Wilton’s one-room schoolhouse gets new roof

One day last month when it rained outside, it rained inside as well. One of summer’s torrential downpours made its way through the wooden shake roof of the Hurlbutt Street Schoolhouse, soaking the classroom below.

When volunteers arrived, they found water staining the ceiling and puddles on the floor.

The 185-year-old schoolhouse is a favorite field trip for third graders from Wilton and Weston, who visit each year to get a taste of what it was like to go to school before buses, when heat was provided by a pot-belly stove, when blackboards preceeded Smart Boards, and when going to the restroom meant going to the “two-holer” out back.

As Wilton’s last remaining schoolhouse, it was important to repair the roof and the interior. Since the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the roof had to be replaced with wood shakes and not asphalt shingles. The interior also needed to be painted.

The leak was discovered by Ann McCann, vice president of the schoolhouse organization, and interns from Wilton High School. Linda Schmidt, president, set about to find someone to begin repairs. More volunteers came to move furniture and take everything off the walls. On a recent visit, drop cloths covered the desks and many of the school’s items — hornbooks, slates, inkwells and more were piled in the kitchen, which was a more modern addition in the back.

Andy Payne of Benchmark Builders was the overall contractor for the schoolhouse job, and the actual roofing work was completed by Don Buxton, of Buxton Services Roofing and Home Improvements.

The schoolhouse has a modest income from donations and participants in the education program. The roof repair was an unexpected expense that has taken a bite out of the nonprofit organization’s savings.

Schmidt was happy to tell The Bulletin the schoolhouse received a $1,000 grant from the Wilton Kiwanis Club to help defray the cost, but the volunteers are hoping the community will join the club’s generosity and contribute to their “roof fund.”

“While we certainly can cover the costs of the new cedar-shingled roof, our resources are reduced so we’re concerned about future unexpected expenses and any donations would be most gratefully received,” Schmidt said.

Checks made payable to Hurlbutt Street School House, Inc. may be mailed to P.O. Box 7081, Wilton CT 06897-7081. Donations may also be made online at www.hurlbuttstreetschoolhouse.org.