For Whom The Bell Tolls

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Hampton Academy Bell Will Ring Again

Special to the Atlantic News

Atlantic News, Friday, June 17, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

The Hampton Academy bell

Hampton Academy 1859 bell
[Atlantic News
photo by John Hirtle]

HAMPTON -- The bell on the front lawn of the Hampton Academy is the "Hampton Academy Bell" of Hampton's first secondary school, which existed from 1859 until 1940, when the building was auctioned off and sold for $200 and razed, to make room for the new Hampton Academy building.

Generations of students were called to their classes by the ringing of this old bell. And now, after years of silence, the bell will ring once again on Friday, June 24 as the 2004-05 school year draws to a close and members of the Class of 2005 prepare to graduate.

The original Academy building was originally on the grounds of the Meeting House Green adjacent to the Tuck Memorial Museum, when on August 29, 1851, the Academy building burned to the ground from some unknown cause. Funds were solicited and a new building completed.

On March 1, 1881, a committee of trustees was chosen to buy land and move the building. Christopher G. Toppan donated an acre of land well situated between the two main beach roads, namely, High Street and Winnacunnet Road.

The building was raised from its old foundations and placed on two long wooden stringers kept in place by cross timbers and heavy chain cables borrowed from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were made fast to the stringers with eighty yoke of oxen attached to them.

Several pair of horses were hitched ahead to lead the way. Everything was in readiness when on the morning of January 22nd, 1883, Morris Hobbs, who was in charge of the move, addressed the teamsters, 'Now all together, GO!'

Seventeen minutes had elapsed since it left its old home half a mile distant and now it stood on its new site (on Academy Avenue) amid the jubilant towns people.

On September 14, 1885, the school opened under the new name of Hampton Academy & High School with Jack Sanborn, of Hampton Falls, as principal. The first class was graduated in 1887, and in the summer of 1937, held their 50th anniversary reunion at the Whittier Inn.

1859 - 1940

The Hampton Academy Trustees, in conjunction with the Hampton Academy Junior High Administration, and the Hampton School District School Board, cordially invites the public to gather on the front lawn of the Hampton Academy Jr. High School at 1:45 pm on June 24, 2005, when members of the Hampton Academy Trustees will deliver remarks on the history of the Academy and the Bell.

The Hampton Academy school bell will again be heard across the town, when Ms. Laurel Weatherby, Student Council President of Hampton Academy, will ring the bell to herald the end of the school year for the graduating class of 2005.