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April 1, 2013

Peru, Upper Jay buildings nominated for national catalog

PLATTSBURGH — A one-room schoolhouse in Peru and a showroom for Model T Fords in Upper Jay have been nominated as additions to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The Peru property is the Lyon Street School, built circa 1881 and used as a schoolhouse into the 1930s.

“Inside, you had seats on one side, then on the other; boys were on one side, and girls on the other,” remembered Arnold Wells, 90, who was a student there. 

“As you entered the schoolhouse, you could see where they burnt the coal.”

He also recalled his responsibilities there. 

“I was one of them teenagers, ya know,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t know if you would call it being a janitor, or what, but I would load the stove with coal.”

REMAINS ORIGINAL

Peru Town Historian Ron Allen said that the well-preserved nature of the property is part of its value. 

“Many one-room schoolhouses had a room or two added on and became homes. So they were changed architecturally.” 

By contrast, the Lyon Street School “is original,” the historian said.

“It had been used primarily to store hay since it had been closed.” 

Eventually, owners Allen and Marian Dixon sold it to the Town of Peru for $1.

The simple wooden building is now painted red with white trim. However, as a schoolhouse, it was painted white. 

Allen said there is some question as to whether the trim was blue or green at that time, as recollections vary. 

BELL THEFT THWARTED

Atop the roof is a frame that held the school bell. The bell itself has been preserved and is currently part of the Clinton County Historical Museum’s exhibit “Peru’s Busy Past.”

Allen said that the bell had been taken down some time ago, in part because of a peculiar incident. 

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