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Let's visit the remnants of simpler times in education, way back to when discipline meant rules and structure, as opposed to punishment, and to when students across many grade levels were schooled in the same room.

School districts were established in 1813 for the State of New York. Schools used to be simple structures, most consisting of one room, often a pot-belly stove in the center and an outhouse in the back. The teacher was usually responsible for the maintenance of the school on top of teaching. Imagine today telling a teacher they had to mop the floor.

LI's old schoolhouses was featured on our podcast. {enclose Show1.mp3}

 
I found the greatest number of vintage schoolhouses in Stony Brook, so let's start there. In 1842, Stony Brook Village was split into two districts called Upper and Lower.

The Upper Stony Brook School was the first to open, around 1801. Originally, class was held in a barn dating to 1743. The barn was moved in the early 1900s. Later, a single room schoolhouse was constructed and used until the two districts were consolidated in 1898. After the All Soul's Church burned, services were held in the schoolhouse, from 1857 to 1889. Today it is used as a private residence on Main Street, just south of the Mill Pond.

The first Lower Stony Brook School was built in 1825, and it consisted of a gable façade, clapboard siding and twin Italian louvered windows in the peak. It was moved in 1859 from the adjacent building, which was the second Lower Stony Brook Schoolhouse. Today, along with its neighbor, it is used as a residence.

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Former Upper Stony Brook Schoolhouse
 
       
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Former Lower Stony Brook School
 
Former Second Lower Shool
           
The Nassakeag Schoolhouse is also located in Stony Brook, but not originally. It was moved to The Long Island Museum in 1955 from Sheep Pasture Road, across from the golf course. It served 30 students ranging from 5 to 15 years old. It is accessible to the public as part of the museum. The inside is restored, complete with potbelly stove, chalkboards and desks.  
           
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Nassakeag Schoolhouse
 
Inside the Nassakeag Schoolhouse
           
As one of Long Island’s earliest settlements, it is no surprise that the oldest Brookhaven Schoolhouse I found was in Setauket. This is possibly the oldest schoolhouse still standing anywhere on Long Island. It was built circa 1718, and was originally located where the Caroline Church shed is today. It was sold at auction for $75 in 1869, when a larger schoolhouse was constructed, and is currently a private residence.

The old schoolhouse in East Setauket is much larger than its cousins; in fact it consists of two stories. In 1981 its exterior was restored to original condition and it now serves as an office building, appropriately named "School House Offices."

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1718 Setauket Schoolhouse
     
 

In Farmingville, the Bald Hills School operated from 1850 to 1929, when Holtsville and Farmingville were consolidated. The Farmingville Congregational Church met there from 1858-1890. An early schoolteacher was Elijah Terry, whose 1823 house was moved next door to the schoolhouse on Portion Road. The Farmingville Reunion Association has been holding annual picnics on the school’s grounds since the 1880s, and took over the building after it closed.

     
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East Setauket Schoolhouse
 
       
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Bald Hills Schoolhouse
     
  Coram’s single room schoolhouse was built in 1900 and used as a school until 1953. It then became Coram’s first public library. It replaced an earlier school that dates back to 1813 and was located in a wooded knoll. It has been moved and now sits behind the Coram Fire Department on Middle Country Road. The fire department was using it for meetings, but now it seems badly in need of renovations. A former student remembers collecting hickory branches for the teacher to strike the hands of those who misbehaved. Collecting those branches must have been a punishment itself.
Teachers House, Bald Hills School
 
       
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  Ridge’s schoolhouse was moved to the Longwood Estate and is now part of the park. It has been restored and is occasionally open to the public. The school had a two-door outhouse; each side was a two-seater. Also out back was a coal shed for the school’s stove. Later on, indoor bathrooms, an oil burner, and a telephone were added.
     

Coram Schoolhouse

     
           
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Ridge Schoolhouse Before Renovations
     
Ridge Schoolhouse Today
 
           
Josephine Lundy recalls her long tenure as a teacher at the Ridge Schoolhouse. “Each day's lessons consisted of arithmetic, followed by spelling, history, geography, and reading. Writing was combined with English. Twice a year we studied a famous poet and the children memorized ten lines of a poem by that author,” recalls Mrs. Lundy. The teacher also was responsible for janitorial work and the taking of a census, for a small amount of extra pay. Mrs. Lundy would also teach art once or twice a month, on a Friday. The children would construct Christmas crafts,  which were given to the parents at a Christmas show held in the school. The school’s trustees would bring a box of chocolates and an orange for each student. That is pretty touching, considering it was during the Great Depression. Mrs. Lundy remembers these events well. In the winter it would get so cold that the inkwells would freeze, and in summertime, so hot that classes would be held outdoors.  
           
