HomeNewsHistoryDid the Bear Hill School Succumb to Fire?

Did the Bear Hill School Succumb to Fire?

Published on

In the article Where do you Live? The Origin of Hopkinton’s Street Names, we wrote that the Bear Hill School, which sat at the intersection of Pond and School streets, burned down in the 1950’s. This inspired reader Peter C. Redding to comment that it was “hard to believe that the school house at the corner of Pond and School Streets burned down in 1950 since we had neighborhood gatherings at the school house all during the 50’s.

This caused some confusion at HopNews and the Historical Society, because of this article in Digital Commonwealth, which cited that it had burned in the 1950’s.

It turns out Mr. Redding is correct. The Bear Hill School was alive and well in the 1950’s – after having been rebuilt from a fire in the 1930’s.

Last winter, reader (and chair of the School Committee) Nancy Richards-Cavanaugh researched the history of Hopkinton’s schoolhouses, and she discovered a photo of the Bear Hill schoolhouse from 1934 showing that it was indeed the victim of a fire. The town rebuilt the schoolhouse on the same site. What appears to be the same granite step is still onsite at the intersection of Pond and School streets.

This photo, dated 1934, shows the Bear Hill Schoolhouse after the fire.
The rebuilt schoolhouse. Note the granite step is the same.

A note from Mrs. Richards-Cavanaugh:

My research came from some online sources as well as a report written by Harold Wood in 1960 for the Hopkinton Historical Society, and photos and documents from the Historical Society and the Hopkinton Public Library as well as conversations from lifelong Hopkinton resident Mary Harrington.

The original site for the Bear Hill School #7 was on the west side of Pond Street; the old building was moved over the frozen Lake Whitehall prior to 1860 by a member of the Prentice family, to a new site and used as a home. It burned in 1930.

The Bear Hill School, built around 1860 on the corner of Pond and School Streets, closed as a school in 1932 (District School houses were closing after Center School was opened in 1928).

This school house burned about 1934 and with the insurance money and a small appropriation from the town a new and very similar building was built on the same site (alternatively I found it called the Bear Hill Grange or The Bear Hill Community Center). Around 1936, this new building was voted by Town Meeting for Community use in the Bear Hill area. This building was still standing in 1960 when Mr. Wood wrote his report and from what I could gather it also burned.

Additional photo of the Bear Hill School to show better where it was situated on the lot. This angle is from School Street.
There are 2 large pieces of granite on the site where the Bear Hill School and the Bear Hill Grange were both located. If you look at the granite steps in the photos of both buildings, these appear to be from one or both buildings.

We wish to express our thanks to Mr. Redding and Mrs. Richards-Cavanaugh for providing these crucial historical details. Hopkinton Comes Together!

Latest articles

Catch up with a briefing of the most important and interesting stories from Hopkinton delivered to your inbox.


  1. Would be interested in knowing exactly where the step is at Pond and School St so we install a historical memorial / narrative.

    • I think a historic memorial/narrative is a great idea. The granite steps (there are two) are up toward a small rock wall on the property. There is also a small rock engraved memorial that says “On Memory of Dot Love, Kiddie Group Member, 1956-1994.” I was not able to find out much about Dot, but I’m assuming she was connected to the building as a young child when it was a community center. There is also a very old basketball hoop still there which appears as though it was closer to where the building stood. I have photos I took on the site and am happy to email to you if you want them. Feel free to reach out— my email is nriccav@verizon.net.

      • Dot Love was Dr. Donald Love’s wife and mother of several children. Her daughter, Evelyn, still lives in the house on Pond St.

If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate so in your comment and your name will be changed prior to publishing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

20th Century Homes

More like this