Eliot Academy Records, 1839-1864 – MS124

Eliot Academy Records, 1839-1864  – MS124

Provenance: Portsmouth Athenaeum Special Collection Purchase

Citation: Eliot Academy Records (MS124), Manuscript Collections, Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: 1 Hollinger Boxes (.5 linear ft.)

Access: No Restrictions

Processed by: Susan Stowe Kindstedt, 2017

Scope and Content

The collection contains specific financial records related to the construction of the school in 1839, including the names of contractors and suppliers, as well as during a large renovation and addition in 1855. The records allude to division amongst shareholders and financial hardship, including a broadside from 1855 questioning the decisions of the trustees. Financial records provide the names of teachers and principals as well as salaries. Financial records also provide the names of individuals hired to perform building maintenance and cleaning (primarily women). Share certificates provide lists of trustees and supporters. The records also include lists of students and insurance information. Records in this collection end in 1864 and the Academy was destroyed by fire in 1875.

Note that this collection has been cataloged by folder and each folder record includes entries in the People and Search Term fields unique to the folder.

Historical Note

The Eliot Academy was built in 1839 and was located at the corner of State and Old Roads in Eliot. In addition to being used as a school the building was used by the community for community lectures, political events, balls and teas. It was used by Lyceums, Temperance Societies and the Universalist Society. Private teachers rented the space for dancing and singing schools. Students traveled from Berwick, York and Portsmouth, as well as other communities. An advertisement published in the Portsmouth Journal, August 29, 1840, stated: “To those who are unacquainted with the history and locality of this Academy, the Trustees would say, that they have erected a new and commodious building, situated on the main road leading from South Berwick to Portsmouth, about 4 1-2 miles from the latter place. It is pleasantly situated, commanding a fine view of the Piscataqua river and the surrounding country for many miles. It is in many respects a retired situation and such as the parent might select who wished his child’s attention mainly directed to study…” The same advertisement noted that board was available with “good families” for an added cost. Israel Kimball, later the principal of Portsmouth High School, was an early teacher at the Academy and also operated a singing school at the Academy in the early 1840s. In 1855 there was an addition added to the original building. The Academy burned December 21, 1875 and was not rebuilt.

Folder Listing:

Box 1

Folder 1 1839-1840 Treasurer’s Records including financial records of the proprietors of the Eliot Academy. Includes lists of individuals who contributed financially to the Academy. First page references purchase of building supplies for building construction. A February 15, 1840 entry shows a payment made to Israel Kimball.

Folder 2 1840-1848 Building Use Record includes list of organizations (Universalist Society, Temperance Society, Two Knights Lyceum, and Town of Eliot) using the building or purpose of use (religious, political, benevolent, temperance, singing school, dancing school and balls), representative of the organization, date and fee paid.

Folder 3 1843-1853 Treasurer’s Records including expenses for cleaning (women) and building maintenance (mending stoves, windows, painting, etc). Entries also include renting the hall for meetings of the Lyceum, Universalist Society, Eliot & Kittery Insurance Company, Sons of Temperance and a singing school run by Sylvestor Paul. The hall was also rented out for lectures, councils, balls, tea parties and concerts.

Folder 4 1853-1855 Treasurer’s Records including building use records, expenses for cleaning and building maintenance as well as list of organizations (Town of Eliot) using the building or purpose of use (lectures, concerts, meetings, singing school, dancing school, ball, including an “Indian Dance” in 1855), representative of the organization, date and fee paid.

Folder 5 Financial 1847-1854 Receipts and invoices including expenses of building upkeep and improvements including steps for the front door, trees, grass, nails, lumber, painting fence, cleaning, and stone posts.

Folder 6 Financial 1855 Receipts and invoices including expenses of an addition put on the Academy building in 1855 including doors, gilding, clapboards, plastering, painting, windows and lumber. Records of the work begin with a bill by Horace Parker for “drawing plan and making estimate” and “examining Eliot Academy” followed by an bills for building supplies from Bennett and Treadwell, Jenkins and Goodrich, One bill is from Swasey and Rowell for Gilding arrow and acorn for the Eliot Academy and one is from A. J. Hill for “turning acorn newel post and banisters for stairs.” There is a painting invoice from Charles W. Gotham for oil, French Yellow and graining material.

Folder 7 Financial 1856-1858 Receipts and invoices including expenses of an addition put on the Academy building in 1855 including supplies such as brick, locks and general hardware as well as payments made to suppliers such as Bennett and Treadwell and Jenkins and Goodrich.

Folder 8 Financial 1860 Receipts and invoices related to teacher salaries, building use and maintenance including a receipt from E. P. Dutton for a pair of globes and set of maps.

Folder 9 Financial 1861 Receipts and invoices related to teacher and principal salaries, building use as the normal school, advertisements and maintenance including installation of black boards.

Folder 10 Financial 1863-1865 Receipts and invoices related to teacher and principal salaries, building use, advertisements and maintenance including plaster, boards, glass, hair, clapboards, lumber and chimney work.

Folder 11 Financial 1866-1871 Receipts and invoices related to teacher and principal salaries, building use, advertisements and maintenance including plaster, boards, glass, hair, clapboards, lumber and chimney work.

Folder 12 Share Certificates 1854-1866 Includes share certificates with name and town of owner, notes of transfer of shares and notes giving permission for other owners to cast votes of absentee shareholders. Also includes blank share certificates.

Folder 13 Student Lists ca. 1860s including tuition paid and parent name.

Folder 14 Insurance Documents 1844-1855 Includes documents related to insurance policies on the Academy building.

Folder 15 Meeting Notices and Minutes 1852-1871 Sporadic (not a complete annual run) of meeting notices and minutes of decisions made at meetings. Includes discussion of building use and officers.

Folder 16 Correspondence related to raising funds and purchasing a bell for the Eliot Congregational Church, 1853 Includes a list of subscribers and correspondence with the vendor, Andrew Meneely at the West Troy Bell Foundry in West Troy, New York.

Folder 17 Correspondence, 1855. All proxy letters from Eliot Academy proprietors allowing other members to vote for them.

Folder 18 Correspondence – Normal School, 1860-1861. Correspondence related to the establishment of the Eliot Normal School from 1860-1861. Letters are between the Eliot Academy Trustees (Secretary, Horace Parker) and the Maine Secretary of State, Noah Smith. One letter discusses searching for a teacher of the normal school. Another lists the individuals who will examine the students, including: Rev. Otis Holmes, Rev. Moore, Rev. Allen of South Berwick, George A. Hammond Esq., Dr. C. H. Guptail, Horace Parker, J. D. Frost Esq. and Rev. Parker of York. The letters focus on new requirements brought to schools in the Normal School Amendment in the Maine State Legislature.

Folder 19 Correspondence – Financial, 1860-1864. Correspondence related to bill collection.

Folder 20 Broadsides (2)
“Review of a Protest Made by William Fogg, Esq. and als. Against the proceedings of a Legal Meeting of the Proprietors of the Eliot Academy, held on the 2d day of April, A. D. 1855, and presented to the Secretary of the Proprietors of said Corporation…”
Auction announcement for the sale of a house, November 11, 1865 with description of house, land, neighborhoods, etc.

Folder 21 Miscellaneous notes and letter covers