Locations of Schools in Sherborn
First Public School
Pine Hill School
1709: First Public Schooling in
In 1709, the town voted to provide
schooling for three months in three
different parts of town. The schools
were still held in private houses. The
three places were the Plain, South End,
and Dirty Meadow. These schools would
have been located in private homes on
Edward’s Plain near North Main Street,
in South Sherborn near the Charles
River, and off Washington Street.
A tax of £8 was levied to pay for the
schools. Since this vote in 1709, the
town has paid for public schools.
In 1719, the town voted that schools
should be kept in homes in five parts of
the town. Chestnut Brook and Bald Hill
were added to the list of places where
schools were held.
1727: First Public Schoolhouse Is Built
Using the money from the 50 acres of land that was set aside in 1679, the town
decided to build a schoolhouse. In 1727, a school building that was built was 18 feet long
and 20 feet wide, which is smaller than a Pine Hill School classroom. The schoolhouse
was located next to the meetinghouse, near where the Unitarian Church stands today.
This building was used until 1770, when the building and its contents were bought by
The school was open only during the winter, when the children were not needed on the
farms. It was taught by a man teacher. The teaching staff grew to two when, in 1761, the
town voted to pay a woman to teach the smaller children.
Reading, writing, and cyphering (simple math) were taught. The General Court of
the Colony (the Legislature) also specified that other subjects be taught, such as Latin,
Greek, and history. There have been state educational requirements (“frameworks”) for
hundreds of years!
1700s and 1800s: One-Room Schoolhouses
As the population of the town grew from about 800 people at the end of the
1700s to 1,500 at the end of 1800s, the town was divided into several areas, or
school districts, where small, one room schoolhouses were built. The 16 square
mile size of Sherborn required several schools so children could easily walk to
them. In 1828, clear boundaries for the school districts were established. A
School Committee was formed in 1838.
By 1852, there were as many as seven little schools around town. A woman
usually taught summer term, and a man taught winter, when the older boys
would join the girls and younger boys in school.
The Plain School was located at 60 North Main Street. This school building was built
in 1834 by Hiram Jones. It was called the "Plain School" because it was in a part of
town known as Edward’s Plain (named for Edward West, the first schoolmaster, who
owned a large land grant there). A library for the school was kept in the house across
the street at 59 North Main Street. The school building was near the blacksmith shop in
the Stone House down the street. The school children were entertained when Malachi
Babcock, the blacksmith, sang as he hammered at his forge!
In 1900, the school building was moved closer to the roadway and remodeled as a
house that still stands today. When it was a school, the building was set further back
from the road with the playground for the children in front of it.
Center School was a large
two-story wooden structure
located near the Unitarian
Church and the town
common. In 1910, many of the
smaller, one room school
houses were unified into this
more centralized school.
Since the children could no
longer just walk down the
street to a local schoolhouse,
they were brought by barge to
this school in the town’s
center. The school barge was a
horse-drawn, open wagon or
1800s and 1900s: HorseDrawn School Barges
There were several barges that
picked up children from all over
town for the long, slow trip to and
from Center School. In winter, the
children were bundled into
blankets and covered with hay
because it took a chilly hour to get
across town to the school!
1915: Trucks for School Barges
In 1915 the first trucks began being used as
barges. Later, Model-T trucks were used. They
had long benches on each side and a canvas top
for bad weather. Later, hard tops replaced the
canvas. The back of the vehicle was open and
doubled as an emergency door.
Sherborn School Barge
1928: Safer School
In 1928, the Sherborn
(formed in 1838)
insisted that all school
buses be closed at the
rear. The children had
to enter and leave
through the cab beside
the driver. Soon after,
this became a state
1910: New Brick Center School
In the early 20th century, Center School’s old wooden structure was replaced with a
new brick building, which was completed in 1910. This new building stood next to the
town common. The old wooden school building was moved down the street, where it was
added to the Paul House at 41 North Main Street.
1949: Center School Enlarged
In 1949, Center School was enlarged.
It housed first through sixth grade.
Kindergarten was added in 1950. After
1957, it held only Kindergarten
through third grade. As the population
of the town grew rapidly in the 1960s
and 1970s, Kindergarten and first
grade were moved up to Pine Hill
School, and Center School housed only
second and third grades.
