Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 14, 2007

3rd Generation Ashaway Student Makes the Case for 1904 Building

Filed under: Chariho,Hopkinton — Editor @ 3:59 pm

“Best solution for the 1904 Ashaway School: Bring it up to code, and let it serve schoolchildren – just as it always has”


The old Ashaway Elementary School was built in 1904.


A plain, two-story, wooden struc­ture, with large sunny windows and beautiful molding throughout its cor­ridors and rooms, you’d never guess that it’s raised a storm of controversy. Town resident Georgia Ure will tell you how she and the comrades from her youth often came up with differ­ent ways of ringing the bell nestled in the tower every Hallow’s eve.


She’ll tell you how they obtained some mono-filament from one of the local factories, one end of which they would tie to the bells’ clapper and then throw the other end to hang down from the building. Transparent, it was virtually invisible. Then, on Hallow’s Eve they would grab the end, run up into the small wooded area around the school and pull on it, thus ringing the bell while safely hid­den among the trees. She’ll even tell you that sometimes the local police would just let them into the school to ring the bell; the tradition was known town-wide and was harmless enough. In 1972, the bell was relocated to a large cement block, located on the front lawn, with a placard commemo­rating it’s move. Carrying on the tra­dition, the next generation would continue to ring it each Hallow’s Eve from where it sat.


Another town resident, Sandie Burdick, will tell you how she enjoyed being able to look out of those large school windows, on the landings between floors, and see the other kids fooling around on the playground below. She believes that the schools today are too closed up, leaving the kids feeling suffocated and out of touch with the outside world.

As for me, Ashaway Elementary School is where I got my first kiss from a boy, underneath the fire escape during recess.


With all the memories the school carries, few residents want to see it torn down. For the last 103 years, the building has been used for its intend­ed purpose of educating children. The Chariho School District had leased the old school from the town – for $1 – and was supposed to maintain it and keep it up to fire code. Apparently, the upkeep fell by the wayside and, currently, it can no longer be used to house children – a situation that has caused great con­cern and created a dilemma among the town folk.


Some of the questions that all we Hopkintonions now must take into consideration as we attempt to address this issue are as follows: Do we restore it or raze it? If we do restore it, is the school district responsible to bear the financial bur­den?


After all, the lease stated that they were to maintain it. If not, can the town afford to incur the cost of restorations? Are the restorations even worth the investment or would razing it be a cheaper choice?


The locals have come up with an assortment of solutions that include bringing it up to code and continuing to use it as a school. Others believe we should bring it up to code and use it for town business, possibly storage of town records or town offices. Some believe it should be preserved and turned into a historical museum.


The dilemma with all of these solu­tions, excluding restoring the school for its intended purpose, is that the newer school, built in 1967 to combat overcrowding, sits just yards behind the original and still operates as a school. There is justifiable concern that using the old building for any of these purposes would give the gener­al public too much access to the area. In this day and age, protecting our children from any kind of threat is of the utmost importance.


So, short of moving it to another location, it seems that it’s useless for any other purpose than schooling children.


A team comprised of town officials, school officials and a few town resi­dents, including Georgia Ure, are due to inspect its current condition and try to hash out who is responsible for its current upkeep-as we are now in the dead of winter here in New England. The pipes need tending to and the heating needs to be kept up to prevent Old Man Winter from wreaking any further havoc on it.


Thousands of children began their educational journeys when they walked through the doors of that old school house including three genera­tions of my own family.


For me, the best solution would be to bring the building up to code which, according to some, would mean installing a sprinkler system, and continue to educate the children of our town there.


As Georgia puts it, “It’s built like the rock of Gibraltar.” What sense is there in razing it and going to the expense of building something new?.. No matter what is eventually decid­ed, the fact remains that the Old Ashaway Elementary School has deep roots in this town’s history and tradition and it holds sentimental value to many of its residents.


It’s been said that change is inevitable and one shouldn’t fight it when it comes knocking. But others believe that sometimes one shouldn’t answer the door and welcome change in when it’s possible and practical to tell it to come calling another day.

 Trudi A. Buck Ashaway



  1. change is inevitable!
    now look at what was said by the author of this article…”i got my first kiss from a boy under the fire escape at recess”. some may find this to be cute…i find it to be the begining of an immoral lifestyle! what kind of school promotes or would condone elementry children to kiss on school property on school time? is this person still just as care free morally as she was then? one of the town officials mentioned in this article, is none other than her own brother. what exactly is the purpose of a school? to teach children, to give them an education and to enhance socializational skills (communication/co-existing not kissing!) which should help them become productive members in a society. is tradition a focus here? is her own daughter going to get a kiss from a boy under the same fire escape? that better not happen! lets break that ugly tradition! what about the safety aspects? sprinkler systems, exposed heating pipes, paint pealing, roofs leaking, insulation, etc… some things have to change; attitudes, visions, environments. lets live in the past…where we may never see the future! look forward not backwards! “one thing you can always count on in life…that is change”! don’t re-locate the school gathering point permanantly…just change the building! the location is fine. safety and education has to be priority one! the children are our future.

    Comment by unknown — May 1, 2007 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  2. Geeze, a kiss… Yup, I can see the morality falling apart now. Good Lord knows we should not allow children to be children. Maybe we should get volunteer church wardens… er.. volunteers, to patrol to playground and stake out those fire escapes…
    Skip over the main point of her article why don’t you?

    Comment by boffthis — August 5, 2008 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

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