Schoolhouse History

This 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.

In 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.


The 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."

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Upon successfully completing the eight grade students would recieve their diplomas:


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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 above.

The following photographs show some of the major renovations since 1960:


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!