Overacker Corners Schoolhouse Reopened
On July 12, 1998, the Middlesex Heritage Group celebrated with a picnic the completion of their renewal of the schoolhouse located at Overacker Corners on the corner of North Vine Valley Road and Route 364. Speeches and ceremonies recognized the contributions individuals, families, and groups had made to the project. Hazel Dinehart Robeson was the Guest of Honor.
Instead of spending several thousand dollars to begin the project ten years ago the group decided to volunteer their own work and incidental money to restore the building.
The work began by replacing ceiling and the walls above the wainscoting. Next a floor was laid using lumber from a silo belonging to Leon Button. A teacher's desk was made and dedicated to Hazel Robeson. Replicas of the desks used in schools from the 1830s until 1934 were built. New interior lights were installed, the foundation repaired and a flagpole erected outside, near the door where it had stood before.
A history of the schoolhouse compiled by Ruth Clark and Janet Read for the occasion was read at the gathering.
"The present Overacker school was built in 1874 on land purchased from Cyrus Adams. It was built of bricks that probably were made in a nearby brick factory…. The name Overacker probably came from a family that lived nearby…Henry Overacker lived on the corner lot opposite the school. … [T]he history of the Methodist church… states that at the time the church was built in 1836, there was a school, blacksmith shop, millinery shop and tailor at Overacker Corners.
"The teachers usually had graduated from high school and also had received one year of training school. They either lived nearby or stayed with families in the district. These people had to be the janitor, fire builder and water hauler in addition to teaching. The school was heated by a stove in the middle of the room. Drinking water was either carried in a pail from neighbors or brought by the teacher. There was no electricity but with the large windows on three sides, there was enough light. Just inside the door on the right-hand side there were hooks for the girls to hang their coats. On the left side there was a bench to hold the water pail and dipper and the wash basin. Beyond this bench the boys could hang their coats. Outside there was a toilet, a single building having two 'rooms' with separated entrances and a wooden fence at the front. One side was used by the girls, the other by the boys.
"Reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography and history were taught in grades one through eight. After eighth grade, students could attend the Middlesex Union School which later became the Middlesex High School.
"Some of the teachers were: Lillian Boyd, Nellie Button, Gordon Foster, Lela Robson, Nellie Bennett, Bertha Noble, Mrs. Stanley Voorhees, Hazel Dinehart Robeson, Alice DeWick, Ruth Halstead, Frank Mattison, Carrie Razey and Hiram Smith. Hazel Robeson was the teacher when it closed in 1937.
"In 1933 the school was pictured in the National Geographic Magasine. In 1994, it was listed on the State Register of Historical Places. In 1939, Leon Button bought the schoolhouse and land for $128. 50. The addition of a cement floor changed the building into a storage barn. Mr. Button stills owns the building but now leases it to the Middlesex Heritage Group. "
The public, groups of students particularly, are encouraged to tour the building and appointments may be made by contacting Stuart Mitchell, Town of Middlesex Historian, or by contacting the Heritage Group at the Town Hall, Wednesday or Saturday mornings.