by Pat Kelly, Head of Reference
A Tale of Two Schools: the Centre Schoolhouse (1856) on Summer Street and the Center School (1903) on Main Street
The Lynnfield Historical Commission recently installed a sign in front of the children’s room of the Lynnfield Public Library to identify its original purpose as the Centre Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was erected on Summer Street in 1856 to serve the schoolchildren of Lynnfield, and was described in Wellman’s History of Lynnfield 1635-1895 (p 12) as “…much the finest in town that had ever been built, and at present time contains the largest room in town.” By the very early 1900s, the school was becoming insufficient for the population; in 1902 the town voted to build a two-room schoolhouse on Main Street to replace the Centre Schoolhouse. The Center School opened on January 12, 1903 on the site that presently houses Center Village senior citizen housing. In 1905, the Lynnfield Public Library moved into the old Centre Schoolhouse from the library’s previous home (since 1892) in a room at the Town Hall. Additions to the Center School were added in 1919, 1937 and 1948 to serve a growing population of schoolchildren. Through the sixties, enrollment remained high and the Center School operated at full capacity. According to the Lynnfield Annual Report of 1981 (p 34), due to declining enrollment and economic restraints caused by Proposition 2 ½, the school committee voted on February 23, 1981 to close the Center School at the end of the school year in June. Plans to construct senior citizen housing at the former school site were approved at Town Meeting in 1982. Ground was broken in spring of 1983, and the first buildings were ready for occupancy in December 1983. The Center Village senior citizen complex was designed by Royal Barry Wills Associates and constructed by the C. B. Wills Company. [Lynnfield Annual Town Reports 1982 (p 8) and 1983 (p 22)]
So the Centre Schoolhouse (1856) lives on as the children’s room of the Lynnfield Public Library, while the Center School (1903) made way for Center Village (1983).