This property on King Street was gifted to the Oxford Historical Society to become the site of the town’s last remaining one-room schoolhouse. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

OXFORD — As the Oxford Historical Society continues its mission to rescue, relocate and restore the Pigeon Hill School House, the town’s last link to 19th century rural education, no one was more surprised than Society President Patricia Larrivee when land, including a bird sanctuary, was gifted to the society by Second Estate Corporation, another nonprofit with roots to Oxford.

Second Estate had reviewed its assets and wanted to make sure the property would continue to be utilized by a community nonprofit.

“We were approached by the Second Estate Corporation,” Larrivee said. “The land used to be used by Boy Scouts for camping.

“They saw how badly we needed a place for the schoolhouse, and they thought it would a perfect fit.”

With the Boy Scout troop who previously used the land disbanded, historical society trustees have researched possible uses and are in discussion with local church groups who may be interested in holding events there. The First Congregational Church on King Street hosts Girl Scout activities, which Larrivee feels would be a natural fit and in keeping with the property’s tradition.

The parcel consists of three lots totaling about 1.65 acres.


The parcel where Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse will be located is less than one acre, but large enough to accommodate the building and a parking area for visitors to the schoolhouse as well as the bird sanctuary.

“I envision the schoolhouse will sit close to the road, but parking will be accessed through Royal Shores Lane, the private drive,” Larrivee told the Advertiser Democrat during a recent nickel tour of the property.

The project is not a hasty effort – the schoolhouse still awaits the move – but under Larrivee’s guidance it is blossoming into an old-school type of barn raising, with volunteers and materials coming out of the woodwork throughout the community.

Since closing for good in the mid-20th century, the Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse has been used as a farm workshop and shed. The Oxford Historical Society will soon move it to a new site and restore it to its previous condition, complete with its original classroom furniture. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Students in Oxford Hills Tech School’s forestry and heavy equipment program have been learning their trade by cutting on town-owned woodlots on Swamp and Town Farm roads. The logs students are harvesting will be locally milled and utilized to replace Pigeon Hill’s rotting timbers.

Record Lumber is donating planking to be used for a new floor, along with some pressure-treated materials for sills. Larrivee said the Dirt Store has donated 10 yards of gravel to be used for the building’s pad. And Dancing Willows Trucking of Oxford has agreed to oversee the sitework, donating its labor while OHS covers the cost for equipment fuel.

“We don’t think it will take more than a day for the groundwork to be completed,” Larrivee said. The hand-cut granite that the school currently sits on at Rabbit Valley Road will be brought to King Street and serve as its stone foundation. “We want the building to be as low to the ground as possible for access, so we may just need to add a bit of cement blocking.”


The bird sanctuary is less than a half-acre. Larrivee said OHS plans to continue using it for that purpose. The only change will be to eventually remove blow-down trees and widow maker limbs to make it safe for bird watchers and nature lovers.

“What we’ll do is hold a fundraiser for people to pay for memory benches to be added,” she said. “Benches can be purchased in honor of the historical society’s founding members. And people can also purchase a memory bench for their own loved ones.”

One more small contiguous lot with muted views of Thompson Lake rounds out the donated property, which was formally deeded over to OHS on May 22. Its use will be limited to being an extension of the bird sanctuary.

“We are going to be mindful to our neighbors,” Larrivee said. “We are very grateful for the donation.”

Since last year, OHS has raised $31,297 to move and restore the Pigeon Hill Schoolhouse, which was donated to the historical group by the family of the late Evan Thurlow, who attended the school in the 1930s and owned the corner of Rabbit Valley Road and Route 26 where the schoolhouse was built back in 1867.

Copp & Sons Building Movers from Cumberland will move the building to its new home on King Street. Aaron Sturgis, a restoration contractor and owner of Preservation Timber Framing, Inc. in Gray, will prepare the schoolhouse to be moved and oversee its reconstruction.

Comments are not available on this story.