Nute High School & Library Founded

By Muriel Bristol | November 10, 2018

Lewis W. Nute was born in West Milton, NH, February 17, 1820, son of Ezekiel and Dorcas (Worster) Nute. He became a successful Boston leather merchant and shoe manufacturer. He died “at the homestead” on Nute Ridge in West Milton, NH, October 20, 1888. His wife Priscilla (Farrar) Nute had predeceased him in 1886. They are buried together in Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, MA (where the inscribed date is at variance with published obituaries).

LEWIS W. NUTE DEAD. Boston’s Biggest Leather Dealer Expires at His Home. DOVER, N.H. – Sept. 5. – Lewis W. Nute died this morning at the homestead at Milton.

When a young man Mr. Nute went to Boston to work for the leather firm of Potter & Co. He worked there for several years, when he was taken sick and nearly died. When he recovered he found that all his bills were paid and he was a silent partner in the firm. He was considered the best judge of leather in Boston.

Shortly after the name of the firm was changed to Nute, Potter, White, & Bailey. He stayed with them some years, then sold out and went into business himself with an office in Boston and manufactory in Natick, and five years ago he started the shop in Dover (Boston Globe, September 6, 1888).


Lewis W. Nute’s last will provided for the construction and endowment of a high school and library and, separately, a chapel in West Milton. When the various writers speak of the “founding” of these institutions, they mean the legal authorizations, which were accomplished through probation of the will, legislative acts, appointments of trustees, and the formation of boards and committees.

Purchase of land and construction of buildings followed those institutional “foundings.” The completed Nute Chapel was dedicated on October 23, 1890. In subsequent years, the Nute High School celebrated February 15, 1889 as its founding day, although the completed school building opened its doors to students at the same time as the library: September 1891.

(Note that the Milton Classical Institute closed its doors shortly before its successor, the Nute High School and Library, opened theirs).

The Nute High School was founded in 1889, as was the Nute Library, in accordance with the provisions of the will of Lewis Worster Nute, a native of Milton who died in 1888. Among the many worthy benefactions which Mr. Nute bequeathed to his townsmen were the $125,000 for the institution which bears his name, and $50,000 for the public schools. As a result of Mr Nute’s generosity and the praiseworthy interest which Milton people have always had in education, this town has splendid educational facilities, which are second to those of no town of a similar size in New Hampshire.



Section 1. Corporation constituted. 2. Trustees, bequest, etc. 3. Trustees vacancy. 4. Buildings; library; school. 5. Non-sectarian. Section 6. Real estate. 7. May be taken by condemnation. 8. Right of appeal. 9. First meeting. 10. Takes effect when Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened.

Section 1. That Charles H. Moulton, of Waltham, and Henry Cobb, of Newton, both in the county of Middlesex, and John L. Brewster, of Lawrence, in the county of Essex, all in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Joshua G. Hall, of Dover, Eugene P. Nute, of Farmington, Elbridge W. Fox, Charles C. Hayes, Bard B. Plummer, Charles H. Looney, Frank Haley, and Charles A. Jones, all of Milton, in the county of Strafford and State New Hampshire, are hereby made a body corporate, to be, with their successors, known as the Trustees of the Nute High School and Library, to be located at the village of Milton Three Ponds, so called, in the town of Milton. 

Sect. 2. The board of trustees so constituted under the first section of this act shall receive and ever have charge of moneys received and to be received from the estate of Lewis W. Nute, late of Boston, Massachusetts, and expend the capital and income of the same as directed in the will of said Lewis W. Nute. They may also exercise all corporate powers and transact all corporate business necessary to administer the affairs of the Nute High School and Library, and for this purpose may from time to time make such regulations and by-laws, not repugnant to the constitution and laws of the State, for the management of said corporation, as they may deem proper, and also appoint such and so many officers and agents as they may think proper, and prescribe their powers and duties. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum for doing business. 

