It took more than a year to rebuild a piece of Casco’s history, but members of the Raymond/Casco Historical Society say their efforts were well worth the time.

On Sunday, the Historical Society will hold an open house from noon to 3 p.m. at its new one-room schoolhouse on Route 302, next to the Historical Society’s museum.

The Quaker Ride Schoolhouse has been renovated since a fire in 2018 destroyed it. Courtesy of Louise Lester

The schoolhouse will resemble the former building, which was destroyed in an April 2018 arson, but gone will be the artifacts that were stored there. Lost in the fire were a trove of valuable artifacts, including historic books, desks and maps dating back as far as the 1700s.

While members have tried to replace those artifacts with other antiques, Frank McDermott, president of the Historical Society, said many things were irreplaceable. One of the destroyed items was a proclamation announcing George Washington’s election as president.

“It was an awful loss,” he said. “We lost things that can never be replaced.”

McDermott said the new schoolhouse is a replica of the Old Quaker Ridge Schoolhouse – formerly known as the Friends School. Quaker Ridge Schoolhouse, which was built in 1849, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The new schoolhouse has been removed from the register and constructed in a way that will make it easier to maintain. McDermott said that it will have a metal roof and vinyl siding, features that should make it easier for the Historical Society’s aging members to care for.

The 2018 fire took place just months before the Historical Society was going to move the schoolhouse next to its history museum on Route 302 in Casco.

It was envisioned as a living history site, where visitors, particularly children, could experience what life was like in a one-room schoolhouse. That still remains the long range goal. The Quaker Ridge Schoolhouse was built by Clark Norton Maxfield, a son of one of the first settlers in the area, which was known as Quaker Hill or Quakerville.

“It’s wonderful to have it back,” said Rose Andrews, curator of the Historical Society’s museum. “It looks very much like the old building.”

The new schoolhouse was built using insurance money from the fire, private donations and a $26,000 contribution from the town of Casco, Andrews said. The former schoolhouse was located on Route 121 in Casco Village near the town office.

Soon after the fire took place, authorities arrested two Casco men and charged them with arson. Charged were 22-year-old Devin Richardson-Gurney and 20-year-old Edward Scott. During their initial court appearance, their lawyers told Judge Lance Walker that their clients are intellectually disabled.

Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck said Tuesday night that the men were initially charged with felony arson and aggravated criminal mischief, but his office downgraded those charges to the misdemeanor crimes of failure to control or report a fire and criminal mischief.

Both men pled guilty and were sentenced to 364 days in jail, with most or all of that time suspended. Richardson-Gurney did not serve any time; Scott served 30 days in jail.

Both men were placed on probation for two years and are prohibited from having contact with each other. They are also prohibited from entering town property or Historical Society property.

Sahrbeck said his office sought restitution for the damage they caused, but the presiding judge waived restitution because he felt neither man had the ability to pay.

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