October 27, 2021

Save the Town of Rehoboth Historic Anawan School


It is a sad time for our town to lose a town building like Anawan School. I’m sure by now many of you have heard that our town selectmen are preparing to have it torn down. I will never understand why the selectmen past and present have consistently allowed a well-built town building to deteriorate the way it has. It’s been going on for years. Do you think if anyone of the selectmen personally owned that building that they would have let it deteriorate that way? I don’t think so. If any of the selectmen from the 1920’s where still alive I bet they would give the current selectmen an ear full. All the hard work they had to do to get that passed to taxpayers to fund this School. What a shame!

This building started construction in the late 1920’s and was finished in 1930. In those days they built buildings like this that would last for years not just 91 years. If this building was taken care of it could have lasted another 100 yrs. And there is still a chance to save. I have worked out of a central fire house that was built the same year, it was the same type of construction, steel frame and brick and it still looks great and solid as a rock. Sadly, they have made up their minds. It’s slated for demolition. The inside is a mess and whose fault is that? But still all of that can be replaced. The steel frame and brick are still in place. It’s not going anywhere unless it’s knocked down. The well issues can also be fixed. All of these things can be fixed.

As a member of the Rehoboth Historical Commission, it’s my job to identify and protect historical assets within our town. And this is one. Anawan school was one of the first centralized schools built after all of our 15 one room schools closed down. When Buses came into the picture in the late 1920’s children no longer had to walk long distances to school. That in itself is historical.

Over the years we wanted to patch the roof with professional roofing contractors willing to donate their time. But the selectmen would not let us. Even now we want to hire a structural engineer to check the building to make sure it is still structurally sound. They had the building inspector and the fire chief check out the building and they felt that it was not worth saving. But with all due respect I don’t think they are structural engineers.

We are willing to use CPC funds to do it so it would not cost the taxpayers a dime. We could renovate the school, make it handicap accessible all with CPC funds.

The Community Preservation Committee Reviews Proposals for expenditure of the Community Preservation Act funds. The funds are allocated to historic preservation, affordable housing, the preservation of open space, and recreation. All of this is in line of what we are trying to do.

I suggested to the selectmen that we could make it into a Library. It looks like one. Or we could use Anawan School as a community center, or community health center. We could expand the children’s playground and farmer’s market. We could put in a couple of small paddocks for farm animals to see and to pet. Isn’t that who we are, a right to farm community. Wouldn’t that be a nice place for families to bring their children. We could call it Anawan park, or whatever.

I hope more people in town feel the same way that some of us do. Let the town and the selectmen know how you feel. Let’s try to save our Historic Anawan School.

Mark P Canuel
Historical Commission


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