Volunteers are breathing life into former cobblestone school in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – Bill Lattin, the retired Orleans County historian, was busy on Friday at the former cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, painting the front windows.

The schoolhouse for District No. 2 was built in 1832 and served as a school until 1944. It fell into disrepair and has been targeted for improvements by the Orleans County Historical Association.

The building has settled over the years and window frames are a little crooked. That made it tricky for Lattin to fix the windows. Fred Miller at Family Hardware in Albion cut new glass for the windows, accommodating the leaning frames.

“You have to go with the flow with these old things,” Lattin said.

The inside of the building has been largely cleared of debris and the floor swept.

Lattin said other buildings in worse shape have been saved in the county.

Gaines resident Al Capurso has been leading the reclamation effort at the former schoolhouse.

Capurso says many pioneer children in Orleans County were taught at the school, which was also used for countless town meetings.

Volunteers will be working to replace windows, repair holes in the flooring and plastering.

Capurso and the Historical Association also will erect a historical marker, highlighting the building’s use as a school from 1832 to 1944.

Capurso has photos of other cobblestone schools in the community that were torn down, including one at the corner of Riches Corner and Holley roads.

“We have lost some cobblestone school houses and we are determined not to lose this one,” he said.

Part of the front wall includes cobblestone masonry that has endured for nearly two centuries.

Capurso and the volunteers would like to have new storm windows on the building before winter, as well as a new roof and the historical marker.

Capurso would like to have the building up to code with a solid floor and electricity so it could again be used for community gatherings.

Bill Lattin points to his father’s initials, which Cary Lattin put in plaster in 1939.

Lattin said many of his relatives attended school in the building.

“My ancestors went here,” Lattin said. “I’m helping out of sentimentality.”

For more information on the project, and how to help, call Capurso at (585) 590-0763.