Thursday Doors – Going Old School

Bell School

Front entrance to the Bell School

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.

Stony Hill School

I am glad that they are preserving this building.

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.

Bell School

That entrance feels like a school.

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.

siding - doors

The door hints at the beauty of the old school.

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.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
This entry was posted in Connecticut, History, Thursday Doors and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to Thursday Doors – Going Old School

  1. Hooray for preservation and applause to the former students for caring about the Stony Hill School and the Bell School owners because it is a beauty. The third school made me squint because although it looks like they take good care of it, they sure pushed the limit and it’s not very attractive. Interesting post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a good idea to make a series about old schools and gather information about them. Immediately I started making plans for going back to my own school and see what I can make of those doors. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. Good luck On getting those pictures. My old school was torn down long ago. My old high school is still standing, but it’s not very interesting. I was surprised when I found three of these.

      Like

      • In my case it was the opposite. My old school still is there, although it is used in a different way, but still full of children. Last year I went down memory lane with an old school friend of mine and found out that our high school had been torn down a few months earlier. The space was empty, very strange to see, imagining how we used to walk around the block during breaks. So it will only be pictures of the first school, I’m afraid.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. dvaal says:

    Wonderful buildings. I know a woman in Virginia (or I met her) and she does small replica’s of old schools. Preserving our history, I believe, is important.
    fiddledeedeebooks.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bikerchick57 says:

    I agree about the vinyl. It could have been so much better with the right materials, although I do love the front door. But, the old school buildings and the architecture are wonderful. You have something there that doesn’t exist around here, at least nothing I’ve driven past or know about. Nice one, Dan.

    Like

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Mary. Yeah, I was so sad when they remodeled that school. I saw them remove the large windows and build in the structure to fit those anemic replacements and I wanted to scream. Then the vinyl…ugh. The door is beautiful though. The Bell School has been beautifully maintained, I wish I could look inside, but that might be pushing things a bit. I think I can get inside the other one, as it’s a public building. They are using it now for yoga classes (so, keeping my distance). I was amazed to find three in one town, but it is the oldest town in CT.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Dan, there is nothing wrong with yoga…or poetry…

        In one of our cities, they tore down an old hotel (had been there for years) and built a monstrosity of an office building. It’s mostly glass and steel, which makes it an eyesore compared to the rest of the buildings in the downtown area that are brick and quaint. Much like your remodeled school house, I just cringed when I saw what they had done. It’s a shame.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. pommepal says:

    3 cheers for the people who make the decision to preserve these lovely old buildings and then do a good job of maintaining them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They are all charming buildings and I am glad to see they are being well-maintained. The schools I attended could be demolished tomorrow and nobody would have any regrets about their loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norm 2.0 says:

    The only place I like vinyl is on my old turntable, but you do have to applaud people who make the effort to preserve these old treasures.
    By the way: a Norm 2.0 official door photographer I.D. does not grant anyone diplomatic immunity, so be careful out there ;-)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      I do appreciate that people are keeping the buildings standing. I understand that the vinyl covered school was nicely done on the inside, so I’ll give them credit for doing what they could.

      No diplomatic immunity? Darn. Maybe as the program grows :)

      Like

  8. Paul says:

    I’m with Norm. Vinyl is hardly the best choice, especially to surround that beautiful wood-and-glass door, but an A for effort. Nice job getting the shots in a private-property situation, Dan. Though, hmm, you COULD always flash some fake badge and say you’re investigating a crime: “Just need a few photos, sir. Won’t be more than 15 minutes. Thanks. Homeland Security really appreciates your cooperation.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Paul, and thanks for the idea. I think I can mock up that ID. Vinyl records are fine. We have vinyl on our house, but at least it looks like shakes. It was way more expensive and much harder to install though. I know the folks who did the original renovation were on a budget (the property has changed hands a few times) but I would have loved to have seen the exterior maintained.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful post, Dan. This is one of your most enjoyable doors posts. Loved all the buildings and the doors. Old school houses have such an innate charm. Have a thriving Thursday. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. joey says:

    I always love the old schools. I still love the Bell School’s architecture, that’s a Fine building. I love the door on that nameless school turned residence, but boy are you right about the vinyl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      The only thing I know about the nameless school is the address, and my editor suggested not posting that, since people do live there. I tried searching on that, but it was recently on the market, so all I could find was real estate ads. Bell School is really pretty, Even the sign is top shelf.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Somebody better start gathering up your little history lessons in a book. I liked the green door, but wow just writing that took me back to college, where we often were going for a bite on Hollywood Blvd, and dontcha know that Behind the Green Door was playing at the porn theater next door the entire time I was in college….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Aunt Beulah says:

    They are school doors. Of course I like them.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I couldn’t agree more about that door looking sad amongst the vinyl siding, Dan. I thought the same thing as I scrolled to read your words. Just love these photos and the doors. Warms my heart to know old schools are being taken care of today.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wendy Brydge says:

    All are nice looking buildings, Dan, but of course, #3 has the best door. Beautiful. While the vinyl may not be the best choice, it’s practical (and cheap), so I think they just made a bad colour choice. Instead of “featuring” the door, it’s created such a stark contrast that it’s actually a bit off-putting. A nice dark red vinyl or even a brown… something more brick-coloured would have definitely been more appropriate and would make the vinyl more acceptable to the eye!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I think you might be right Wendy. I couldn’t find any photos of the school, but I seem to remember it being dark. I do think that they could have made the entrance a bit larger so that the doors aren’t so closely framed.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. loisajay says:

