Middletown to mark bicentennial of historic school

Contributed | Barbara MosesEliza Sanford’s students at District No. 10, the Stone School House, posed for this photograph during the 1932-33 school year. Front, from left, Doris McMurray, Mildred Bellows, Edith Fairbairn and Catherine Bellows. Rear, from left, are Jeslyn Gregory, Donald Dickman, Kenneth Keeney, Virginia Bellows and Evelyn Fairbairn.

Middletown’s Stone School House will celebrate its 200th anniversary Saturday, Sept. 19.

The 1 p.m. outdoor ceremony will commence with the ringing of the original school bell, which still hangs in the belfry, according to Diane Galusha, president of the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown.

Speakers will include Paul Rush, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Pat Davis, Middletown town supervisor. Drawings for a book on the history of the school by the late Lena Borden Tiffany and a framed original watercolor by Oneida Hammond will take place that afternoon.

The District No. 10 School, located two miles south of Margaretville in the hamlet of Dunraven, was built of local stone in 1820 on property deeded to the town of Middletown by John and Anna Van Wagoner, according to Galusha. It replaced a log school that had existed for several years, serving the children of Middletown’s earliest settlers.

The school had fallen into disrepair by the mid-19th century and was reconstructed in 1862 using the same stones, Galusha said. Hundreds of students attended grades one through eight at the school until it was closed in 1940, when students began attending class at the new Margaretville Central School.

The building was also used for church services and as a polling place until New York City condemned the school along with other properties in the buffer zone of the Pepacton Reservoir in the 1950s, according to Galusha.

Public sentiment helped preserve the schoolhouse, which is now a protected historic site listed on the state and national registers of historic places and owned by the town and maintained by the independent Stone School House Association.

Visitors may tour the building following the ceremony to get a sense of the one-room school experience. Masks and social distancing are required.

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