Sect. 3. The board shall consist of eleven persons, a majority of whom shall be residents of the town of Milton, New Hampshire, and whenever any vacancy occurs by death, resignation, or otherwise, the survivors shall fill the vacancy at the next annual meeting. The removal from town of any trustee resident in Milton is to be considered as a resignation. 

Sect. 4. The corporation is charged with the duty of erecting school and library buildings as set forth in the will of said Lewis W. Nute, and the establishment and support of a high school and library, to be forever free to the inhabitants of the town of Milton; they may also receive by gift, devise, or otherwise, other property for the purpose of said school and library, and hold the same free from taxation, to the amount of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Sect. 5. The principles and precepts of the Christian religion shall be inculcated, but the Nute high school shall not be a denominational or sectarian school.

Sect. 6. Said corporation is empowered to acquire by purchase or otherwise, and hold in fee simple or otherwise, any real and personal estate necessary for carrying into effect the purpose of this act, not exceeding three thousand dollars at the time of acquiring the title thereto. 

Sect. 7. If said corporation shall not be able to secure on satisfactory terms, or the owner thereof shall be unknown, the necessary land upon which to locate said high school and library buildings, the same not to exceed three acres in extent, said corporation may apply to the county commissioners for the county of Strafford, to assess the damage to the owners of such land; and such commissioners shall appoint a time and place of hearing, and give notice thereof in the same manner as is now provided by law for laying out highways, and shall assess and award damages to the owner or owners of such land as are required by said corporation on which to locate said high school and library buildings, which assessment and award shall be in writing and filed in the office of the town clerk of the town of Milton within ten days after the same is completed, and upon payment or tender to the owner of the sum so assessed, the rights so taken shall be vested in said corporation.

Sect. 8. The same rights of appeal from such assessment and award shall exist as in the case of lands taken for highways by the action of said commissioners. 

Sect. 9. The first meeting of the board of trustees may be called by any one of said trustees by a notice in writing, stating the time and place of the meeting, sent by mail to each of the corporators at least one week prior thereto. 

Sect. 10. This act shall take effect upon its passage. 

[Approved August 14, 1889].

Nute Library

The NH State Librarian described the newly-created Nute Library in a general report to the NH State Legislature in 1892:

MILTON. – The Nute Library, 400 volumes. Free.

The Nute Library was opened to the public September, 1891. In 1888, by will of Lewis W. Nute, of Boston, a native of Milton, the town came into possession of $25,000 to be used for erecting a “Nute High School and Library” building, and $100,000 as an endowment. The library occupies a portion of this building.

The library is general. Fiction is the class most in use: except fiction, historical works are most in use. The library is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 P.M. A reading-room in connection with the library is open during the same hours. The total amount of income from the endowment fund is about $5,000. Of this sum $150 are expended yearly for books, and $50 for papers and periodicals.

Librarian, Frank Haley, appointed by the library committee; library committee, Elbridge W. Fox, Frank Haley, of Milton, and Henry E. Cobb, of Newton, Mass., appointed by the board of trustees. At the incorporation of the “Nute High School and Library,” the trustees were named by the town (NH State Librarian, 1892).

Nute High School

Nute High School’s first year was the 1891-92 academic year, which began in September 1891.

In its third year, Nute High School hosted what sounds like a county-wide teachers’ workshop on Tuesday, January 9, 1894.

Teachers’ Institute at Milton, N.H. MILTON, N.H., Jan. 7 – A teachers’ institute for Strafford county will be held here Tuesday at the Nute high school (Boston Globe, January 8, 1894).

The NH State Superintendent of Public Instruction described the number of students and a part of the curriculum in 1894:

Table No. 4. Schools of a Higher Grade (Public Schools) [1894]

The 1894 Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction tabulated Nute High School, in Milton, N.H., as having 1 male teacher, 2 female teachers, 20 male students, 31 female students, 46 students residing in New Hampshire, 51 students pursuing higher branches, 25 students studying ancient languages, 20 students studying modern languages, 900 volumes in the library, a school year beginning in September and lasting 39 weeks, and $35,000 in value of buildings, apparatus, and grounds. William K. Norton was the Principal.

