list on the new State Register of Historic Places,” says Elizabeth Muzzey, State Survey Coordinator for the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. “It has been used and appreciated for almost 170 years and that obviously means a great deal to the town’s residents. Sharon is fortunate to have such a well-preserved and intact historical resource.”
Today , the Brick Schoolhouse is used regularly for weekly town clerk’s hours and as a meeting place for the Sharon Selectmen, Planning Board and Conservation Commission. The structure has served various public town functions including that of town meeting hall, polling booth and repository of town records. It marks the de facto center of Sharon and historians have, in fact, referred to this section of town as “Sharon City.”
Still in its original location, the one-story brick building measures just 26 x 30 feet. As was typical of other small schoolhouses of the time, the school was sited on a small knoll with its door in the gable end and was situated to overlook what was, even in the 1830s, the main road in Sharon (currently Route 123). It was used as a public school for nearly nine decades, from 1833 to 1920. During that time, the student population fluctuated from a high of around 40 students to a low of around 10 students. Intermittently in the 1800s, the Schoolhouse was also used for Baptist and Congregational church services.
In 1920, the population of Sharon fell to below 50 and the townspeople decided to send their children to Peterborough for public education because it was too costly to educate the dwindling number of students in town.
The exterior appearance of the Brick Schoolhouse has changed little in the nearly 170 years since it was built. Minor alterations to update its systems (heat and electricity) and to add other modern conveniences (larger windows, a flag pole) have not changed the original design of the building. Externally, the brickwork is in good condition and internally, the original pine floors and wide-pine wainscoting remain along with five rows of pine and wrought-iron desks with chairs.
Other one-room brick schoolhouses in the area are located in Peterborough, New Ipswich, and Hancock.
The New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places application was completed by Sharon resident and writer Tina Rapp, who volunteered her time. She was assisted by members of the Sharon Conservation Commission. Extensive research for the application was accomplished by ConVal High School student Taylor Shipman of Hancock, who earned ½ credit for completion of the work as a Civic Action Project during the spring 2001 semester. Currently a senior with a special interest in history, Shipman enjoyed the process of working hands-on with primary source material to learn more about the history of the schoolhouse and the town. “Much of world history is reflected in local history,” says Shipman. “And this was a really worthwhile project that supplemented my work in the classroom.”
Members of the Sharon Conservation Commission are hopeful that the Brick Schoolhouse will qualify for the National Register of Historic Places, and an application is in process.
[End of Article]
For Immediate Release
March 3, 2003
Sharon Brick Schoolhouse Joins Three Other Monadnock Region Schoolhouses on the National Historic Register
Sharon’s one-room Brick Schoolhouse is keeping good company. It was recently awarded a listing on the National Register of Historic places, joining three other listed schoolhouses in the Monadnock Region. Those schools include the High Tops School in Westmoreland, the Nelson Schoolhouse, and the Richmond Schoolhouse No.6.
The schoolhouse received its award for being associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, which is on one of four possible criteria for National Register listings. It is well-preserved and has changed little over the years. Of the three one-room schools that served the town of Sharon, it is the only one still in existence.
The building has been in constant use since it was constructed in 1832. “There’s a lot of history in our schoolhouse,” said Chet Bowles, Sharon Selectmen Chair. “It’s seen its share of school children, voters, town meetings and town government activities, and it will continue to serve our town’s needs in the future.”
The Town of Sharon recently developed a task force to research improvements to the building, including handicapped access, expanded office space and plumbing. The plan will be presented to voters at the 2004 Town Meeting. According to Christine Fonda, National Register Coordinator for the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, the listing does not impose any restrictions or limitations on the use of this property unless federal funds are involved.
Known through the years by several names including the East School, the Center School, the District Two Schoolhouse and even the School of the Middle Class, this was the only one-room schoolhouse in Sharon, NH made of brick. Because two previous wood frame and clapboard schoolhouses had been erected in District Two and destroyed by fire, in 1799 and 1832 respectively, the town chose to construct this particular schoolhouse out of brick for its permanence.
A new site was selected for the Brick Schoolhouse on the other side of Street Road (known today as Route 123) from where the two previous District Two schoolhouses had stood, and was constructed at a total expenditure of $300.
The Brick Schoolhouse was in use as a public school for nearly nine decades, from 1833 to 1920. During that time, the student population fluctuated from a high of around 40 students to a low of around 10 students. Of the three one-room schoolhouses in Sharon, NH, the Brick Schoolhouse appears to have had the largest student population through the years, holding both a winter session that lasted about 10 weeks and a summer session that lasted about 12 weeks. As was common for the time, a lone teacher was responsible for instructing up to 40 students from first through eighth grade.
