In Riverhead is a one-room schoolhouse fitted with desks carved with initials by students of long ago. Quill pens rest beside inkwells. McGuffey readers line the bookshelves. A pail of water and a dipper once served all thirsty students. Several hickory sticks, and in a corner, a dunce cap and stool once warned the inattentive.
The schoolhouse was built in Baiting Hollow in 1822. In 1918, having been replaced by a more modern school building, the then 97 year old structure was moved to the Sabat farm across the street, where it served as housing for migrant workers, and later as storage for fertilizer.
In 1977 the family of the late George Sabat gave the building to the Riverhead Preservation and Landmarks Society, who moved it to its present location and restored it to its 1822 condition. It is a living museum, ready to be experienced, located at 133 East Main Street, Riverhead.
The Unusual Class Field Trip
Would your class like to take a trip in a time machine - a device that would transport the children back over more than 160 years, into a one-room schoolhouse?
The students will march into the classroom in two straight lines, one for boys and one for girls, as in olden days. They find their places on rough wooden benches or behind old oak desks, around a wood stove. The focus of their lessons is history, not only the history of the schoolhouse but also of the whole area - our history. They might also cipher on a slate, learn arithmetic as it was taught in the 19th Century, participate in a spelling bee, or stand with their group to recite before the teacher's raised desk. During recess, there are relay races, blind man's bluff, marbles, hop scotch and other old time games.
This is no fantasy. This is a real experience, available to elementary classes. Here students can duplicate what education was like in the early days of our country. The visit has been called "one of the most uncommon educational programs in this part of the country." Enthusiastic students have been even more emphatic. One group recently called it "the best field trip we have ever taken."
ARRANGING YOUR TRIP
For information or reservations, write or call:
East End Arts
133 East Main Street
Riverhead, NY 11901
Phone: (631) 369-2171
SCHOOL GROUP VISITS
Please call for the price of visiting the one-room schoolhouse. Reservations must be made in advance. Ample parking is nearby. The schoolhouse program is available from September to Thanksgiving, and from March through June.”
The schoolhouse is open to the public by appointment. Please contact Diane Giardi at the above address.
Adults, singly or in groups, will enjoy this time-warp experience in 19th Century schooling. After the visit one can better understand why our ancestors often said that in a one-room school with a good teacher children learned a resourcefulness that followed them through life. Lessons were a bit more difficult in those days. Older pupils taught younger ones. Writing was considered important. Grading was harsh. Neatness and conformity were important. And imagine the challenge a teacher faced with 20 or more students, aged 4 to 20, in one classroom!