200-year-old Pownal schoolhouse moved across town to serve new purpose

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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POWNAL, Vt. (WCAX) - It was history in the making on Tuesday in Pownal. An old schoolhouse from the early 1800s rolled through the center of the southwestern Vermont town on the way to its new home.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Pownal’s historic one-room schoolhouse makes its way down the road, with just a foundation marking the spot where it had stood since 1812.

Residents gathered to watch the journey.

“This is the first and it is quite a process,” said David Palmer of Pownal.

Phone and cable lines needed to be disconnected in order for the building to make the move.

Of course, at the beginning of the 19th century when it was built, the telephone had not yet been invented.

“It does tie in our nice past, with what we have going forward,” Palmer said.

The Pownal Historical Society was the most recent owner of the building before gifting it to the town. It hasn’t been used for education for decades and sat empty for the past several years.

Now, it will have a new purpose.

“This is the finishing touch to the new Town Hall,” Pownal Town Administrator Tara Parks said.

In 2019, the town voted to include the schoolhouse in the plans to build a new town office.

“This will bring us together and give us a nice multiuse space,” Parks said.

Joyce and Ken Held are in the historical society and helped make the move happen.

“It would just sit there and deteriorate because there wasn’t really any great parking spaces around. It wasn’t really usable,” Joyce Held said.

“I think it is fantastic. It will continue to live and be there,” Ken Held said.

Of course, a project like this comes with a cost, with local taxpayers footing the bill.

“Through the years the cost to do this has escalated terribly,” said Steph Kauppi, a former member of the select board.

The new town office is complete along with the new foundation for the schoolhouse. Future town votes will take place here.

“It’s back into a use which will work out fine,” Kauppi said.

Officials say the schoolhouse will still need several months of construction before it is ready to open to the public. Town officials say a grand opening celebration will be planned for this fall.

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