This week's story is about the old Belgium School, District no. 7, eighth in a series regarding our early schools. Belgium is the only one of 18 rural school districts not actually located in the town of Lysander.
Its students were spread on both sides of the Seneca River, which divides the towns of Lysander and Clay. The school was located north of the Belgium Bridge on Gaskin Road in the town of Clay. Now a rental property, the building has deep roots.
According to the 1896 history book, "Onondaga's Centennial," by Dwight H. Bruce, the Belgium School was the second one built in the town of Clay. About 1809, "a second log house was erected at Belgium, near Seneca River, and in it Mose Kinne, who had previously taught as a school in his house, became the first teacher. This was superseded by a frame school building in 1812." One of the oldest rural schools in the county, Belgium was also one of the three longest-lasting rural schools in the town of Lysander. Only Plainville and Lysander closed later.
But, all good things must come to an end, and the old Belgium School is no exception. The voters of former School District no. 7 petitioned the larger Baldwinsville Central School District on July 25, 1956, for a meeting to discuss improvements to the school. District Principal Donald Ray responded by listing the upgrades required by the state. These included "running water under pressure" and several other amenities that we take for granted today, all at an estimated cost of $2,511. This cost did not include the installation of an automatic heating plant to keep pipes from freezing in the winter. One student who attended the school in the 1940's remembers that "even though the bathrooms were connected to the main room with that big, pot-bellied stove, boy, they were cold."