Since Sharon schoolchildren began attending Peterborough schools in the 1920s, the schoolhouse has served various public town functions including that of town meeting hall, polling booth and repository of town records. Today, the Brick Schoolhouse is used regularly for weekly town clerk’s hours and as a meeting place for the Sharon Selectmen, Planning Board and Conservation Commission. Other one-room brick schoolhouses in the area are located in Peterborough, New Ipswich, and Hancock.
The National Register of Historic Places application was completed by Sharon residents Liz LaRose, Tina Rapp, Gina Goff, and Rory Goff and Con-Val student Taylor Shipman, who all donated their time.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1890, the townspeople of Sharon foregathered in Hadley’s Grove – a lovely stand of old pine trees on Route 123, next to what is now The Sharon Arts Center – for the 6th “Reunion of Sharon Residents”.
At that picnic, Samuel Willard Bass generously offered to put up $75 to enable the town to buy the grove. The Rev. Burr, of Boston, donated a further $25 for fencing, and in 1891 the land was purchased and dedicated as Willard Bass Park.
It is in this park, ever since, that the citizens of Sharon gather in August for the Annual Town Picnic. Indeed, the original conveyance of the property from the widow Hannah Hadley contained a “Picnic or Die” clause, stipulating that unless the property was used for a public picnic at least once every three years, ownership would revert to the grantors or their heirs (which rights of reverter, through the good offices of Richard M. Nichols, have since been conveyed to The Sharon Arts Center).
Willard Bass Park is owned and managed by The Trustees, not the town of Sharon. The list of past trustees contains many familiar Sharon names, such as Taggart, Perry, Newton and, of course, Nichols (including, from 1897 forward, Herbert, Maurice, Thomas, Richard, and Andrew).
The current Trustees of Willard Bass Park are: Gina Goff, Anne Booth, Mary Ellen Bushnell, Ken Callahan, and Hampton Howard.
The Town is in the process of surveying our cemeteries. The information below is some of what we have learned about the cemetery on Jarmany Hill Road.
South Burying ground, Jarmany Hill, Sharon, NH.
People buried: 165. Ten stones record more than one person. One has five.
Children (under 20): 40
Many of those buried were in their 20s and 30s
Oldest grave: Josiah Robbins, died May 20, 1795
Most recent: Edith Wilson, died January 19, 1982
The Wilson family appears to have the most descendants buried in the graveyard.
Four people are identified as military veterans. Two identified as doctors.
All stones are slate or rough marble, except one (polished granite) that appears to be a replacement for an older grave stone.
All heads are situated toward the west, traditionally for Christians to rise at the resurrection facing eastward toward Jerusalem and the Risen Christ.
Perhaps twenty-five to thirty unmarked field stones are placed throughout the graveyard in positions that could mark graves or be reserved for future graves. One whole corner of the graveyard is apparently empty of graves, though some depressions in the ground are visible. A large forsythia on the north side near the stone wall is the only planting. Otherwise, wild blueberries carpet much of the ground. Small trees are encroaching from the woodlands beyond the wall.
Ages are often given with the symbol AE or AEt. This is an abbreviation of the Latin word aetatis, meaning life or age in specific years.
This biography from the archives of AskART.com.
The following biography is contributed by Scott Plimpton, great, great nephew of the artist.
Charles Franklin Pierce was born on April 26th, 1844 in Sharon, New Hampshire to John A. and Phila W. Pierce. He was the third of six children who were raised in the nearby rural community of Peterborough. His early years were spent working on the family farm where the pastoral environment and a multitude of livestock made a deep impression on the future artist. Many of the works of art he would create later on in his life would stem from his familiarity with the farming way of life in the mid 1800s. Cows were one of his favorite subjects.
In the early 1860s his creative energies started to emerge and the drudgery of farm work was certainly no outlet for them, so in 1864 he decided to move to Boston to attend art school. Over the next few years he developed his skills at school and in the latter 1860s took his sketchbooks and went to England, Scotland and Wales to sketch the countryside there. This was his first of two prolonged stays in Europe during his lifetime and he honed his craft through his acute attention to detail.
The Early 1870s found Pierce back in Boston where he was a leader in the Boston Art Club and as the country celebrated the centennial of its founding, Pierce married his first wife Luena Wilder of Peterborough who was also an artist of note. They both returned to Europe in the late 1870s and sketched and painted and toured for over a year. They continued to paint both European and New England scenes in a Boston studio and at an estate in Peterborough and after 30 years of marriage Luena died in 1906.
Pierce continued to paint and draw and in 1912, he married Sarah Katherine Plimpton of Massachusetts. They lived on his estate in Peterborough and in Brookline Massachusetts where he died in 1920 on March 5th. In his studio upon his death were found numerous unfinished canvases, which attest to his liveliness right up to his final breath at the age of 67.