Portsmouth Historical Society thanks restoration donors

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Portsmouth Historical Society recently thanked donors, who helped restore the oldest one-room schoolhouse in Rhode Island. 

The oldest one-room schoolhouse in Rhode Island, an historic landmark maintained by the Portsmouth Historical Society, recently received badly-needed restoration with the help of several supporters, including the Catalano Family, the T. Yates Exley Charitable Fund and the Newport Restoration Foundation. 

They provided funding for the project, which returned the society’s “Southermost” Schoolhouse to its former condition.

The Southermost Schoolhouse

The Portsmouth Town Council authorized the construction of 2 one-room schoolhouses in 1716.  The fate of the other schoolhouse is unknown, but the “Southermost” schoolhouse was built in 1725 on Union Street at a cost of 23 pounds. 

Around 1800, this schoolhouse was moved to the south corner of West Main Road and Union Street.

In 1863, the town sold the schoolhouse and it was moved to Lakeside Farm, a private residence on Union Street, where it was used as a harness shed for almost 90 years. 

In 1952, it was given to the Portsmouth Historical Society by the Hall family and moved to its present location. Considered to be
the oldest one-room schoolhouse in Rhode Island, it is one of the society’s most popular exhibits.

The schoolhouse is one of three buildings maintained and preserved by the Portsmouth Historical Society on its property at the corner of
Union Street and East Main Road. 

The society’s buildings and museum are open for visitors from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

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