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Guilford, Maine

Where history meets the future

Guilford Schools

Like The Phoenix Rising Out Of The Ashes

By: Rex Webb, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher and 8th Grade Students
Piscataquis Community Middle School

Guilford Public School, June 20, 1887
Guilford Public School, June 20, 1887

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

The 8th grade students at Piscataquis Community Middle School felt that this was an appropriate title for their exhibit. Like the mythological creature the Phoenix, who rose out of the ashes, so did a few of the schools in Guilford history. In total there are three schools that suffered that fiery fate, and like the Phoenix they rose out of the ashes each time as a testimony to the resolve of the residents of Guilford.

$21.00. It won’t even buy a tank of gas this day and age, but in 1812 the settlers of Township Six Range Seven gathered together and set aside $21.00 to establish Guilford’s first school. Up until 1817 all schools were private. It is worthy to note that the education ball started rolling with a mere $21.00.

The first public school on record that was established in Guilford existed in Captain John Bennett’s shed. School was in session two times per year. The first session met in summer under the supervision of teacher Miss Betsey Moore and the second session met in the winter under the tutelage of Mr. Robert Low Jr. This arrangement lasted only a short time as town residents pooled their resources together to construct a school building in Guilford Center.

Guilford Center Schoolhouse, ca. 1895
Guilford Center Schoolhouse, ca. 1895

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

The second school to appear in Guilford was built in 1818 in Guilford Center. This marked the first time in Guilford’s history that a structure was built specifically for the purpose of serving as a school to educate her children. This school also served as a Town Hall and meeting place. The building was constructed of logs and featured an open fireplace that was said to be used by the children to warm their corn cakes and potatoes for lunch. Unfortunately the Guilford Center School met an early demise as it became the first casualty of fire in 1825.

North Guilford School House, 1912
North Guilford School House, 1912

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

A school was built in Guilford on the corner of High Street and Blaine Avenue. This building was a frame structure that also was destroyed by fire. A second building was constructed at the same location that served as a school until 1880. In that year a new Town Hall was built with classroom space available to serve as a school as well as handle the affairs of the town of Guilford. By 1880 all Guilford Village school age children attended classes at the new Town Hall.

Guilford Town Hall, ca. 1890
Guilford Town Hall, ca. 1890

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

In 1892 the town appropriated a sum of $15,000 to invest in the education of high school age students. The younglings still attended classes at the Town Hall. This marked the first time in town history that older students would have a building designated for their own educational purposes.

8th & 9th grade students, Guilford, Fall 1913
8th & 9th grade students, Guilford, Fall 1913

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

The 8th and 9th Grade Guilford students are shown here in the fall of 1913 on the steps of the Guilford Town Hall. Miss Coombs, the teacher is in the back row on the right.

Guilford High School - Centennial - 1916
Guilford High School - Centennial - 1916

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

By 1916 Guilford had built a state of the art grade school building located behind where the high school stood. Both the grade school and high school were decked out with buntings and other festive decorations for the town of Guilford’s Centennial celebration.

School ink well and dog, Guilford, ca. 1920
School ink well and dog, Guilford, ca. 1920

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society
Porcelain Blue Vase with picture of Guilford High School, ca. 1920
Porcelain Blue Vase with picture of Guilford High School, ca. 1920

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

Unfortunately, fire struck again as it gutted the High School on April 4, 1925. The citizens of Guilford yet again displayed their resiliency and resolve by building another school and dedicating it one year later almost to the day (April 5, 1926).

Guilford High School ruins, Guilford, 1925
Guilford High School ruins, Guilford, 1925

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

The new ultra modern facility was a bit more expensive than its predecessor coming in at a price of $90,000.

Guilford High School Construction, 1926
Guilford High School Construction, 1926

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society
Guilford High School & Guilford Grade School, 1930
Guilford High School & Guilford Grade School, 1930

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society
Piscataquis Community Middle School
Piscataquis Community Middle School

Item Contributed by
Guilford Historical Society

Maine School Administrative District # 4 M.S.A.D. #4

In 1947 the Maine State Legislature passed a law intending to create regional high schools. Superintendent Frank Kent placed the wheels in motion, and in 1948 Piscataquis Community High School was formed. The name changed in 1949 to Piscataquis Community School District and served students in grades 7-12. The school experienced some expansion projects that included outdoor tennis courts, a gymnasium, and an assembly hall that included a stage. A cafeteria and a home-economics room were added as well.

More changes were certainly on the horizon. On August 29, 1958 SAD #4 was born as it served to educate the communities of Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville, and Wellington. By the fall of 1963 it was apparent that further expansion was necessary so a Superintendent’s office was added along with a chemistry lab, a physics lab, and a manual training shop. At this time there were approximately 1200 students attending SAD #4 schools with annual expenditures of $650,000.

As the Guilford area’s older students were taking advantage of more modern facilities the younger students were not to be left out. In 1954 a new Elementary School was built on High Street. This new school was to serve the population of sub-primary, first and second grade students.