Barn Hill - East Village Schoolhouse
Originally known as the Eastern District School, the Barn Hill · East Village Schoolhouse, c.1790, is the oldest of Monroe’s 7 former one-room schoolhouses. It originally stood at the northeast corner of Barn Hill and East Village Roads and provided the children of East Village and distant surrounding areas with a formal education. Aside from their daily lessons on the three “R”s – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, the children were also expected to carry out their daily chores to help maintain their school. Water was carried in from a local spring and during the colder months, firewood was brought in from the school’s woodshed to feed the potbelly stove.
In 1935 the town of Monroe was about to proudly dedicate its new consolidated school on Monroe Turnpike. Today we refer to the school as Monroe Elementary School. The new school was built during the era of the WPA and had a handsome fieldstone facade, heated classrooms and even modern indoor plumbing, so there was no longer a need to run to the outhouse when nature called. Students who had normally walked to their one-room district schools were brought to and from the new consolidated school by school bus. Times in our small farming community were certainly changing and this development in education spelled the end for the quaint old one-room schoolhouses that once dotted our landscape.
In June of 1935 a local farmer and auctioneer from Upper Stepney named Edwards S. Beardsley auctioned off all 7 district schoolhouses in a single day. Many locals in attendance came just to witness the event, or perhaps to lament the passing of an era in our town’s education. When the gavel fell, the Barn Hill · East Village Schoolhouse was sold to the East Village Methodist Church for $25. After serving its role in our community for near 150 years, it would now be moved a short distance across the road to the church property where it would then serve their needs as a Sunday school meetinghouse, community hall and center of activity for the next 31 years.
The old schoolhouse was offered to the Monroe Historical Society in 1966 that it might be relocated and preserved for future generations. It took years of tireless fundraising activities by the society to move the structure in 1969 to its current location and complete its restoration and authentic furnishing. After the society’s years of dedicated work, the Barn Hill · East Village Schoolhouse was officially dedicated on November 4, 1973 in the year of Monroe’s sesquicentennial celebration. It has since served generations of young students and residents as an authentic living museum to early education.