Middle Island’s School was built in 1835 and used until 1928, when a 2-room schoolhouse was constructed. It became a private residence and was added on to. In 1990, the Longwood Library purchased it. David Clemens, the library director, realized the original part of this house was the old school, and must be saved. The original section was moved to Bartlett Park and beautifully restored. It now sits next to a scenic lake.  
           
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Middle Island Schoolhouse Today
 
Vintage Middle Island Schoolhouse Photo
           
The Miller Place Academy started out as a private school for college bound students ten to twenty years old. It closed in 1868 after a public school opened nearby. It suffered from a lack of students and funds. In 1897, the local school district rented out two of its rooms due to poor conditions at the public school for the lower grades. In 1937, a larger public school was constructed and the Academy’s days as a schoolhouse had ended. Not all news was bleak, though. By provision of the original charter the former school must always contain a free library for public use. To this day it still contains a small library, independent of the Suffolk County Library system.  
           
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Erected in 1926, the Shoreham Schoolhouse supported a Spanish style roof and look. It was the area's fourth school building. Today it serves as a real estate office. Look at the belfry and you can still see the Spanish style roof.

 

Manorville’s third schoolhouse was constructed in 1929. It served as a schoolhouse until 1942, its closing a victim of district consolidation. Today it houses the Manorville Historical Society, which opens it to the public the first Saturday of each month.

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Former Shoreham Schoolhouse
     
  Let’s not forget that Brookhaven spans to the South Shore as well. The Swan River School in East Patchogue dates back to 1858. Today it is owned by the Town of Brookhaven and managed by the Greater Patchogue Historical Society. It contains school furnishings, including original desks, benches, a pot belly stove, a large iron bell. It also houses exhibits depicting earlier life on LI. The bell was brought indoors after the hurricane of 1938.
     
Manorville Historical Society, Old Schoolhouse
     
           
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Swan River School and Students
 
Swan River Schoolhouse
           
The teacher at the Moriches Schoolhouse was Mr. Claude C. Neville. He purchased the schoolhouse and moved it to Canal Street. Mr. Neville became a lawyer and justice of the peace, using the schoolhouse to conduct business. Later he became the town supervisor.

The Center Moriches Schoolhouse was built in 1870 at a cost of $780. Two years later it served 77 students. In 1896 it ceased being a school. Saint Johns Episcopal Church purchased it in 1898, and it has been a church ever since.

 
           
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Former Moriches Schoolhouse
 
Former Center Moriches Schoolhouse

Comments (5)

    I went to a 2 room schoolhouse on Jericho Tpke. (Middle Country Rd) in the '50's. It was next door to the Quonset hut which was the VFW building on the west and Briggs Diner on the east. Does any one know where I could get a picture of it or learn more about it's history. Fourth and fifth grades there were wonderful. Hot lunches were brought in from Wood Rd. school and we had a sandlot in the rear of the building that was used for P.E. and recess. The basement was our music room.
    When I was a child, I went to a day camp that was held at the Eastern Military Academy. The place was still very impressive then. I also used to get into trouble by sneaking down into the basement and other off limits areas, to see what was there. I remember a pool inside, under the parking lot. When i was older and the school had closed, I was one of many who "explored the ruins" there. I was able to see more of the basement areas and such....
    these were built, VERY QUICKLY, in the summer of 1954 - from wikipedia, In 1954, for example, the Centereach School District faced a classroom-shortage crisis. It was solved only when local home developers (whose buyers and new area residents were causing the crisis) volunteered to build ten "one room schoolhouses" in one month's time, with a plan to later convert the buildings into residences.[2][3][4] This "Unity Drive" project name was adopted by the elementary school (now a Pre-K/Kindergarten center) built nearby a few years later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Country_Central_School_District
    Any idea when the Centereach cottages were built?
    Hello, I enjoyed the schoolhouses of the past. Just wanted to let you know that in Middle country school district, Centereach, the former 'cottages', now private houses are located across the street from Unity Dr School. There were 7 or 8 cottages as I recall. The first on the corner to the right was the kindergarten class, where I started my schooling in 1955. Each cottage following to the left was the next level grade. I believe the principal's office and nurse were situated somewhere at cottage 4 or 5. I remember playing outside in 'the back yard', and watching as the new 'big' school, Unity Dr was being built. I went there for a year, then the old elementary school in Selden, which is now the cultural center. Then we went to Bicycle path for a half year and moved int Holbrook rd school in 1958. By the way, This latter school was built on the site of a sheep farm. How I would love to see pictures of the beautiful old house that was once there!

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