“New” Town Hall Building
By the early 1980s, the Center School
building was no longer used as a
school, and it began to hold some of
the town offices. Eventually, it became
Town Hall. A 21st century renovation
of Town Hall gave us the larger,
modernized Town Hall building we
1858: A Schoolroom in the New Town House
“The Town House” was what the Community Center building used to be called.
Since it was built in 1858, it has stood next to the meetinghouse on the common. At
that time it contained a spacious and elegant schoolroom and the town's first public
library. The Town House also housed some of the elected town officials, as well as
the Police Station. In addition, it provided a place for social events.
1859-1873: Dowse High School
Until the m id-19th century, high school aged children
were educated privately in town. Then, in 1858, Thomas
Dowse left the town money to establish and run the first
public high school in Sherborn. The school met in the
schoolroom of the new Town House.
The school's first term began in March of 1859. The
school term lasted only eleven weeks. (The school year
wasn’t lengthened to 40 weeks until 1927.) The teacher,
Mr. F. A. Baker, was paid $40 for his services, plus room
and board. Mr. Baker had already been a teacher for
several years in the district schools of the town during the
Students ages 12 and older took an exam to be
admitted to the school. They were tested in reading,
spelling, writing, grammar, and arithmetic. Sixty pupils
went to the school, and they filled all the seats.
For the next 15 years, Dowse High School provided
education in the basic, as well as in the more advanced
educational subjects, such as the classics and history, to
the older children of the town.
1874-1940s: Sawin Academy
In 1870, Martha Sawin of Natick
left the town a large sum of money to
build and support an academy for
instruction in the advanced subjects
of learning. Dedication exercises took
place on September 10, 1874, for the
new Sawin Academy.
This building was located where the
Sherborn Library now stands. The two-story
structure was built of brick and granite. It
was topped with a mansard roof and a 90foot-tall, octagonal tower. At first it was a
private academy, but it became a public
high school in 1910.
Changes in the School Terms
In the 1700s, the school term was only for three months during the winter, when the
children were not needed on their farms. Gradually, more terms were added. In the mid1880s, the school year ran from April through the following February. The three terms were
summer, fall, and winter. The largest number of children attended the winter term because
they were not needed on their farms.
Later in the 19th century, the school terms were changed
to fall, winter, and spring, as we now know them, and the
school year was extended to 36 weeks. By law, school
attendance was required only from ages 8 to 14 and for at
least 20 weeks a year. In 1927, the school year was
lengthened to 40 weeks, much as it remains today when 180
days are required by state law.
1957: Pine Hill School Is Built
In the late 1950s, a new school building was built on top of Pine Hill, near some of the
town’s recreation fields. The Pine Hill School opened in September, 1957. It housed
grades 4 through 8, while Center School still held Kindergarten through grade 3.
In 1971, additions were made to Pine Hill School, giving the building a new dining
room, as well as a new media center, with a large central library space and several open
Pine Hill School
1998: Additions to Pine Hill School
In 1998, renovations and additions were made again to Pine Hill School. A full-size
gym and four Kindergarten rooms were added, and the existing building was extensively
1962-Present: Dover-Sherborn Regional Schools
Since the 1940s, students in Sherborn had gone to high school in Framingham because
there were not students to have a high school in Sherborn. In the early 1960s, the towns of
Dover and Sherborn decided to unite their separate school systems. First, Dover-Sherborn
Regional High School was built and opened in 1962, in Dover.
Soon, the two towns decided to also regionalize grades 7 and 8, so a new High School
building was built on the same campus as the existing one. This new High School became
Dover-Sherborn Regional High School (“Regional” was dropped later). The old High School
building became Dover-Sherborn Junior High School. Grades 7 and 8 were moved from Pine
Hill School over to the new Dover-Sherborn Junior High School.
In the late 1990s, grade 6 was also regionalized, and the Junior High School became the
Dover-Sherborn Middle School. In the early 21 st century, a new Middle School building was
built, the old one torn down, and the High School building was refurbished. The DoverSherborn High School and Middle School share science and dining facilities, as well as
parking lots and athletic fields.