The Boardman School is typical of the many rural district schools in 19th-century New England. Pupils attending this school were required to study reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and geography. Depending on the school, more advanced pupils might be taught algebra, Latin, or French.
By the middle of the 19th century, one-room schoolhouses like this one were coming under attack for being inefficient and outmoded. In 1882 this school was described as “A backward one, and the house poor. The blackboard is too small to be of much use.” Another Connecticut town official commented: “Many of our school houses are in a miserable condition, possessing less attraction outwardly than our prisons while within they are dark, gloomy and comfortless. They are all destitute of an appearance of any outhouse.”
The Boardman School, named for the family whose land adjoined the school property, may have been built as early as 1765 in the town of Preston, Connecticut. When the North School Society of Preston, which included Boardman School, split off to form the town of Griswold in 1815, Boardman School became Griswold’s District Seven School and the building served as a classroom for six generations of Connecticut children.
A number of the desks, the wood stove, and the blackboard came with the school when it was moved to its present location here at Mystic Seaport in 1949.