The first building at St. Paul’s School was the summer home of the School’s founder, Dr. George Shattuck, Jr. The building, along with a parcel of land, was deeded to the school by Dr. Shattuck in 1855. The first Rector, Henry Augustus Coit, and the first three students arrived in Millville in April of 1856.
The house was built in 1803. It was the first brick building in Concord and was known as the Brick Tavern, having once served as a roadside inn. In the early days of the school, the Rector, his family, the teachers, and the students were all housed here. The building went through several renovations, growing as the number of students steadily increased.
On 21 July 1878, the building was struck by lightning and burned beyond repair. An account of the fire appeared in the October 1878 issue of the Horae Scholasticae: “It was found impossible, with our own resources, to stop the progress of the flames, and all our attention was devoted to saving property.” And thus St. Paul’s had its first vanished building.
From its earliest days, SPS has been building, expanding, renovating, relocating, and tearing down its buildings. As the School has grown and evolved, many buildings have disappeared and passed slowly from memory, living on only in the archives.
So, why so much building and tearing down? Besides buildings being lost to fire, there are lots of reasons. First, the number of students grew quickly. While initially there were only 3 students, by 1878 there were 211 students and today there are well over 500. Second, the size of the school property increased. Through various land acquisitions, endowments and gifts there was room for more school buildings, more faculty housing, and more athletic fields. Then, technology improved – utilities, services, materials. The choice for many of the old buildings was to be modernized or to be torn down. And lastly, SPS buildings see a lot of use and that wear and tear takes a toll over time.
This quote from the June 6, 1929 issue of the Horae Scholasticae perhaps sums it up best: “The passing of a landmark no matter how insignificant is always a matter of regret…Let us, however, comfort ourselves with the reflection that since life began the old has made way for the new.”
Want to learn more? Come to our first ever Archives Talk on Monday, October 23rd at 6:30 in Room 205 of Ohrstrom Library. Our archivist, Ms. Parsi, will be talking about the many vanished buildings in St Paul’s past, as well as sharing historic photographs from the archives. Hope to see you there!