Root Schoolhouse Reopening Celebration: August 28
Call it the Root Schoolhouse, though its official name is the quainter Root District Game Club. It’s ready for its debut in Norwich, Vermont after years of restoration. A reopening celebration is scheduled for Saturday, August 28, 2021 from 3 to 6 p.m.
One room schoolhouses are as much a part of Vermont’s classic charm as its legendary foliage. The Root School closed in 1945 when its student population had dipped to only four pupils. In 1952, a group of local hunters and their families purchased the schoolhouse for the sum of $5.00. According to Courtney Dobyns, President of the Board of the Root Schoolhouse, “There have been many groups of people from the 1970’s to the 2000s who have held their own events [at the schoolhouse] . . . These groups continued to do maintenance and upkeep over the years [occasionally renting out the space for certain functions] but it became apparent in 2004 that it was only a matter of time before the building’s foundation would no longer be viable.”
By 2011, the condition of the schoolhouse had deteriorated such that it was unable to be insured and was then closed for public use. Neighbors wondered aloud what was to become of it and decided to take action. Dobyns says “The impetus for saving it was really centered around its history. The photographs of the students who went to school there and its importance in the story of Norwich were just too compelling. We just couldn’t let it go to ruin.”
Fast-forward to 2021. Years of work and the generosity of supporters and volunteers have resulted in a restored facility that will serve as a community space. The Root Schoolhouse now has a new foundation, improved wiring, a newly painted exterior, restored windows and a new ramp for accessibility.
As renovations were nearing completion and while it remained closed to the public, the Root Schoolhouse breathed some life into this past pandemic year when a pie sale was held outdoors at the site last October. Also, in January 2021, the building was used to participate in a vigil for those who had died during the pandemic when it was illuminated from within in remembrance. (photo, below). On the schoolhouse’s schedule for the fall is a second annual pie sale.
The Root Schoolhouse, located on Union Village Road near the intersection of Goodrich Four Corners Road, will be available for seasonal use from May through October. The Board is working on the drafting of a rental policy. The space is approximately 600 square feet, described by Dobyns as lacking in running water and:
“pretty rustic . . . It is a simple venue reminiscent of the old days. It is a chance for families to unplug and entertain each other with storytelling, skits, talent shows or whatever they create . . . The light from the windows would be perfect for art classes and the atmosphere is serene for yoga and meditation groups.”
For more information, to see more photos, or to make a donation, please click here to view the Root Schoolhouse website.
(Photos courtesy of Root Schoolhouse.)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.