District 6 Schoolhouse
Lyndon Center, Vermont
We are very pleased to report the completion of the interior restoration work on the District 6 Schoolhouse.
Several years ago, Society vice-president Jim Fearon “rediscovered” the fact that what most of us assumed was always a cemetery truck shed next to the Town House was actually the one-room schoolhouse that served Lyndon Center’s school children from 1857 to 1900.
Our (“Lyndon Heritage”) fundraising efforts in 2001 included the restoration of the building as one of the four projects aimed at preserving / rehabilitating / restoring local historical landmarks. Jim completed contracting for and overseeing the planned work on the Town House, Shores Museum and the abutments on the Randall Bridge. He had also tended to the exterior rehabilitation of the schoolhouse - raising and leveling the sills, installing a new metal roof, repairing windows, installing shutters, restoring siding in place of the garage doors and painting the outside of the building - at a cost of $17,478 from the Lyndon Heritage Fund. With Jim’s untimely death in June 2003, it appeared that the project might be stalled, if not aborted.
However, the undersigned and Chris Raymond, members of the Society’s Executive Committee, teamed up to assure that Jim Fearon’s dream might be realized. With the valued assistance of the Town’s municipal assistant, Art Sanborn, they were able to engage the services of the Caledonia Community Work Camp crew to undertake “drastic surgery” on the interior…which was in disastrous condition, totally dilapidated from over a hundred years of abuse, misuse and disregard. The skilled, hard-working crew did a commendable job. They ripped up the rotted floor boards and sub-floor completely (finding in the dirt under the flooring two cattle skulls, a cast iron toy train with spring, old bottles, an antique shoe, long-handled spoon, and a horseshoe…all to be displayed as part of an exhibit in the vestibule, along with hand-forged nails, a section of floor beam joint, and five layers of wallpaper), put in cement footings and new beams with a plywood cover, and laid down kiln-dried pine saddle-lapped boards; they were secured with countersunk screws and pegged to simulate antique flooring. The crew expertly replaced the crumbling plaster with sheetrock, restored the missing sections of wainscoting, built a teacher's platform, restored the vestibule and doors, rebuilt the chimney completely, fully insulated walls and ceiling, and painted the outside trim. The underground electric service is all new (the only feature not historically accurate...but needed) and the antique design light fixtures were installed as soon as the flooring was in place. A handicapped access ramp was built, using historic bricks from the 1872 Corner School and pressure-treated lumber for the framing. All materials were purchased from local vendors.
The Lyndon Institute maintenance staff found in a storage barn some old blackboard slates, installed them for us behind the teacher’s platform and on the rear wall and handsomely framed them. An exterior sign has also been installed. It reads:
DISTRICT 6 SCHOOLHOUSE
1857 – 1900
A bronze plaque will be affixed at the time of the dedication to briefly explain the building’s history and function:
The children of Lyndon Center attended school in this wooden building for 43 years. It then served as a cemetery storage garage until its restoration by the Lyndon Historical Society during 2002-2004. Now it is home to an exhibit depicting life in a one-room schoolhouse, including the furnishings of the period as well as books and materials used by the local school children.
We'll first want to acquire and install more period furnishings (maps, photos, wall clock, textbooks, period calendar, flagpole, etc.). The United States flag had just 31 stars when James Buchanan took office as President in 1857, the same year the District 6 Schoolhouse opened its doors to its first students. The Society has already installed an array of furnishings and artifacts that have been donated to the Society or purchased with funds remaining in the Lyndon Heritage Account, including a 31-star flag!
Gifts from your neighbors include 13 antique student desks (more are sought) and a headmaster’s desk, a pot-bellied stove, school bell, globe atlas, wall sconces and textbooks.
The students in Chris Raymond’s high school history classes will be planning and coordinating this next phase of the project, i.e., the interior arrangement and installation of furnishings.
If all goes well, the May meeting of the Society will be held in the school and class visits, anxiously awaited by local schoolchildren (with lectures by former teachers of one-room schools), could commence in late spring.
Regarding financing, we’ve raised $82,764 to date for the Heritage Fund from members and friends, local businesses and grants. The cost of the interior work on the schoolhouse - materials and labor as well as a modest amount for furnishings – was just under $23,500. Nearly $48,000 had been previously expended for the other three historic sites and the exterior work on the school, leaving approximately $11,000 for the major repairs needed for the Randall Bridge.
A. Richard Boera - Project Coordinator