132 Bedford Center Rd
Address: 132 Bedford Center Road
Current Use: Commercial Business/Office
Historical Use: Education (school), Domestic
Construction Date: 1847
Source: History of Bedford NH 1737-1903
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Updates/Restorations: Windows (2005)
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This 1847 schoolhouse with a 19th century wing was moved to its present day place in 1991.
The circa 1847 building is the north-facing, one-story, four-bay former schoolhouse moved to this location by Seth Campbell around 1872. The schoolhouse was originally located near the Greeley farm on North Amherst Road northwest of the intersection with Wallace Road in Bedford. It was constructed about 1847 and known as the Union School when School District No. 9 was split and a new school district was formed joining west Bedford with the town of Amherst.
The first record of Bedford voting to hold a common school dates to 1753. The earliest schools were held in private homes until the first school building in Bedford was constructed around 1770 on a lot that was then one-quarter mile north of John Orr’s property and today about one-half mile south of the present high school off of Nashua Road. In 1772, a second school was constructed at the intersection of River and Back River Roads after Bedford locals raised the money for the task. The earliest school buildings in Bedford were described in a 1903 History of Bedford as being of log construction containing one room with small-paned windows, large fireplaces, and inclined or stepped aisles to allow the pupils at the rear of the room to see the lesson at the front of the room. Later, framed schoolhouses replaced the log structures and stoves replaced the large fireplaces.
By 1800 at least six school buildings had been constructed in Bedford, all by subscription, with no designated school district boundaries determined. This provided for chaotic, unbalanced schooling and thus in 1800, the citizens of Bedford voted to divide the town into nine districts, with new school buildings to be constructed in districts having none. With this vote and further school legislation in 1803, the Town of Bedford possessed one of the most controlled and organized school systems in the state. In Bedford, schooling was promoted and taxes were gathered to hire teachers and maintain the buildings. At different times throughout the 19th century, the Town of Bedford had two union schools, or schools shared with neighboring towns: one with Amherst near Joppa Road and North Amherst Road and one with Merrimack on Beals Road at the Merrimack line. The Amherst Union School was formed when Bedford’s School District No. 9 split in 1847 and the west side of Bedford joined with the town of Amherst. This union school ceased operation before 1872; however, it is known that about that time Seth P. Campbell moved the Amherst Union School building from North Amherst Road to its current location at 132 Bedford Center Road.
Once the schoolhouse was moved in 1872, it ceased to operate as a school and began functioning as a residence.
Seth P. Campbell; Susan Jeffers and Chales Seavy; and Damon Jenkins
It is likely that the ell was added either when the building was moved by Seth P. Campbell in 1872 or shortly thereafter when Susan Jeffers acquired the property in 1874. As a residence, the building would have needed a kitchen wing. Mrs. Jeffers, a widow, lived in the former schoolhouse with her brother, Charles Seavy, a laborer, until 1883, when Damon Jenkins acquired the property.
Nelson Fosher and the Campbells
Few alterations were made to the property as it passed from Nelson Fosher to several members of the Campbell family and their descendants.
Dr. Jonathan Lewis
Dr. Jonathan S. Lewis, Jr. ran a veterinary practice there in the 1940s, adding a one-story frame shed (non-extant) to shelter dogs at the southeast corner of the property.
The Schlinks; and Paul and Joyce Johonnet
The property passed from Dr. Lewis, through the Schlink family, to Paul and Joyce Johonnet. In 1991, while under the Johonnets’ ownership, the property was surveyed as part of the widening of the intersection of NH Route 101 and Wallace Road. At the time of the survey, the property consisted merely of the modified schoolhouse with attached ell and Dr. Lewis’s detached shed at the southeast corner of the property. The portion of the property that would eventually contain a large commercial wing was described in 1991 as “brush.” The projecting bay was present on the north elevation. The ell had a second entrance on the south elevation, where today the commercial wing is attached. The shed was described as being “vacant and in poor condition.” Since the 1991 survey, the building has changed owners and undergone extensive renovations and expansion.
David Johonnet, Dylan Cruess, and Nighthawk Realty
In 1996, David Johonnet acquired the property. He then sold the property to Dylan R. Cruess in 2001, who in turn sold it to the current owner, Nighthawk Realty, LLC in 2004. Historic aerials indicate that the massive expansion of the building to include the commercial wing facing NH Route 101 occurred under Nighthawk Realty’s ownership. The commercial expansion on the lot followed a trend of commercial development along NH Route 101 during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including the shopping center across NH Route 101 to the southeast and the strip mall to the northwest at the intersection of Bedford Center Road and NH Route 101. Today the commercial wing houses three retail businesses: Blowin’ Smoke, Cupcakes 101, and Stone River Outfitters.