The Hulls Cove Schoolhouse
by Stetson Carter, Paul DeVore
& Terry Sosa
The Great Fire of '47 destroyed much of the early architecture of Mount Desert Island, so it is a stroke of fate that the grand old Schoolhouse overlooking Hulls Cove remains intact. It replaced a smaller schoolhouse erected in 1863 by Capt. Jonathan I. Stevens on land that he donated "as a token of affection for the place of his nativity," to which he added: "Only an educated people can remain free." The current structure was built in 1909 in response to a familiar problem—overcrowding. A journalist wrote in The Bar Harbor Record on February 17, 1909, that there would be 45 or 46 students in the upcoming year, and asked: "Where are we going to put them? There is hardly room now for the teacher to get off the platform. The seats extend down on either side of the stove so that part of the scholars are roasting while those in the back of the room are freezing." A special town meeting approved a budget of $9,500 and the new Schoolhouse was completed in time for the resumption of classes in the fall of 1909—and was $751.53 under budget.
Just as the Schoolhouse of 1909 followed the old Stevens Schoolhouse into educational service, so it later replaced the older structure as a center of community functions. It was retired from school service after World War II. From that era until the present it has been maintained by a board of community volunteers who schedule and oversee activities, plan repairs and improvements, and raise funds from many sources—including town grants, private gifts of money and materials, and donations collected at events. These events have grown in number and variety in recent years and now include numerous potluck suppers, contra dances, concerts, weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties each year, in addition to popular annual celebrations such as The Wayback Ball and The Longest Night.
Though basically sound, the Schoolhouse had begun to suffer from age and deferred maintenance in recent decades. Since the mid-90's the Directors have renovated the great 24-pane windows, refinished the gym-sized floor, re-plastered the interior and replaced the roof and siding shingles—carefully maintaining the original 1909 patterning. Not too long ago, it was crowned by a replica of the original weathervane, donated by a local craftsman and installed by the Fire Department. The Hulls Cove Schoolhouse is now listed on both the Maine and the National Register of Historic Places.