Jellerson School

The building we know as Jellerson School House was built in 1850 half way down Center’s Point Road. In 1910, having been moved by oxen to its present site, Jellerson  was newly refurbished and boasted 10 students with Hortense Cannon as their teacher. In 1946 it was closed ‘for lack of pupils’ after serving the students of East Bowdoinham for almost 100 years. Jellerson was home to the Rod and Gun Club- hosting meetings and programs, workdays and suppers- from 1956 until the late 1970s. In 1987 the building and land were transferred to the Bowdoinham Historical Society.

Work to save the little building was begun several times in the years that followed only to fail as the Historical Society experienced periods of inactivity.  Finally in 2010, a group of interested people met at the old school to assess the situation at this last of Bowdoinham’s one room schools. It was pretty bad. But there was enthusiasm, so the rest of that year saw work parties, culminating in stabilizing the building as Steve Hooper, Steve Cox, and others volunteered work on the underpinnings.  Itching to move ahead, Tom DeForeeset and Chet Gillis started installing floor joists and subfloor in July 2011. This inspired Chet,  Leslie Anderson and Betsy Steen to to scrape and paint the exterior. Suddenly interest blossomed. Donations, fundraisers, and a grant from Bowdoinham 250th Committee, helped financially, and by November,  Jellerson had a totally new roof structure. What came to be known as the ‘The Jellerson Crew’ Tom, Chet, Sam & Bob Stetson, Leslie, and Betsy began regular Tuesday morning work mornings which often stretched into the afternoon and to other days. In December Tom agreed to lead the task of replacing the lost shed as a Merrymeeting Bay Museum. The basic structure was completed and buttoned up for winter by early January 2012. Work began again in March 2012. Windows refurbished over the winter, were put in. Clapboarding and trim were finished and painted.  After drywall was installed in April, Len Pelletier volunteered to complete the ‘mudding’. In late June Albert Stehle gave his time to recreate the chimney. Meanwhile the interior was painted and the ceilings and floors installed by the faithful Jellerson crew. On August 14 we moved in our antique desks, followed by the stove. The next two weeks saw finishing touches including raising the original flag pole refurbished by Chet Gillis.

On September 14, 2012 a crowd of nearly 100, including six former Jellerson scholars, watched as the flag was raised and former Jellerson student and teacher Erla Browne Kelley cut the ribbon and rang the old bell. Jellerson School, representative of all Bowdoinham’s 18 one room schools,  was rededicated to the children of Bowdoinham, in memory of all the children who learned there and all the teachers who taught them, in the hope that today’s children in experiencing the past at Jellerson will come to love and cherish our history.

So in 2013 the little building stands crisp and bright awaiting its first class of students in almost 70 years. The initials carved in 1895 still adorn the hall.  Desks are lined up.  Antique school books, some actually used in Jellerson in years past, await small hands and eager minds as we move to the exciting task of putting Jellerson to good use. We envision classes coming to experience a one room school or learn about Merrymeeting Bay’s role in history.  We see a place for meetings and events, for learning and sharing and community.

We must end with huge thanks to the many, many people, businesses, and organizations who have contributed to this venture giving money, materials, time and/ or expertise.  PLEASE FORGIVE US IF WE HAVE LEFT OUT ANYONE!!


CORE CREW: 2011-2012 

                They made it happen!


Tom DeForeest 

Sam Stetson

Bob Stetson 

Chet Gillis 

Leslie Anderson 

Betsy Steen


Many Volunteer Hours

Mike Egan - Tree Removal

Steve Hooper and Crew - Foundation

Lennie Pelletier - Joint Cementing

Buster Prout - Painting 

Al Stehle - Chimney 

Doug Tourtelotte - Grading


Special Funding

250th Birthday Steering Committee 

            & William B. Kendall Century Fund

Merrymeeting Bay Trust


Donations of time, materials, school items, expertise, money, fundraising help: 

  • Lara Ashouwak
  • Marion Bagley
  • Elizabeth Barrett & John Frumer 
  • Jeanine Beaudoin
  • Jake Bishop
  • Bishop School
  • Nora Bishop 
  • Bruce Bickford
  • James Brawn
  • Susan Brown
  • Steve Bunn
  • Frank & Jane Connors
  • Steve Cox
  • Tony Cox
  • Nan Curtis
  • John Curtis
  • Betty DeForeest
  • Mike Delyra
  • Wayne Dorr
  • Sylvia Edmondson
  • John Favreau
  • Sarah Browne Findley
  • Jen Foley
  • Ed Friedman
  • Margo Frost & Jack Curley
  • Jeanne & Chet Gillis
  • Reggie Lebel
  • Hammond Lumber
  • Hancock Lumber
  • Sandy & Russ Hickey
  • Bev Hughes
  • Matt Jennings
  • Kathy & Ryan Jennings
  • Lou & Pat MacNeill
  • Errol & Patty Melander
  • Robert Miner
  • Loy Mitchell
  • Glenna Morin
  • Billie Oakes
  • Bridget Palmer
  • Betty Pellitier
  • David Piccuito
  • 250 Quilt Artists
  • Lynne Sanford
  • Sarah Stapler
  • Lynn Spiro
  • Calvin Temple
  • Denham Ward and Debbie Lipscomb
  • Diane Waters Memorial Donations
  • Lisa Wesel
  • Daphne White
  • Todd Woofenden


Our Contractors:

Steve Hooper: Superstructure

Joe Prout: Roof

Andy Bouchard: Drywall

Dick Spaulding: Electrical

David White: Floor Finish