Wallington Cobblestone Schoolhouse (Wallington)
circa late 1800′s
The following information is from Jim Miller
Located at 6135 North Geneva Road in Wallington
Wallington Cobblestone Schoolhouse District 8
The Wallington Cobblestone School committee wishes to thank the Sodus Chamber of Commerce for including their school on their mural.
In 1826, work started on a cobblestone schoolhouse in Wallington which would replace a log structure which was built in 1809. It was built by William Swales, Sr. who constructed 12 other cobblestone buildings in the Sodus area including the Maxwell Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast cobblestone house. One of 23 schoolhouses which eventually served the Sodus area, the Wallington schoolhouse was used for 125 years until the schools were centralized into larger buildings which could house greater numbers of students. It is the only one which is still used for its original purpose.
Not a great deal is known about the earliest days of Wallington but early records give us a flavor of our pioneer past. For example, records show that there were bounties offered for the killing of wolves and panthers. Hogs were allowed to run wild from the first of November to the first of May.
As with all such country schools the teacher was responsible for teaching all of the grades. We can imagine that there would be a few children in each of the eight grades. It is surprising to find out that the enrollment of the school reached over 100, according to the Commissioner of Schools book, 1848-1867. In 1853, sources show Wallington schoolmaster’s salary was $2.28 a week.
By 1897, the cobblestone stone school was in need of repairs and the local citizens banded together to do the necessary repairs. By then the railroad line through Wallington to Sodus Point had been operating for over 20 years and the trolley line which would run parallel to the railroad was under construction.
Skipping ahead to the 20th century, we find the school house still being operated; by now lit by electric lights and heated with a kerosene furnace instead of a pot belly stove.
After the centralization of the country schools, some country schools fell into disrepair and some were turned into homes. Our little schoolhouse was taken over by the Wallington Community Association who acquired the ownership from the school district. Meetings were held and efforts were made to use the building for community events.
In 1974, several community members became upset at the gradual decline in the condition of the school. At this time, our nation’s bicentennial was approaching and this inspired many projects locally and though out the United States. A meeting was held at the Harold and Janet Wunder residence. At the time, the Wunder’s son, Dale, was doing research of the school’s history for a Hoffman paper about Wallington. At that meeting ideas were discussed about renovating the aging structure. Using mostly local people, the repairs began. The whole back wall was torn off and stones were gathered from nearby farms. A local mason was hired to lay the foundation and finish off the back wall in as authentic a fashion as possible. Many other repairs were also achieved such as putting in electric heat. A book was completed about Wallington’s history by community members and sold to help offset repairs.
Once the building was habitable again, Pauline Israel, a retired sixth grade teacher, proposed opening the school for field trips for grade school students. Sodus Central School brought the first classes in the early 80’s and the program blossomed to include over 1000 fourth graders a year. Schools from as far away as Oswego and Rochester have taken part in the program, “A Day in the Country School”. . Currently there are two excellent volunteer teachers who handle the spring and fall term.
Most children dress in period costumes and all are given a different name and assigned a different grade. Efforts are made to make the day as authentic as possible including possible punishments such as the dunce chair. Games such as “Annie, over the Shanty” and others are played during recess.
In 1994, the Wallington School was given National Historic Landmark status thanks to the persistent efforts of Flora Murphy.
For tours or donations to the school, call Janet Wunder 483-9791 or Martha Miller 483-8454. The school is located at 6135 North Geneva Road.
Photos from the book Arms’ Crossroads – Wallington (pages 177, 197 and 198) by The Wallington Cobblestone Schoolhouse Restoration Committee 1982