Needham History Center & Museum

Schoolhouse Programs

The 1850 Schoolhouse Day

For Needham’s third graders, Fall is Back to School time – way back, as in 1850. Instead of Writer’s Workshop and hands-on science, they struggle with ciphering, elocution, and the inky mysteries of the quill pens. Instead of Morning Meeting, they greet their teacher with a bow or a curtsey.

Our popular 1850 Schoolhouse Day started in 2007, the year after we opened our new facility and had a genuine Needham one-room schoolhouse as the setting. The Schoolhouse Day takes the class through an authentic one-room school day, with lessons in reading, arithmetic, memorization, elocution, and penmanship. The class meets in the Needham History Center & Museum’s Upper Falls Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse, built in 1842, is Needham’s only surviving one-room school. It is now part of the Society’s complex on Central Avenue. The School Day was developed jointly by the Needham History Center & Museum and the Needham Public Schools, and was funded by a grant from the Needham Education Foundation.

The 1850 Schoolhouse Day supplements the third grade history curriculum. By putting themselves into the past instead of just reading about it, the children gain a better understanding of history, and of the Town they live in. As one child put it, “It was fun going into the past and seeing what it looked like and seeing why they lived this way.”


From Daisies and Cubs, through Eagle Scouts and Gold Awards, the Needham History Center welcomes Scouts for visits, workshops, and projects. Sometimes we are also a clubhouse

Schoolhouse interior with children