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Record 125/301
Sketch of Masonic Building, 1840. "In 1819 the heirs of Reverend Jonas Clarke deeded part of their land to John Augustus and that deed included the land the Masonic Building stand upon. He in turn deeded 1/2 acre to the "Trustees of the Lexington Academy" for the purpose of erecting an academy and for such other purposes as the said Trustees and their successors shall think best to promote the designs of the institution." Their Charter from the State in 1822 was "for the purpose of promoting religion and morality and for the education of youth in such of the liberal arts and sciences as the Trustees for the time being shall direct." This is the building they erected. The second floor contained a large hall with fireplaces. So for some few years Lexington had one of the regular academies which dotted New England 100 years ago. It apparently did not prove a financial success, for in 1833 the Trustees sold the property include one cast iron stove and pipe for Austin Chittenden. He used the building for awhile in connection with his clock-making business. Then in 1835 Chittenden sold the property to Timothy P. Ropes and Samuel Stetson and they started the "Lexington Manual Labor Seminary." It proposed to blend useful instruction and innocent recreation with habits of in and profitable labor, to furnish youth with agreeable exercise; to make them acquainted with the use of mechanical tools and with mechanical operations also with horticultural pursuits. Thus one of the very earliest experiments in industrial education was tried out in this building. In 1839 this building became the first public normal school in America. The building was completely remodelled inside, the basement into kitchen and dining room, the first floor was the model school, where the future school teachers tried out their instructions on the children of the Town, the second floor was the school room for the teachers-to-be, and these young ladies lived on the third floor. The normal school was moved to Newton in 1844. For a short period there was a sort of day school in the building, then it was remodelled into tenements and a group of Irish families lived in it, and for a short time there was a store on the street floor. In 1868 the Hancock Congregational Church was organized. They purchased this property and at a total expense of about $8,000 remodelled it for Church purposes, and here they remained until 1893 (picture shows building as it looked about 1840)."
Lantern Slides -Masonic building, circa 1840 -Cary Memorial Library 2016. All rights reserved.
Masonic Building

The Edwin B. Worthen Collection, Cary Memorial Library

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Last modified on: March 22, 2016