Gale School Constructed 1894
Gale School was constructed by Cyris Norris for the Town of Belmont in 1894. It was later named Gale School after Napoleon B. Gale who left 10, 000 to the Town. Mr. Gale was born in 1815 at his father's farm on Mile Hill Road, and was for years prominent in banking circles in Laconia, NH. The remainder of Mr. Gale's estate was left to the city of Laconia and used to construct and fund the Gale Memorial Library. Mr. Gale represented Belmont Residents in the State Legislature during 1867 and 1868.
In 1845, there were 33 school districts in the town of Gilmanton. In 1859, when Belmont divided from Gilmanton there were 12 school districts. At this time there were no grades in schools, and each student was instructed at the level and subject they could handle. Tax collectors collected school tax from each district, and the operational budgets in each school district varied considerably resulting in some school districts being able to afford good instructors, and longer school sessions.
Until 1887 the town*s schools were overseen by individuals called the Superintending School Committee which consisted of one person. This was filled by Lowell French for many years, and later by John Sargent. In 1890, twenty weeks of school were conducted, and by 1898 a third or Winter term was added to most districts.
Gale School Winter Scene
In 1898 a new school house was constructed to replace the Bennett and Clay schools. This school was named Plumer School after Joseph Plumer who had served on the School Board since its origination. Shortly after the neighborhood schools continued to disappear from existence. Belmont*s one room school houses closed one by one as their need diminished. The Jamestown School House closed in 1912, Union in 1923, Upper Province Road in 1928, Ladd Hill in 1932, Plumer in 1939, and the last, Lower Province Road in 1942. .
Mrs. Agnes Moulton has the distinction of being the last teacher at both the Plumer and Lower Province Road schools, and consequently the last person to teach in a one room school house in Belmont. By 1913, school districts were operating at thirty-six weeks, and the budgets had substantially increased.
Gale School Classes
Few students in the 19th century went to school past the grammar school level, and most felt they were lucky enough to have covered the three R*s. It was rare to be a high school or academy graduate, more rare than it is to be a college graduate today. This was primarily do to the expense of attending advanced schools, and often when a child was old enough to provide for the family, he or she would be expected to do so. Those who did attend, usually ended up teachers, lawyers or clergymen. Belmont residents traditionally attended Gilmanton Academy, Tilton Seminary, Gilford Academy or Laconia High School. The town was responsible for the tuition of students choosing to attend higher education. The family was responsible for transportation, books, and room and board.
Belmont High Constructed 1937
Todays Belmont Middle School
Many students rushed to the train depot early in the mornings to catch the train to Tilton. In 1924 it was voted to add a ninth grade to the second floor of the Gale School. In 1927, the seventh and eighth grade class rooms were partitioned to allow for more room for the high school. The first Belmont High School Graduate was Kenneth F. Muzzey on June 7, 1928, and he was the only student to graduate this particular year.
The High School was finally constructed in 1937, as many wanted their children to get a higher education at this time. In 1955, the Memorial School was constructed for grades one through three. The Gale School at this time was being used for the Administrative Offices, the School Nurse, and Secondary Art on the upper level.
Sketch of 1971 Addtions to Belmont High School
Todays Belmont Middle School
During the construction of the Memorial School the soil from the site was transferred to the top of the hill behind the Gale School. It was used to create a ball field for Belmont's youth. Instrumental in this was Leigh and Verne Bryant. Verne had served on the School Board since the District's origination, and Leigh had been a custodian of school properties at the time. Shortly, after the death of Verne in 1975, the School District named the Belmont Ball Field, Bryant Field. By 1960, another space problem was encountered at the High School, and classrooms, an auditorium and gymnasium were added. During the 1970- 71*school year, Canturbury students grades nine through twelve started attending Belmont High School, and by 1972 became a part of the school district permanently. Growth throughout Belmont schools continued at a steady pace, and in 1971 a cafeteria and additional classrooms were added to the High School (shown above).
Belmont Elementary School
In 1985, the Belmont Elementary School was constructed on Gilmanton Road (State Route 140 East), the use of the Gale School ceased operation being used for cold storage. The new High School on Seavey Road was constructed in 1997, therefore the *Old* High School became the *New* Belmont Middle School, and the Memorial School became the office's of the Shaker Regional School District.
Belmont High School
Many patrons of Belmont have shown a great deal of interest in the Gale School Building over the years. It appears to be a monument in which many past and present citizens seem to remember most about Belmont. For each person the Gale School has its own special meaning, whether its a past teacher, good times with friends, a walk to school, a memory of our youth, or simply an appreciation of fine architecture and craftsmanship.
Early Gale School
This monumental building has stood tall upon the hill educating Belmont's youth nearly 100 years, watching over the town and its people. Today this great structure stands alone as it once had in 1894, except now empty without the joy and laughter of todays youth. It has overlooked the progress of the Shaker Regional School District, that itself, had originally created.
Information Compiled by: Diane Marden (2006)