Wildes District School

The town of Arundel, Massachusetts had just 5 school districts when the first United States Census was taken in 1790. It was up to the people residing in a neighborhood to build their own schoolhouse. Consequently, they were typically small crude structures. They hired their own teachers, who boarded with families in the neighborhood during the school term. After Maine became a State in 1820, education was gradually afforded a higher priority. The Maine State Board of Education was established in 1846.
A Wildes District School was already standing about where 64 Wildes District Road stands now across from Wildwood Fire Station when the 1856 map was surveyed. The first Annual Report for the Town of Kennebunkport was printed in 1861. Wildes School was included as District 13, of 13, perhaps indicating that it was the most recently established district. In his report, Warren Brown, the supervisor of the Public Schools of Kennebunkport, implored the parents of Wildes District students to assist in their children’s education by each committing to visit the school once a year. Of the 86 eligible scholars in the district that year only 48 ever attended and average attendance was 36 pupils. Six years later in the Annual Report, the supervisor of schools reported that teachers at the Wildes District “found a hard field to cultivate.” He blamed “pernicious home influences” for the children’s disorderly behavior. The Wildes School appears in the same location on the 1872 map. In 1875, the supervisor lamented the poor attendance at the Wildes school again. Out of 71 school-aged children in the district only 21 attended regularly. “An enlarged and improved schoolhouse would doubtless help,” wrote he.
Twenty-eight years later, in 1903, Kennebunkport voters finally appropriated $2,000 to buy a nearby lot (58 Wildes District) and build a new Wildes District Schoolhouse. William H. Cluff purchased the old schoolhouse at auction. Historian, Joyce Butler wrote in her two-volume Kennebunkport history, “The new schoolhouse, which had slate blackboards, went over budget, costing almost $2,600 plus $800 for furnishings—including individual desks for students; but, the selectmen described its pleasant situation, neat style of architecture, substantial workmanship, modern fittings and furniture as a credit to the town.”
The new Wildes District School served the neighborhood until 1951 when Consolidated School was built on School St. The old building was converted to apartments in 1960. It was used as a motel in the 1970s and then became School Days apartments in the 1980s. It still stands at 58 Wildes District Road serving as workforce housing for summer resort workers.

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