Atkinson's last one room schoolhouse

In 1880, carpenter Benjamin H. Steele (1823-1913) constructed the Center School on Academy Ave.

Also called the Little School, it allowed one teacher to educate grades 1-8. It served the town from 1880 to 1949, and grew crowded as Atkinson's population grew. In 1913 the schoolhouse was remodeled to fit more students, and then again in 1924/1925. By 1949 Atkinson had outgrown a one-room school. It closed its doors, and the students moved to the newly built Atkinson Academy.

The schoolhouse remained empty until 1960 when the Police and Selectmen merged

together and constructed three rooms: a waiting room, selectmen’s office and a large

room for the police department.

In 1982 while workers were installing an alarm system at the police department, they

discovered old school desks and chairs and a world globe, dated 1809 in the attic. One

desk had the initials “DHN” carved near the inkwell. The initials could be those of

Donald H. Nye, who later became Atkinson postmaster.

The globe was old and peeling; it showed many old names of countries like Siam,

French Indochina, and Persia.

The original tin ceiling with decorative moldings remained, above the existing ceiling at that time, 

The desks, chairs and globe were donated to the Atkinson Historical Society.

Around 1989 the police department moved to the Rockwell Building down the street;

they are currently utilizing the building today. Family Mediation opened the old Center

School building for their services in 1997. They rearranged the interior to their needs,

and later closed their doors in 2019.

At that point, AHS took the first steps in preserving the building once we became aware

of the Town’s interest in exploring different options for the property.

Preservation Efforts

In August 2022, the Center School was placed on the NH State Register of Historic

Places. Since then, the AHS has worked closely with the NH Preservation Alliance and

a restoration specialist to determine what needs to be done to restore the building to its

original intent. Current costs for both interior and exterior restoration is approximately


AHS is diligently working on multiple fundraising avenues directed to the Center School

Restoration Fund. We have applied for an LChip Grant (matching grant), and the Moose

Plate Grant. We have ten days scheduled in August and October 2023 at the Lucky

Moose, River Casino, Nashua. We have plans to schedule dates for 2024. We are also

selling AHS stickers and koozies.