The old North Haven schoolhouse took to the road for the third time in its existence early on Tuesday, October 12, for the 1.1-mile trip to North Haven’s Village Hall campus, where it now awaits a new life as an exhibition and museum space.
Dawn Movers lifted the 1847 structure from its foundation at the corner of Payne Avenue and Ferry Road on Monday, put it on a frame of steel girders mounted on wheels, and at 7 a.m. on Tuesday started rolling the self-propelled, remotely guided assemblage at a snail’s pace to its new home. It took about an hour, with minimal disruption to drivers, who could pass on Ferry Road’s southbound shoulder.
Unused and ignored in recent decades, the humble wood-frame building nevertheless inspired North Haven Trustee Dianne Skilbred, Village Improvement Society president Jessica von Hagn and Susan Edwards, a member of the village’s Board of Architectural Review, to propose making better use of it.
In early 2019, suggesting it could become a museum of mid-19th-century school life for today’s schoolchildren, they urged the Village Board to shift the structure to the Village Hall property, where parking and bathroom facilities would be available to support its expanded use.
The Village Board of Trustees approved funding for the move in June 2019. It was initially planned for the fall of 2020, but several factors — mostly caused by the pandemic — stalled the project for a year.
Built in 1847 as North Haven’s second schoolhouse, moved to a nearby private property to serve as a shed in 1892 after a bigger schoolhouse went up, the building was moved back to its original site in the early 1930s and restored by the Village Improvement Society. It served as a public meeting space for local organizations for many years but — especially after the construction of North Haven’s current Village Hall in 1991 — it fell into disuse.
Trustee Skilbred is leading a committee to plan the interior transformation to a museum. The group includes Von Hagn and Edwards. They have discussed ideas with village historian Joseph Zakowski and a docent at a one-room schoolhouse museum in New Jersey, according to Skilbred. She said she’s hoping for a grand opening in the spring.
The cost so far for the project is about $35,000, including $16,000 for Tuesday’s move; $16,046 to Marcello Masonry for the new foundation work, and $2,645 for preparation work by the village’s public works man, Glenn Ficorilli.
In addition to determining the details of its future use, the village also must decide what, if anything, to do with the now-vacant corner parcel where it stood for most of its existence.
Except for one offhand chat among board members at a Village Board meeting in 2020, when selling it was mentioned as a possibility, the topic has never been on the board’s public agenda. Skilbred said “there are a number of ideas” under consideration by Village Board members, who she said are getting an appraisal for the property.