In April 1857, the trustees of School Section #2, Moore petitioned Moore Township Council for a by-law authorizing them to borrow up to $500 for the construction of a “common school house”. The trustees were David Cronkite, Mitchel Bazo and John Courtney Sr. The by-law was passed, taxes collected and a building erected. This small frame building, however, was used only until 1867, when a new two-storey wooden school building was constructed. The old school was moved to Courtright, where it served as the parish hall for St. Stephen’s Anglican Church.
The upper floor of the 1867 building housed the first and second forms (grades 1 to 4) and the lower floor the third and fourth forms (grades 5 to 8). For the first year after its construction, this Mooretown School served as the township hall, but the municipal offices were moved to the more central location of Moore Centre after that time.
On February 28, 1942, this 2-storey wooden schoolhouse was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire was not determined, although it appeared to have started on the main floor. A newspaper report at the time noted that “The efforts of bucket brigades and the chemical fire-fighting equipment of Corunna and Courtright, proved unavailing in control of the fire”. At the time of the fire, the school was also serving as a public hall and as the lodge room for the Odd Fellows Lodge.
To accommodate the classes while the new building was being built, the children were divided among the Sunday School rooms of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Mooretown, and the schools in Corunna and Courtright. The new building, a 2-storey red brick structure, was completed by November 1942. In 1952, a wing was added to create a second classroom. Grades 1 to 4 occupied the room in the original part and grades 5 to 8 the new wing (with windows facing the street). The upper level housed the office.
When consolidation of the township schools took place in 1963, the students were moved to the newly constructed Mooretown Central School next door. Two years later, amalgamation with Courtright School caused student numbers to rise enough that the old school was put back to use. A student from that time recalls that a well-worn path marked the route the students in the old school used to access the gym next door. An addition onto the new school in 1969 created enough space that all students could be houses and the 1942/52 building was retired for use as storage. In the early 1970s, however, it began a new chapter when it was selected as the location for the newly established Moore Museum.
Newspaper clipping – “School at Mooretown is Destroyed by Fire”, 1942. Moore Museum Research collection R1214
Bedggood, Dorothy. “A Century of Education – Original Mooretown School Now St. Stephen’s, Parish Hall”, The Gazette, February 19, 1969.
Moore Township By-law No. 13 of 1857
S. S. #2 Moore typed history. Moore Museum Research Collection R 772