Although long identified with Ayer, Sandy Pond Schoolhouse was originally built by the Town of Groton. When the schoolhouse was built in 1868-69, there was no Ayer. Indeed what is today Ayer was then known as Groton Junction, a burgeoning railroad hub.
The new schoolhouse was a replacement for the existing Groton School District #11 schoolhouse, and the 4th such building on the site. It was much needed, its predecessor having been repeatedly described as "unfit" by an extremely frustrated Groton School Committee, which had failed in 3 previous attempts to obtain funding for a new building.
In 1868, the Committee made a 4th attempt, one employing extremely forceful rhetoric, and this proved to be the charm. For this time the Selectmen took action. The old school was taken down, a new one constructed, and in 1869 payments of $1,357.56 were disbursed for the construction of what, in due course, became known as Sandy Pond Schoolhouse.
Today Sandy Pond Schoolhouse is one of only two extant single room schoolhouses in the former Groton township. It became part of the Ayer school system in 1871 when Groton Junction separated from Groton, creating the new Town of Ayer.
Given its distance from town centers, this was always a small school. Average attendance was fewer than 25 students per year for the duration of the building’s use. Enrollment prior to its closing in 1906 was 18 students. After graded schools were established in downtown Ayer, this was the only ungraded school where students from multiple grades had their classes in one room under one teacher.
As the population grew and separation into primary, intermediate, and high schools became the standard, the Ayer School Committee consistently recommended closing Sandy Pond School and transporting students to downtown Ayer via the railroad using the nearby Willows junction stop. Parents of younger students, however, objected to this proposal on the grounds that the train’s limited schedule would mean a very long day involving an early morning departure and late return home.
In 1906, the Lowell and Fitchburg Street Railway constructed a trolley line from North Chelmsford to downtown Ayer along Sandy Pond Road. The arrival of the trolley provided the School Committee with a consolidation solution. Beginning that year, Sandy Pond School was closed, and its students transported via trolley to schools in downtown Ayer, marking the end of the single room school era in Ayer.
Sandy Pond Schoolhouse Today
The Schoolhouse 27 July 1894