brick building although built in 1879, was not the first schoolhouse.
There were two earlier wooden ones which no longer exist.
The former two were located very close to this brick one,
but nearer to the road and smaller in size. Benjamin Burt
sold the land to the Trustees for the first schoolhouse for
$325.00 on May 1, 1826. There is no record as to what happened
to the first building but a second wooden structure was built
and used for many years. In 1853 this was still standing and
was also known as the "Tabernacle" because the Methodist
church was not yet built so the upstairs part of this second
schoolhouse was used for church services.
a deed dated 1879, Andrew Houston sold an additional parcel
of land for $200.00 for this brick building to be built. For
more than 50 years there were no changes made in the property
lines. Then on August 27, 1928 Addie and Emmett Bradner, whose
property bordered the schoolhouse, sold an additional section
to add to the school yard. Perhaps this is when indoor plumbing
became necessary and the addition on the back for the boys
and girls lavatories was added. The back addition was made
from concrete not brick and also had an inside wall with lots
of hooks for hanging coats and plenty of wet mittens I'm sure!
This shows the concrete addition which housed the indoor plumbing.
Before this it was a hand pump in the front and outhouses
in the back.
following excerpt is description of the school written by
Delia Houston for a newspaper in 1925:
"One of the few little red schoolhouses in Orange County
that is really red-the majority of them are white-is Union
Free School No. 10, formerly No. 18, located at Bellvale on
the state road from Warwick to Greenwood Lake.
This school-house is solidly built of brick, the entrance
projecting out from the center front of the building and rising
to form the belfry. The windows are arched, an elaborate architectural
detail, seen in very few schools either in city or country.
The doorway is also arched. The keystone of the arch is of
brownstone and carved on it is the inscription:
The school-house which faces south, consists of two rooms.
In the east room are the four upper grades, twenty pupils
altogether, taught by Miss Ethel Brewster of Howells, NY.
In the primary room are twenty six puplis and Miss Martha
Wilson is the teacher. This makes a total enrollment of forty
six. The school rooms have woodwork painted light gray and
the walls and ceiling a cheerful yellow. From the north windows
of the school there is an uninterrupted view across beautiful
Warwick Valley to Sugar Loaf."
click for larger image
Upon successfully completing the eight grade students would
recieve their diplomas:
for larger image
I believe the building was used as a school until about the
early 1950's. In the late 1950's the schoolhouse was sold
at a public auction and purchased by Mr. Frank Benz of Greenwood
Lake(owner of the Linden House Restaurant) because he wanted
the schoolbell for his collection of bells. They wouldn't
sell him just the bell so he bought the building, removed
the bell and resold the building to Victor Wolfson. Mr. Wolfson
owned it for a short while but didn't do anything with it
and then sold it to my parents in 1960. They had been looking
for a building that they would be able to afford and work
on to improve as a home for our family. Pop was a carpenter
and part time gardener and immediately saw the potential in
the location and uniqueness of the schoolhouse. For him it
was the ideal place, a strong building, close to the garden
and the road where he could sell his produce and flowers easily
at a road side stand. It was in pretty sad condition by then.
The whole yard was overgrown with brambles and young trees.
We could hardly find the door to the back! The walls of the
building were still solid(double brick walls on three sides
and on north wall triple brick)but the roof was so bad you
could stand inside and see the sky! The water leakage had
cause a lot of damage inside as well. For over a year my father
and brother worked to replace the roof, remove old lath and
plaster from the inside, replace flooring and reframe the
interior. There was nothing really salvageable or left except
a couple of the slate blackboards and a few diplomas shown
following photographs show some of the major renovations since
This photo shows
the doors my pop put in to get under the building to do work
and store things. There was no full basement underneath just
an area dug out to store coal for the furnace. Before my pop
bought the building someone had painted it white and he kept
it that way for quite a few years.
This photo is of
my pop and some of the windmills he used to build. On the
side is the outbuilding he added for his tractor. We later
removed this addition.
My pop again with
the gladioli that he was known to sell along the road.
Here we are sandblasting
the white wash and paint off to get the original brick exposed
from underneath layers of paint.
Here the building
has been sandblasted back to the original brick and new windows
and doors are being installed.
This shows my brother
Bert willemse opening up the concrete wall in the back addition
to install the sliding glass door unit.
The wall is almost
ready to have the glass unit installed. On the right you can
see one of the windows was replaced by a doorway.
The windows have
been installed and the siding is being added.
Looks so much better
but still a lot of work to be done.
This is my husband
Karl setting the huge stone column into the ground in the
front of our house. This stone was given to us by the company
he worked for at the time. It was a marker of some type and
was hand chiseled. What a job that was. He only had one chance
to get it right because once it started sliding out of the
van there was no way to stop it!