Contact John Renjilian, 203-426-0864
NEWTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY SCHEDULES OPEN HOUSE
Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic won’t be accompanied by a hickory stick at Newtown’s Little Red Schoolhouse this fall, but the schoolhouse will be open for tours on October 13, from 12.00-4.00PM. In addition to the tours, there will be 19th century games on the lawn or inside, depending on weather,. The building was erected about 1850, replacing the earlier edifice serving the Bear Hills District. In 1802, when the Newtown-Bridgeport Turnpike was opened, the school, nearby to the central one of three tollgates, was renamed the Middle Gate School. The building was given to the Newtown Historical Society in 1973, and was moved to its present site on the lawn of the present Middle Gate Elementary School on Cold Spring Road, where it was restored and is now maintained by the Society for tours and an annual Open House day in the fall. It is one of two buildings maintained by the Society, along with the Matthew Curtiss House on Main Street, which serves as the home of the Society.
The Matthew Curtiss House, is a bit older, having been constructed about 1750, and purchased by Matthew Curtiss in 1781; Curtiss continued to live there until his death in 1824. He is sometimes called Junior, in deference to his father, the first of the family to live in Newtown, though the elder apparently lived in the Berkshire section of town.
Both the Schoolhouse and Curtiss House are not just old buildings, however. Maintained by the Historical Society as open museums, the Society’s collections on display are intended to represent the House throughout its life, not just the period of Curtiss ownership, and the school as it would have been in the later 19th century. The Curtiss House offers an Open House once each month, but staffing limitations preclude its being open at the same time as the Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse contains the original furniture restored by the Society so that children can experience the “comfort” of our ancestors’ learning environment. And remember, the child of parents who don’t meet the winter firewood assessment for the month gets the seat farthest from the stove, adding to the comfort level! Costumed docents will be available to help with seating assignments, or you are free to walk through the Schoolhouse on your own. The event is free and open to the public.
The Newtown Historical Society is an entirely volunteer organization with no paid staff, and volunteer staffing limits the Society to one open house per month during the spring and fall. Please see the website for further information, www.newtownhistory.org, visit www.facebook.com/newtownhistoricalsociety, or call 203-426-5937.