This schoolhouse served the Cider Hill area of York for almost one hundred years. At first it was probably used only three or four months of the year, between planting time and harvesting, when children were free from farm chores. Originally built in 1745, it was located about one hundred yards from the present junction of Routes 1 and 91. When the local residents received permission from the Selectmen to build their schoolhouse, no funds were provided and they had "to construct at their own cost and charges."
Ten years later the town voted that two pounds, three shillings and four pence (about $13) be paid out of town money "towards finishing the...schoolhouse." Records indicate "its construction did not proceed beyond the bare requirements of actual protection from the elements."
In 1850, the Town of York replaced it with a larger building and auctioned the old structure for $30. The new owner moved it to a lot in York village and converted it to a small house; by 1880 it was used as a tool storage shed. Miss Elizabeth Perkins recognized its potential historic value and was instrumental in acquiring the building for preservation and museum purposes. In 1935 it was moved to its present site across from the Old Burying Yard and by 1936, after restoration by noted colonial revival architect Philip Dana Orcutt, was opened to the public as an example of a colonial era school. Miss Perkins studied other New England schoolhouses of the period, particularly one at Sudbury, Massachusetts.
During its tenure as a dwelling and shed, the building had been covered with shingles and divided into three rooms. An extra window had been cut on the west side and set in a modern frame. When five layers of wallpaper were stripped to expose the original pine walls, the initials and graffiti of ships scratched by former students were found. Visitors can still see these scratchings today.
Just behind the Old Schoolhouse is a rare survival from the early 18th century - a pyramid roofed privy with original weatherboard siding. It is available for exterior viewing.
Today the Old Schoolhouse teaches thousands of children each year about education during the 18th century. Hands-on experiences and first person interpretations enhance the children's visit.