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From the Archives: The History of Schoolhouse
Greg Kwasnik

On a campus studded with iconic buildings, perhaps none is more recognizable than Schoolhouse. Built in the style of a classic one-room schoolhouse, the red building on the northern edge of the Quad is not only Holderness School’s oldest building (dating back to 1881) but it has housed classrooms for the entirety of its 141-year history.
This fall, students walking to class in Schoolhouse have paused to admire a historical display detailing that history. Created by School Archivist Dr. Jennifer Martinez, the display includes historical photos of Schoolhouse – a 1907 snapshot of the school’s football team posing in front of the building is particularly captivating – as well as school calendars from the 1940s and 1950s that feature student and faculty artwork of the building.
We recently sat down to chat with Dr. Martinez - a historian with a PhD in Classics and Ancient History from the University of Liverpool - about Schoolhouse, what it’s like to be the school’s archivist, and her love of history.
So what inspired you to create this display about the history of Schoolhouse?
It was one of the pictures I have on the wall of the archives, a panoramic one. I've been staring at it for far too long in here. Whenever I bring the classes here, the students are like, "So that's campus. Look, Webster's not there!" And it's always kind of a conversation starter. So I thought, "Well, I shouldn't be the only one staring at this. The kids love it." And people could look at the campus in a new light. So it started from that picture. So I thought, "Well, maybe we can do a Schoolhouse through the ages, because it's changed so much." At first, it used to be a cream-colored building, and now it's red, and there have been additions [most recently in 1998]. So many students pass through Schoolhouse, and I thought it would be nice. It's just one of our oldest buildings that we have on campus. It's just exciting to bring it a little bit back to life through photos and memories.
There are several calendars in the display, too, with prints of Schoolhouse and other buildings on campus.
The calendars are interesting, because the art in them was created by students and faculty from the Art Department at the time [1948, 1947, 1957, and 1958] so it's kind of a personal reflection on what they saw around campus. And I just tried to look for Schoolhouse in different calendars, and those I thought would be interesting for the students to see.
What else does the school have in its archives?
A lot. I mean, I’m still trying to come to grips with everything. We have a lot of campus-related materials like early publications and photographs , but also a lot of artwork, like the Herbert Waters wood prints – they’re a big staple of the collection because we have so many of them and it’s nice that we almost work as a repository for his artwork. So it’s interesting that we have a large collection of them. The yearbooks date back to 1940, and I’ve just been keeping them up-to-date in here. But interestingly enough, when the students come here the yearbooks are the go-to, that's what they like to see. They like to see the old images and the descriptions that the kids gave themselves at the time, the students, and just kind of comparing the buildings. And they’re also interested in faculty members. Looking for Mr. Ford [Duane Ford ‘74] they were like “Where is he?! Where is he?!”

In addition to serving as the school’s archivist, you also teach Foundations of Modern Society and Senior Capstone. Do you often bring your students to the archives?  
For my classes, I bring them down. Last year I brought the AP European History students. For the AP European History class, we had covered the Holocaust, and we've got some artwork in there from Samuel Bak, and he was a Holocaust survivor. So I pulled out those two artworks, and there is artwork upstairs as well, which has a local connection dedicated in memory of Otto Ninow, who was a Holocaust survivor, and he was kind of a big figure in the area. And he had this kind of really harrowing story, but it's just making connections with the themes that we cover in class, so that the students know that there are some local connections.
Outside of your work for Holderness, you’re a cultural Greek historian who studies the pre- and post-war lived experiences of women in the ancient world. What drew you to the study of history?
When I was little, I thought I was going to be an astronaut. And then I learned that you have to know a lot of math and stuff like that. But I find people so fascinating throughout societies - our differences, our similarities, and how we coexist in civilization. That's one of the things that drew me to the ancient past, and just history in general. We’re a social species, and we have to coexist with other people. The past has always been a passion of mine.

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