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1829 School House
The one-room school of the past still exists today in historic Bedford Village. It is the little "Stone Jug", as it was affectionately known, now restored to its original state. Built in 1829 the School House served the community for 83 years until 1912, the year of its last class.
The old School House was built in a few months in 1829 after three years of planning and arguing over the site. Meanwhile, classes were held in the 1787 Court House or in private homes.
The site first considered by the school district trustees was “between the burying ground gate and Uriah Raymonds blacksmith shop where the white and coloured bodies are buried!” The old graveyard, laid out in 1681, is across the green from the site finally chosen, which was described as “south of the Court House and seventy feet from and directly oposite the line between Benjamin Isaacs land and Aaron Reads barn!” (The barn has been torn down, but the Isaacs and Read houses, prized homes today, still face the village green as they have since the late 1700’s.)
Construction costs for the new school came to $466.30, of which $50 was contributed by John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States and Bedford’s leading citizen.
In the mid-Nineteenth century, pupils at the Stone Jug school studied grammar, spelling, arithmetic, history, geography, the Bible, and depending on the scholarship of the teacher, Latin and philosophy. They had the use of a school library on history, biography, travel, science, nature, agriculture and literature. A three-page list of books dated 1843 ranged from the practical to the abstruse, from “Tales of the American Revolution” to “Abercrombie on the Moral Feelings!”
The school was open the year round, but attendance fluctuated with the seasons, as children were kept at home for farm work or family chores. In 1842, 62 children were taught, but only 9 for the full 12 months; 27 children spent only four to five months in school. Teacher’s pay in 1852 was $134.20; other expenses were $3.50 for repairs, $12.75 for fuel, $3.75 for sawing and splitting wood and $12.11 for books.
For 83 years the school served generations of village children. Then in 1912, the class had thirty-one pupils, and overcrowding forced the trustees to build larger quarters on Court Road nearby. This did not mean the end of the one-room school in the Town of Bedford; the district system begun in 1813 continued until the consolidation of Bedford, Pound Ridge and Mount Kisco schools in 1953.
Meanwhile, the little school on the Bedford Green became the Bedford Museum of local history. It was founded by the Bedford Agassiz Society in 1913 and managed since 1918 by the Bedford Historical Society. When the Court House was restored in 1970, the museum exhibits were moved there, and the School House became a different kind of museum - one of old-time education.