Looking Backward at Root School in Lysander

This is the second in a series of stories about our early schools, in no particular order.

This week's story is regarding the old Root School, District #14. It's now the home of Doug and Barb Church on Oswego Road. A few Sundays ago I stopped by their house.

If you were born in Baldwinsville like me, then you're probably related to everyone here somehow. Barb was a Kisselstein. Her brother, Harlow, married Bonnie Palmer. Today, she's better known as Bonnie Kisselstein, Lysander Town Historian. One of Barb's sisters, Joan, married my mother's only brother, Bob Foster. Uncle Bob Foster and Doug Church were close friends until my uncle's death in 2001. This convoluted link between the Church family and my own makes us what Bonnie Kisselstein refers to as "shirt-tail relations." But, I digress.

The smell of hot coffee and cinnamon rolls was wafting through this charming house when I arrived. Before I even had a chance to sit down, Doug was showing me around the place. Life hasn't been easy for this former fighter pilot, but Doug is one of the most cheerful and outgoing people I've ever met. My short tour included the original beams in the basement, the original windows in bedroom and study, and the drop in the ceiling where the old part of the house meets the new in the cozy front room. Doug and Barb are wonderful hosts, and they are rightly proud of the little old school house that they call home.

The school's original location was where Church Road once met Oswego Road north of town, east of the Church family homestead. Today, a traffic light marks the spot where the divided highway of Route 690 narrows into the two lanes of Route 48. This intersection is also where the east-end of Church Road meets the west-end of Hencle Boulevard. According to a 1962 Messenger article, Robert C. Church began farming that land in 1924 and launched a farm equipment business in 1935, R.C. Church & Sons. After both boys graduated from Cornell University, son Robert E. ran the dairy farm and son P. Douglas ran the farm supply. Doug's mother, Dorothy kept the books with his wife, Barb. But, the school was there long before Doug's dad attended it in 1913.

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