Grant to Give Brick School A Facelift and Future

The Brick School House, built in 1827, remains the oldest standing public brick building in Hancock County. According to Herbert L. Silsby’s “The History of Aurora,” in which this photo appears, the first teacher was Silsby’s own grandfather, Herbert T. Silsby. “He was 6-4 and 250 pounds,” Silsby said. “He was tough, and he could call a class to order.”

You can’t go too far in Aurora before coming upon place names that reflect the town’s earliest settlers. Silsby Hill and Silsby Plain honor Samuel Silsby Jr. as Aurora’s first homesteader. Samuel Silsby arrived in 1805 to work near his brother, Goodell Silsby, who had set up a mill in neighboring Amherst in 1903.

Giles Road was also named after the family that settled in the early 1800s near what was later named Giles Pond.

Drawn to the area for its rolling hills covered in forest, Aurora’s first settlers arrived before 1810. By 1827, when the town needed a school, the Brick School House was built.

Today, that school house has the distinction as the oldest standing public brick building in Hancock County. It’s also getting fresh attention.

At the town’s annual meeting last month, residents learned that one of the selectmen, Bill Zissulis, is pursuing a grant for $77,000 that would help restore the building. Getting the grant involves 20 percent matching money from the town, so voters approved putting $15,400 toward the project, if the $77,000 grant comes through.

What would happen, Zissulis said, is that the building would be dismantled and rebuilt. It would be turned into a public library while retaining the original brickwork.

Work on the building would not start before 2003.