I don’t mean to imply that I took today’s photos on a film camera; the title is more literal than figurative. Today’s doors are actually hanging on three old school buildings in Windsor, Connecticut that have dodged the wrecking ball. Three schools, in the same town and on the same road.
Route 159 runs south from Connecticut’s border with Massachusetts to the north-end of Hartford. It’s my go-to road when Interstate 91 is congested, which is always, and it offers some very nice scenery. I’ve already posted a few doors that sit on CT-159, but this post is a little different. I wasn’t able to find enough information on any of the individual buildings featured today, to make much of a post. In addition, two of the old schools are now private residences, so I limit myself to photos I can get from the road. The third school is owned by the town, but is under construction and on a section of 159 that has little parking and lots of traffic. I tried flashing my “Official Norm 2.0 Door Photographer” card, but it wasn’t cutting it with the locals.
Starting from the south, we find the Stony Hill School. It’s a one-room brick schoolhouse that was built in 1850 near its present location. The building was moved to its present lot in 1899 when the land was deeded to the Windsor Board of Education by Erastus E. Case for “free public school purposes.” Stony Hill School served as an elementary school until 1969. It was closed because traffic on Rt-159 was considered too dangerous. Heirs of Erastus sued the town in 1970, claiming that, since the land was no longer being used as a school it violated the deed. The Town of Windsor settled the lawsuit for $16,500.
The Friends of Stony Hill School, an organization which included many former students of the school began to restore the school to the appearance of a late 19th/early 20th century schoolhouse with period appropriate artifacts and furnishings. Ironically, once the school was renovated during the 1990s, it was reopened as an educational museum in 1998 and is used to give elementary school students a view of what school was like 100 years ago.
North of the center of Windsor is perhaps the most famous of the three schools. The Bell School was built in 1870, replacing a school built in 1707 a little farther south on the Windsor Green, which was destroyed by fire. The Bell School is an Italianate-style building and features a distinctive bell tower. The bell was donated by Civil War physician Gen. William Pierson who was a neighbor to the property. The building is now a private residence. The Bell School was featured on Deb’s Front Door Project blog in September 2015. I told you it was famous.
The third school is the building I have the least authoritative information about but the one I feel the closest to. I drove by the school on the north end of Palisado Ave for many years as it sat on an overgrown lot slowly deteriorating. A couple of people tried to purchase the school with the hope of turning it into a private residence, but the town wouldn’t agree. Finally, someone was successful, but I wish they hadn’t been. I think you will agree that the “renovation” fell significantly short of preserving the historic nature of the building. You can tell that it probably was a school, but the removal of the large windows, along with the choice of siding material didn’t do this building justice. They did preserve the front entrance, but they diminished its appearance by setting it in a sea of vinyl.
Regardless of use and appearance, I am glad to see these buildings being preserved and maintained.
This post is part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors series. If you have a door that you would like to share, you can hop on over to Norm’s page. From there, you can check out the other doors and the opportunity to add your own.