The Castle Haven School

Castle Haven School

Castle Haven School

The Castle Haven Schoolhouse is an outstanding example of a Victorian one-room schoolhouse. It was listed as School #5 in the Neck District of Dorchester County. Built in 1870 by John Anthony LeCompte Radcliffe, owner of nearby Spocott and also the builder of the original Spocott Windmill, the schoolhouse operated from approximately 1871 to 1923. Radcliffe constructed the building on Castle Haven Rd., about ¼ mile from its present location, at a cost of $566.33. He claimed to have lost money on the deal but was committed to the project because he wanted a local school for his children and those of the local community. His son, George L. Radcliffe, a future US Senator, would later attend the school.

The school closed in 1923 when the County reorganized schools, and students were moved to nearby Hudson School. On June 6, 1924, George L. Radcliffe purchased the building and its ½ acre lot, wanting to preserve not only the school he attended but a building constructed by his father. In 1930 Radcliffe had the building moved (left) to the Spocott property, and then in the fall of 1983 the Spocott Windmill Foundation moved it to the Windmill complex, where it has been restored.

Moving the Schoolhouse in 1930

The Spocott Windmill Foundation has collected records and photos of the 53 years the school was in operation. Known teachers at the school included Belle Radcliffe (John’s sister), Mary Wheeler (pictured right), Rita Cator, Sophie Kirwan, and the last teacher, Lena Reid Wilson. We have the recorded remembrances of both Sophie and Lena. They remember a school that housed grades one through eight, with as many as 35 students in the one room. The building was heated by a coal stove, had 3 rows of double desks for individual student work, and included a corner bench and blackboard for work with groups. Separate outhouses were located behind the school, and water had to be obtained from a nearby home. Most children walked to school, some from as far away as 3 miles.

Castle have School class, 1914, with current windmill builder Jim Richardson sitting 4th from right

Castle Haven School class, 1914, with current windmill builder Jim Richardson sitting 4th from right