Arthur T. Smith became the Nute High School’s second principal in or around its sixth (1896-97) academic year.

Personals. Arthur Smith, principal of the Nute high school at Milton, paid a visit with friends in this [Portsmouth] city on Monday (Portsmouth Herald, July 26, 1898).

[Dartmouth Class of] 1896

The Boston Herald of February 16 [1901] contains an account of the tenth annual observance of Founder’s Day at the Nute High school, Milton, N.H., of which Arthur Thad Smith is principal. The Herald says:

“The Nute High school was dedicated in 1891, and was the gift of Lewis W. Nute, a millionaire of Boston, to his native town, together with a fund of over $100,000 for its maintenance. The building was erected at a cost of about $40,000, and is a modern edifice, admirably equipped for careful work.

“During the past four years, under the principalship of Mr. Arthur Thad Smith, the membership of the school has nearly doubled, and the educational standard greatly improved. Mr. Smith graduated from Dartmouth in 1896 at the head of his class, having taken prizes and honors in Greek, Philosophy, Chemistry and Oratory, together with the first competitive prize scholarship of his class. He was a member of the D.K.E., Casque and Gauntlet and Phi Beta Kappa fraternities. It was Mr. Smith, who working for the stockholders in the Jernegan gold-from-sea-water swindle, proved the fraud by his work.

“The programme of the evening consisted of musical selections by the Nute High School orchestra of ten pieces, under the leadership of Mr. Smith, vocal and instrumental solos, and orations and essays by members of the school” (The Dartmouth, 1901).

New England Notes. Briefer Items.

Milton, N.H. – The Nute high school celebrated its tenth observance of founder’s day on February 15, with attractive public exercises, consisting of essays and orations, interspersed with selections of music. This school, one of the youngest in the state, built and endowed with a fund of $100,000 as a gift from Mr. Lewis W. Nute, of Boston, has taken an excellent stand as a preparatory school. For the last four years it has been under the charge of Mr. Arthur Thad Smith, a graduate of Dartmouth, class of 1896 (Kellogg, 1901).

Principal Arthur T. Smith, moved on to become a Boston lawyer.

Dover Doings. Arthur T. Smith and family of Boston are visiting Mr. Smith’s father, Dr. A Noel Smith of this city. Mr. Smith is now in one of the leading law offices of Boston. He was formerly principal of the Nute high school of Milton (Portsmouth Herald, July 29, 1909).

Oddly enough, the Nute High School and Library acquired some Boston real estate in 1911. One might suppose this was some residual portion of Lewis W. Nute’s property and a part of the endowment.

BACK BAY SALES. The Nute High School and Library of New Hampshire has taken title from George E. Mackintire of two four-story brick apartment houses, 203 to 205 Hemenway st., near the corner of Huntington entrance to the Fens. Both parcels have a rating of $33,200 and there is 3789 square feet of land, taxed for $7,800 (Boston Globe, November 2, 1911).

The Back Bay buildings have been replaced, although several like them survive across the street. The addresses mentioned are located in a block or area ringed by Boston’s Back Bay Fens, Forsyth Park, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (under construction there 1907-15), and Northeastern University.

See also Nute High School Principals, 1891-21 and Nute High School Principals, 1923-57


Find a Grave. (2014, March 21). Lewis Worster Nute. Retrieved from

Kellogg, E.L., and Co.. (1901, March 9).  School Journal – New England Notes – Briefer Items. Retrieved from

NH General Court. (1889). Laws of the State of New Hampshire, Passed June Session, 1889. Retrieved from

NH State Librarian. (1892). Report of the State Librarian to the New Hampshire Legislature for the Year Ending October 1, 1892. Retrieved from

Superintendent of Public Instruction. (1894). Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Retrieved from

The Dartmouth. (1901, March 8). 1896. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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