Lysander Goes to School -- Plainville School, District #5

This week's story is about the old Plainville School, District #5, the fourth in a series regarding our early schools. Of the 19 rural schools in existence at the time of centralization circa 1950, the Plainville School is the one that is the best preserved in its original condition. Some schools are gone and others are residences, but only the Plainville and Little Utica schools remain as they were 50 or more years ago. The former is owned by the Plainville Fire Department.

According to an old edition of the Messenger, on Oct. 20, 1960, "Baldwinsville Central School District's board of education approved the closing of its branch school at Plainville . . . the per pupil cost of heating, lighting and teacher for seven pupils was too great, the board held." On May 17, 1961, the people of the former Plainville Common School District #5 sold the school building and land to the Plainville Fire Department for the price of one dollar. Based on the stories alone that the school has to tell, this was quite a bargain.

The other day, Captain Ed Healey of the Plainville Fire Department gave me a guided tour of the old Plainville rural school, just west of the Four Corners. Ed showed me around the upstairs, which is a typical large meeting room with an adjoining kitchen. We also inspected the basement by flashlight, where the original chimney stands. Having been built in 1921, the building has its limitations. Because it doesn't conform to the "Americans with Disabilities Act," the fire company can't open it to the public. Today, it serves as a meeting place for the fire department, which is experiencing some serious growing pains next door. For these reasons, Ed fears that the building may not be around much longer.

Ironically, before this school (now owned by the fire department), there stood on this same spot a brick school house, which was built in 1874 and destroyed by fire in 1920. According to an old edition of the Cato Citizen, on Aug. 19, 1920, a Plainville man, "Mr. (Lester) Heron, who was taken ill about half past two, arose and lighted a lamp. While his sister was preparing some medicine for him, the lamp was knocked off a stand and set the house on fire. James Schenck rang the church bell while Mrs. Schenck sent a telephone alarm, which brought the Meridian firemen with their hand engine and many people from Lysander and the surrounding country . . . The fire communicated to the school and that also was quickly consumed; some of the books and equipment were saved, however. Clifford Voorhees with a force pump and the assistance of other workers succeeded in saving Wm. Ward's residence."

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