Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Westport’s Stone Schoolhouse Celebrates 200 Years

unnamed-1The little stone school house on Dudley Road is more than just the oldest schoolhouse in Essex County, it was the first schoolhouse in Westport. Built in 1816 from local limestone, the small stone school first opened to serve the first settlers of Westport, the Barber and Frisbie families. On October 10, the town of Westport will be celebrating the bicentennial of this small school.

According to nearby Camp Dudley, the Stone School House served local children for 100 years, closing its doors in 1916. During its tenure the school could serve up to 24 children and provide students with a library of 84 books. Now the school is an historic display, capturing a time before centralized school systems.

Champlain Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) Regent Jean Dickerson says, “The NAR’s mission is historical preservation, patriotism and education. We became involved when our members went to the Dudley School and began to clean once a month. When we were cleaning we realized the school was 200 years old.”

The Champlain Chapter of the NSDAR and the Town of Westport are organizing the event. Dickerson explains that the reason the school is now on the edge of town is because the first settlers of Westport lived on Dudley Road.

“We will be saluting the flag first, just like the children would do when they would go to school.,” says Dickerson. “There will also be two members of the earliest settlers taking part in the celebration. People can go into the vestibule and look into the school, but the building is going to remain closed off. We do have an old guest book and hope people will take the time to sign it.”

In 1993 Westport’s Camp Dudley Road became a National Historic District with over 131 buildings, one historic structure and an historic site added to the registry. The school’s historic marker was unveiled in 1964.

“All the buildings on Camp Dudley Road, including farm houses, Skenewood Estate, The Stable Inn, the Germain property, the Barber’s Pointe Lighthouse and Camp Dudley, as the oldest continuous boy’s camp, are part of the historical district,” says Dickerson.

The short program offers a series of events such as Honoring the Flag, DAR’s Historic Preservation, History of the School House, Teachers of the One Room School House and Students of Yesterday. The event takes place at the Old Stone Schoolhouse at 2 pm on October 10. Cider and donuts will be served following the historical presentation.

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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