After its doors were closed in 1942, no one knew what would happen to the one-room school house on Woody Hill Road. The building where the children of Exeter School District No.1 had been educated no longer had a teacher, and the pupils had transferred to the Lewis school.
For decades, the building remained unoccupied, quietly suffering the annual freeze and thaw, windstorms, rain and destructive activities of small animals, insects, and human vandalism. Several years ago, the Exeter One-Room Schoolhouse Committee, along with the Exeter Town Council, secured a grant from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to halt the deterioration and restore the building for use as a place to teach about Exeter’s history.
Renovation finally began this summer after carefully determining what work needed to be done to preserve historical authenticity of the structure. Preliminary inspections showed that the plaster ceiling had deteriorated beyond repair so was removed after the interior furnishings – desks, woodstove – had been moved to a temporary storage unit on site. Rotted rafters and windows are being replaced as are the termite-eaten sills and floor joists and new doors are being constructed. All work is being done by Brian Patch of PlanB Construction ,who is certified for renovation work on historic buildings.
Work begins by bringing in a temporary storage unit and dumpster.
Furnishings and construction materials are kept in a locked storage unit on site.
Keeping the building level while severe damage to the sills is repaired.
Deteriorated rafters are replaced with new lumber while the original structure is preserved as much as possible.
Photos courtesy Sheila Reynolds-Boothroyd.