History of Boyden School
Construction of the South primary school in South Walpole was started in 1854 by Jeremiah Boyden. The building was completed in 1855 at an initial cost of $1,800.
In 1856, James R. Fuller sold to the South School District a tract of land 85 feet x 150 feet on what is now Washington Street. This land is now part of the Boyden School property. The new building was built on this property during 1854 and 1855. This building was built on this property during the years and in 1876 the following recommendation was made by the School Committee at Town Meeting. “At this time Walpole claims no magnificence or special elegance of school buildings, the exception is the primary school room at South Walpole which is in no respect a fit place for a school. We suggest and advise that, as soon as practical, better accommodations be provided at South Walpole in some way, perhaps by raising the building and making other needed repairs.” These kinds of repairs were made and the building was used for many more years.
As found in the Town Report of 1902, the Superintendent of Schools renamed all schools in town from their location, “South School" to names of prominent residents of their district. The South School was renamed “Boyden School" after the six men in the Boyden family who contributed so much to its construction.
At a Special Town Meeting in October of 1929 it was voted to appoint a committee of five to consider the advisability of building a new schoolhouse in South Walpole. "This has been recommended by the School Committee, to be rebuilt or entirely renovated. The present building at this location is the oldest building in town used for school purposes, having been erected in 1855. Although it was renovated somewhat about ten years ago, it is impossible to make anything like a modern building of it."
Sketches for the new South Walpole school building were accepted at the annual Town Meeting in February of 1930. It was also voted that the selectmen dispose of the Boyden School in South Walpole at such time and upon such conditions as they may determine are for the best interest of the town.
From School Committee Report of December 1930:
If we may believe those who should know, a most serviceable and up-to-date building has been erected in South Walpole. It is large enough to accommodate 100% increase in enrollment of pupils. It contains all the elements of a modern school, laid out by architects who are specialists in schoolhouse construction. It was build with the needs of the community in mind.
The building contains three classrooms, a playroom with a stage, a kitchen, a nurse’s room and a teachers’ room, in addition to the usual toilets and storage. It is heated by oil. The appropriation was sufficient to put in the necessary walks and grading, this part of the work being done by the town highway department at what we believe to be considerable saving in cost. Since the old building had come to have considerable sentimental value in the thoughts of the people in that vicinity, the bell which had tolled pupils to school there for eighty years was salvaged and mounted on the new structure. Beyond that there was little except memory that could be saved when the old school was taken down. The shrinkage in enrollment at South Walpole has continued, and there are but 45 pupils there at present. At this time only 2 pupils are bused to Boyden School.
Due to an increase in population in the South Walpole area, a new wing was added in 1963 which has been used along with the 1930 wing to this day.
In 1979, the bell, which through the years had ceased to toll, was restored and made workable again, tolling children to and from school each day.
In 1981, with the enrollment declining again, the School Committee found it necessary to close Boyden School along with two other schools in town and merge with the two remaining elementary schools. The Walpole Historical Commission attempted to have the bell moved to the old Town Hall on Main Street. "We hope the Commission is successful in this endeavor. Many of us look forward to hearing it toll out memories of Boyden School in the future."
From 1981 to 1988, Boyden School was closed and used for a private school for disturbed boys. In 1988, it was voted to reopen Boyden School. A new gymnasium and updated cafeteria were added and renovations were done to all of the rooms.
Boyden School reopened its doors to the children of South Walpole in September 1990. Boyden School was again renovated in 2005 – with a new Media Center, office area, and renovations to the 1930 wing and the 1960’s wing, along with 12 new classrooms.
In 2006, the Boyden School bell came crashing down to the ground during a windstorm while school was in session. Currently, Boyden School has an enrollment of approximately 465 students.
Each passing day brings additional history and tradition to this proud school. Boyden School is affectionately known as the “Grandfather” of the Walpole Public Schools.