Address: Old Military Turnpike, Vermontville
Year built: probably 1857
Malone Farmer, between April & June 1901
Lottie Williams is teaching in what is commonly called the eight square school house.
[Adirondack Daily Enterprise], Wednesday, May 24, 1961
This 'N' That by Mrs. Albert Tyler
In my story last week, about old-time school meetings I said that district 11 in the town of Franklin was usually spoken of, locally, as the "Layman Banker District," and so it is, but the school house in that district is commonly called me "Eight Square School House."
Hearing the name and not knowing its history, one would not be able that it be finished by June 1, 1857: ginated for the building that now stands there looks like a majority, of the small district schools used to look.
According to the records for 1854 they "Resolved to build a school house a little South of Isaac Lyon Jr. Shanty near O(?) S Scofield coal pit" (This is supposed to have been a pit for burning charcoal, but no one living now knows where it was.) They planned to have the school house ready by October 1st 1855 but for some reason didn't.
On January 19 1856 they again "Resolved -That we build a School House," "That the Site for s'd house be Located near the northwest Corner of lot No 243. This would place it about where the present school house is. Then they Res'd-That we build an Eight Square house". "That the inhabitants of the district have the privilege of furnishing material and labor in building the house, the building committee to be appraisers of the same. That the house be finished by the first day of May 1856. That Edmund Town, Madison Keith jr. Swift Tyler, Isaac Lyon and Smith Brush be building committee." Later on they voted to raise two hundred and fifty dollars to build with, and to lease land for the site.
At different meetings and by various resolutions they rescinded the resolution dealing with the time limit for finishing hte school house: they decided that the building ofthe school house by the job to the lowest bidder: that it be finished by Junel, 1857; "that the taxpayers that want to pay in labor or material must pay on or before the first of May." It is recorded that the "House bid off to Charles Town at $100.00"
There is nothing further in the records about the building of this house, but it was built "Eight Square", meaning eight-sideded, or octogonal in shape, and it was built of logs.
At the time, Walter Rock, who still lives in the district and in sight of the present school house, started going to school there seventy-nine years ago, The teachers desk was along one wall and faced the door across the room. One end of each of two seats abutted against each of the remaining six walls. The seats were home made and the smaller, lower ones for the younger children were in front, while they increased in size and height as, they went farther to the back of the room. The very back seats were for the largest scholars and were larger and much longer than any of the others. There had to be seating room for forty students. (At present there are six attending school from that district, and they all go to Saranac Lake.) A black board on one wall near the teacher, with a bench for water pail and tin drinking cup completed the picture, except for the old fashioned wood box in the center of the room that would take wood up to three feet in length.
Apparently the building didn't keep warm easily enough for in Oct. 1860 they voted that the "School house be clabboarded (clap-boarded)Wm. I. Castlow bit it off at $23.00."
In the beginning years of this district they had three trustees, and in 1850 they "Resolved" that the "District clerk" should also be librarian, and from that time on for many years a librarian was elected annually. One wonders what his duties were, and how much time he had to spend on the job. For many years only men were voters, and held office.
When the school house was about twenty years old, extensive repairs were made, such as: new clap-boards, paper (under the clapboards, I suppose), a new floor, new door, some new seats, etc, "all to be completed for the sum of one hundred and twenty five dollars."
By 1890 they began to hire someone to build fires in the morning. Up to this time the teacher had probably done it, or perhaps the first big boy to arrive. By 1892 "Wallie" Rock was 14 and he agreed to build them for the year for $2.40. ln 1902 Mrs. Sheffield agreed "to clean the school twice during the ensuing year and mop the floor once a motnh while school was is Session" all for $4.00.
There was no need to hire any-one to get the water, for the children usually begged for that job, and to keep peace they generally took turns. In nice weather it was a great pleasure for two "best friends" to go a long or in this case a short distance after water. Swinging the pail between them, being outside that much extra, perhaps playing in the water a little as they filled the pail, and in warm weather to have it slop over and onto them a bit as they trudged along school-ward, and being free all that time, instead of being quiet, was a treat no school child would choose to miss, even though under other circumstances the job might have been work.
The old Eight Square school house did good service until 1908 when, in a series of meetings, held only a few days apart, the needed business toward buying an acre of land adjoining the lot they then had; the planning of a new building; the hiring of "One Thousand Dollars" "or so much as Said Sum as may be required for the purpose of building a new School House;" the issuing of bonds to be paid off in three years, etc., was taken care of. The business evidently went along speedily for in less than eleven months, at the annual meeting of 1909 they gave the new trustee authority to sell the old building at the best price obtainable.
All that is why the present school District 11 is spoken of as "the Eight Square School House."
note: The misspellings are as they appeared in the article