By Linda Snow McLoon

Scarborough Historical Society members visiting the old Beech Ridge school.
Photo Courtesy Karlene Osborne.

Before there were big yellow school busses, school children in Scarborough for the most part walked to school. To keep the distances from their homes doable, back in the 1800s Scarborough had over a dozen one-room district schools spread throughout the town. A single teacher taught the elementary grades to each neighborhood’s school children.

All the district schools were torn down or repurposed over time – with one exception. Although vacant for decades and falling into disrepair, District No. 7’s Beech Ridge School, located at 184 Holmes Road, managed to survive over the years. In 2018 the Scarborough Historical Society stepped forward to save this important part of the town’s history. The society was deeded ownership so it could proceed to raise funds and oversee the restoration of the building.

Thanks to donations and grants for the project, much work has been accomplished. Phase I started with lifting the building so a new foundation could be poured. Later the rotted sills were replaced while adding a brick veneer to provide the appearance of the original foundation. After the interior was gutted, a basement stairwell and bulkhead were added. Phase II of the restoration work will include, among other things, putting in insulation, electricity, and plumbing. The roof will be shingled and new windows and doors installed. Lastly, historically accurate vertically-sawn exterior clapboards will be applied to the exterior of the building.

The Beech Ridge School’s scholars posed in 1915 with their teacher, Mabel Storey.
It appears that shoes were in short supply for children at that time.
Photo Courtesy Scarborough Historical Society Collections

Once the restoration work is completed, the building will be available to the community for multi-functional uses. As an educational component, period school artifacts and displays will help visitors learn what school was like in a one-room school in an earlier time.


John Hearn was a teacher at the Beech Ridge school in the 19th century.
Photo Courtesy Rodney Laughton Collection

Martha Pillsbury was the Beech Ridge school’s teacher in 1866.
Image from the Scarborough Historical Society Collections.

Scarboro; Aug/ 31st 1866…

Town of Scarboro:
     To M. A. Pilsbury for teaching in District No. 7 twelve weeks at four dollars 16/100  per week; Fifty-Dollars

Received Paym’t Martha A Pillsbury

The Scarborough Historical Society is appreciative of the funding it has received for the project from the Town of Scarborough and the Prouts Neck Historical Society, in addition to donations made by many other supporters.

We are well on our way to saving this precious remnant of our past, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We hope for additional donations toward the $150,000 currently needed to finish the job. Checks may be sent to the Scarborough Historical Society, P.O. Box 156, Scarborough, ME 04074, or donations made to The Scarborough Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, making all much-needed donations fully tax-deductible.

Interior Beech Ridge School
Photo by Karlene Osborne – c. Apr 2021

Beech Ridge School ready to be lowered onto new foundation (Apr 2020)

This article was first published in the Scarborough Leader and is republished here with the permission of the author.

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