Center School House; Elizabeth Houser Museum

dsc04116The Center School House; Elizabeth Houser Museum

The Center School was built about 1845 by local mason Lyman Fellows. This building was to replace the old school that was probably constructed of wood. The “Brick Schoolhouse” is a unique feature of Canterbury’s historic center and is one of the few buildings that survived the devastating Center Fire in 1943. It was here for one hundred years that the schoolchildren of the Center District #7 were taught, and where Mr. Fellows’ grandniece, Elizabeth Houser, taught in the building where she herself had been educated.

For many years after Miss Houser’s death, and the practice of one room schoolhouses was long antiquated, the people of Canterbury continued to educate their children in the small schools. However, one by one, as the number of children lessened and the old schoolhouses slowly either became beyond repair or burned, the children were brought to the nearest schoolhouse until only the Center, Cater, Uplands and Kezar schools remained. In 1956, a new central school was built after many years of debate and the small schoolhouses closed.

The Center School remained a landmark of Canterbury Center for many years, being used as a storage building for the old school supplies and desks, amongst other uses. At the formation of the Canterbury Historical Society, they were given use of the building by the community at the Town Meeting of 1970.

On the 1st day of November, 1971, the small brick Center School house was dedicated in memory of all teachers of Canterbury but especially the teacher who had both attended and taught school there- Miss Elizabeth Houser. It has since been known as the Elizabeth Houser Museum and today houses the Historical Society’s One Room Schoolhouse Program for the children at Canterbury Elementary School.

“Harvest Home” by Samuel Papps

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