June 28, 2016

On June 28, 2016 the old Upper Sunday River School House was moved to its new home further up the Sunday River Road. The Upper Sunday River School House was purchased by Bill and Donna Purdie and Vaughan and Elizabeth Sanborn from the Sunday River Skiway

The Dana E Watson & Son Building Movers of Naples, ME moved the school house from where it has stood since about 1829 to the Purdie’s and Sanborn’s home at the junction of the Sunday River and Outward Bound roads.

Alan Fleet, who grew up near the school and still lives nearby, joined the new owners after the move was over to talk about the old school’s history and use over the last one hundred plus years.


August 21, 1980, Bethel Citizen

In 1825 there were 78 school pupils on Bear River and 81 on Sunday River in Newry. In 1829 it was moved to build four school houses in the town. The town was divided into four districts. Lower Sunday River being #1; Lower Bear River #2; Upper Sunday River # 3; and Upper Bear River #4. In 1837 when part of Andover West Surplus was added to Newry, two more districts were added to Bear River the upper #5 and lower #6.

Although new schools were built in some of the other districts at later dates, no record was found of another building in district #3, the Upper Sunday River School since 1829. In 1831, District # 3 had 36 pupils, with a budget of $21.24 or 59 cents per pupil. It is believed that this is in addition to teacher’s pay. In 1897, $75 was raised to build wood sheds in Districts # 3, # 5, and #6.  In the early 1940’s, when the Town tractor was taken to Sunday River, the shed in District #3 was converted to a garage for the tractor.

The Upper Sunday River School was closed in 1926 or 1927, and all Sunday River pupils attended the Lower School until that was closed in 1943 and pupils were sent to Bethel schools.

In 1951, the school was put up for sale by bids, and was purchased by George Stowell. It was later sold to Holman Bacon and is now (1980) by his son, Holman Bacon Jr.

At one time James Reynolds owned the school house and land which he sold for $1.00

(After 1980 the building and land was sold to the Sunday River Skiway. The Skiway owned the property when the buildings were purchased by the current owners – Bill and Donna Purdie and Vaughan and Elizabeth Sanborn.

Donna and Bill Purdie watch the move progress

L to R  Donna and Bill :Purdie, Vaughan Sanborn

and Alan Fleet

School house resting at its new home


Viewers Commented:


Randall H. Bennett Happy to see the old school rescued and starting a new life. This is where Roscoe Alonzo Fifield (father of Martha Fifield Wilkins, who wrote SUNDAY RIVER SKETCHES) first attended school.  


Mike Heffernan Even though it typically cost more to do this type of restoration then to build new. I too am always pleased when an old structure like this is given a new life.


Penny Fleet Cadogan This is great. It was always a beautiful building but needed a new home too close to the river it would be flooded sometimes.


Julie Daye I remember that my grandfather, James Reynolds, sold the school to the town for $1.00.


Steve Wight History on the move! Part of our barn at The Red House was removed from another site in the valley and add to the original barn structure. Be sure to get the pics to Alison at The Citizen!


Lin Chapman Hugh and I went to check out the new site. Years ago, Hugh's family owned that farmhouse and several acres of land (now Outward Bound) where the school now sets. Had a great visit with Vaughn and Elizabeth. So glad they saved the old school.