Around the early 1800s, the thought process included more forward thinking towards educational goals. Education was entering a stage of reform. Even the attitude towards the actual physical environment of educational buildings was in reform. The ideals behind how these new schools should be constructed needed to be addressed. The replacement of the old schools to the “new style” schools was seen first in the urban areas and then fanned out to the towns.
The change in mindset towards education was essential to meet the needs and challenges of the Industrial Revolution. The new schools, especially in the smaller towns, appeared in the center village areas – Shrewsbury being one such town.
The 1830 brick schoolhouse is probably one of the earliest surviving examples of its type in the Worcester county area. Beyond the design and materials required, certain town individuals obtained permission to add a second story. The individuals had to supply the roof. The second floor was added and called the Central Hall. We learn through past records that these individuals became the Proprietors of the Central Hall. They were: Henry Snow, T. W. Ward, J.M. Miles, Nathan and Amase Howe, E. H. Hemenway, E. Sumner, Joel Nourse, J.C. Stone and J. G. Stone.
The building’s history starts with it as a schoolhouse; but, in time, it also hosted Civil War veteran’s (G.A.R.) events and meetings, a rich variety of lectures and exhibitions, it housed the Superintendent of Schools, the Shrewsbury Credit Union, and was used as a temporary police station during improvements to their existing facility.
In the late 1990s, the Shrewsbury Historical Society initiated the leasing of the school house, from the Town of Shrewsbury, for their headquarters. Thorough comprehensive presentations and financial reports were conducted by the members of the Society. The Society was, at this time, using the second floor for their meeting hall.
After extensive improvements and renovations to the existing building, it became the permanent home of the Shrewsbury Historical Society. With grant money, individual donations and much hard work, the Shrewsbury Historical Society converted the second floor of the school house into a museum to house the Society’s collection and the meeting room moved to the first level.
With continued exterior renovations to the building in 2007, the Shrewsbury Historical Society is proud to claim a building for its own use, a museum and gift shop. It continues to grow as does the Society’s aim to continue to maintain and offer their collections in the preservation of the history of the town of Shrewsbury.
More recently, the Shrewsbury Historical Society replaced the roof and windows and completed other improvement projects. Centrally located on Church Road near the Congregational Church and Town Common, the 1830 Brick School is part of Shrewsbury’s Historic District, which was established in 1972.
The 1830 Brick School and other locations in the Shrewsbury Historic District were officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior on October 8,1976.
The Old Brick School House (1830) by Robert J. Cormier
The First and Second Hundred Years by Alden Stone