    These old schools are wonderful, Dan. Shame about the vinyl siding on that last one. Too bad this could not have gone before a preservation board to maintain some sort of history to the building. In all honesty, those windows are huge! I cannot imagine living in a house with windows that size.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      The original windows were huge. I don’t think they could have replaced them if they tried, but I think they could have scaled the windows up a bit. They also could have done something interesting with the siding in those areas. Of course, it’s easy for me to sit here and spend someone else’s money. This school sits just outside of the Windsor Historic District which would never had permitted the vinyl.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. C.E.Robinson says:

    Dan, what an interesting post! Love looking at your schoolhouse treasures in CT. Lucky that I have old photos of my K-8 grade schoolhouse. Most old photos, even some family ones are available on our local Lovell (Maine) Historical Society website! High school photo collection Danbury, CT) also on a classmate’s website. Good to have those lasting memories! 💛 Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. The next time I’m in my old hometown, I need to stop at the library to see if they have any photos of my old school. I’ve reached that age where I wish I could connect the dots.

      Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Agree! That’s what I’m doing in the book Sunset Inn, writing about my kid hood in Maine. Doing the research has been connecting-the-dots! My cousins that I grew up with have joined in with their stories! So much fun! 💛 Elizabeth

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dan Antion says:

          That sounds like a very cool project.

          Liked by 1 person

          • C.E.Robinson says:

            Yep! Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d love to feature you next month (June) on my blog site. Meaning, if you have a sunset or sunrise that would be an awesome blog header! Also I’d write up a mini-bio about you with a photo or two. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or an author (like the others that I featured). You have a ton of talents, photography one of them! Do you have a sunset or sunrise in your photo gallery? And would you like to be featured? Totally up to you! 💛 E

            Liked by 1 person

            • Dan Antion says:

              I love sunsets and sunrises, Elizabeth. I have several, but if you want me to pick one, I have one that I truly love. It’s from several years ago, so I hope that’s ok. You can reach me through my blog or nofacilities ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com.

              Liked by 1 person

          • C.E.Robinson says:

            Yay! Thanks! Happy you’ll be the June featured sunset and write-up. I’ll send you an e-mail so we can communicate further. 💛 E…

            Liked by 1 person

  17. Great write up and History. Of the three I love The Bell School. Too bad they choose vinyl siding, but I understand why they changed the windows. As a school the rooms would have had a lot of light to work by. As home those windows would have been too much window not enough wall space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Deborah. I know the school windows were way too large, but I think these are too small. Of course, I’m not the one that has to live there, heat the space and keep it cool, but I would have liked to have been consulted :)

      My understanding is that the inside is beautiful, so maybe they spent their money where it mattered most. I’m really glad the building is still standing. A lot of people would have just knocked it down.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. reocochran says:

    I love the collection of doors, some from old schools and a few (?) from homes which imitated the school style. Dan, every one was beautiful but I liked the brick with green door best. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. These are great Dan! How amazing that they have preserved all of these old schools and so meticulously!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Although all of your photos are lovely, Dan, I love that little redbrick school. Here, a lot of older schoolhouses have been converted into residences but almost all of them are stone. The reason we have so many grassy fields in Ireland is because the stones were cleared out of them (of which there was many) and put to use building cottages and walls.

    Like

  21. I like your play on words and have to agree on the vinyl. The Bell School is my favorite. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. dweezer19 says:

    They look so Colonial. Very lovely buildings-and doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Nato says:

    Wonderful post! Love the info and the old schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. joannesisco says:

    I love the magnificent entrance to that old school house, but like you, I can’t figure out why they would want to remove the large windows and put those tiny ones in instead.

    I laughed at your comment about being an Official Norm 2.0 Door Photographer :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Joanne. The entrance is so beautiful, it’s really a work of art. I just wish they gave it more distance from the vinyl. I realize they couldn’t keep the huge school room windows, but they could have gone bigger.

      I think Norm has to work with the State Department down here to get us some rights.

      Like

  25. I am enjoying your door series, Dan, and learning about the state’s history in the process. All those buildings are beautiful, and their doors. Indeed the building with red steps hints at the beauty of the old school. Great that they were preserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m glad that these schools are being preserved. Great post as always. I went to two schools. In the first one, I was a dumb, last bencher, a nobody type of student. In the other, I was a front bencher, a topper, always in the spotlight and principal’s favorite. Weird isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. Was the difference due to a change in you or the school?

      Like

      • Both had the same syllabus so I can say that things changed because I wanted to make my mother proud. She was upset that I wasn’t performing, so I thought let’s work hard this one time, impress my mamma, and then back to square one. However, when I was flooded with appreciation and positivity I got addicted to it. I was like Whoa this is awesome. You know what I am saying. Like an overnight movie star is born. Now you may figure out the reason yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. marianallen says:

    I’ve seen too many potentially beautiful buildings spoiled by poorly chosen vinyl siding. I understand its value, but I still regret its effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Sad on the one turned into private residence…..the rest…wow…love the history and the architecture!! Great post as always Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Old schools are often so much more appealing than our modern educational buildings. This would be a great A to Z challenge: one school per letter through our entire country. These three are gorgeous and I also love the sign for Bell School.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. dimlamp says:

    Interesting collection of photos, I especially like the green door with the yellow frame and arch.

    Liked by 1 person

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