Little Red Schoolhouse renovation plans unfold

The Little Red Schoolhouse now sits at its permanent home in the St. George Town Center.

By Rachel Carter

Generations of Pillsbury, Isham, Ayer, Lockwood, and Tilley families were educated at the St. George Little Red Schoolhouse, first constructed in March of 1852. As transportation became more readily available, rural Vermont one-room schoolhouses closed with many falling into disarray. The last class in St. George was held in 1965 and for years the aging schoolhouse sat on Rt. 2A waiting to be saved or crushed in by severe weather. In 2009 the St. George Historic & Conservation Trust formed with the primary focus to resurrect the Little Red Schoolhouse. CSSU signed over the schoolhouse deed to the Trust and St. George donated $10,000 and a 100 x 100 parcel of land on Barber Road. Community generosity and manpower united and on Nov. 7, 2012, the schoolhouse was moved to its new home between Simon’s Convenience Store and the St. George Town Clerk, further developing St. George Town Center. “Historically Vermont schoolhouses weren’t just used for education, but also as community gathering spots hosting town meetings, dinners, and events. We are saving a precious piece of history,” comments Lori Ring, president of the St. George Historic & Conservation Trust. In the state’s most geographically small town, St. George is made up of a caring, close-knit community gearing up for their 250th anniversary celebration this summer. “We have an incredible amount of schoolhouse relics and old text books and will showcase a museum area. We want the schoolhouse ready for the party!” Ring offers with enthusiasm. “Schoolhouse plans have been met with widespread community support and requests for movie nights, after school programs, summer activities, and event rentals,” she adds. The look and feel of the renovated Little Red Schoolhouse will resemble the 1852 aesthetic structure, but with the modern necessities of a current meeting space. Electricity, plumbing, insulation, and modern kitchen and bathroom meeting ADA compliancy are the next steps in the resurrection. As with all community efforts to restore small town Vermont history for use and maintenance in the 21st century, funds are needed to bring projects to fruition. The total renovation costs range between $130-140,000 with $75,000 having been raised through generous donations by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Simon’s Convenience Stores, the Patrick Foundation, Mortimer Kaufman (owner of the St. George Villa), and the Town of St. George (in addition to their land donation and $10,000 cost to move the schoolhouse). State representative Joan Lenes advocates for the schoolhouse renovation and works closely with Ring and the Trust in assessing costs and financing, “Senator Jean Ankeney always envisioned restoring and using the old St. George Schoolhouse as a community gathering place. She understood that this building was rich with so much local history as well as having much to offer future generations of St. George residents. I am proud to play a part in making that a reality.” As this project reaches the homestretch, hopes are high for raising the remaining $25-35,000 needed to introduce the historic Little Red Schoolhouse as the St. George Town Center community center. “Many people have been generous with their time and money in making this come true!” Lenes adds appreciatively. On behalf of the Town of St. George, both Ring and Lenes believe in community support for the project to be completed in anticipation of the 250th anniversary. To donate and view photos and plans, please visit www.stgeorgevtschoolhouse.org.

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