Landmark overdue for renovation
By Luke Baynes
Somewhere, Jean Ankeney is smiling right now.
Ankeney, a longtime Vermont state senator from St. George, expressed a wish at the 2005 St. George Town Meeting, shortly before passing away at age 83: save the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Her wish is about to come to posthumous fruition.
On Aug. 1, the permits will go into effect to allow the relocation of the St. George Schoolhouse from a small, weeded-over plot on the side of Vermont 2A to a place of prominence adjacent to the St. George Town Offices.
“We’re trying to create a village center, so moving the schoolhouse will be an anchor for that,” said Lisa Beliveau, a member of both the St. George Selectboard and Planning Commission.
The one-room schoolhouse was constructed in 1852 and served the children of St. George until 1965.
A cursory glance from a car window to the side of Vermont 2A today will show that the schoolhouse has seen far better days.
Its red paint is chipped and fading, its roof looks ready to collapse with the next sizeable snowfall.
Part of its current state of disrepair is intentional. In anticipation of the upcoming move, an addition to the original one-room structure has been removed, as have the front steps and the brick chimney. The expansive windows, which provided light for students to read and write by in the days before the electric light bulb, have been boarded with plywood.
But Ginger Isham, whose familial connection to the schoolhouse spans generations, said the building will be painstakingly reconstructed to its former state following the move.
According to Isham, the relocation of the schoolhouse will cost approximately $30,000. She said the St. George Historic and Conservation Trust—a nonprofit organization formed in 2008 to oversee the schoolhouse relocation and renovation—has about $61,000 in its bank account, with another $32,500 or so pledged as contributions.
Lori Ring, president of the St. George Historic and Conservation Trust, said that in addition to serving as a historical museum, the schoolhouse will be made available for both public and private functions, including weddings, graduation parties, movie nights and town meetings.
“We don’t have a building that’s capable of hosting a town meeting. This will give us a building for that sort of thing,” Ring said.
The date for the Little Red Schoolhouse’s big move hasn’t been finalized, although Ring said she expects it will be sometime in August.
“We’re trying to complete the goal that (Ankeney) set for the town,” Ring said.
It appears that they’re well on their way.