Granville resurrects Corner School

GRANVILLE — If all goes according to plan, Granville will have a center that serves as a meeting space and a haven for historical research and computer access within five years.
This Memorial Day weekend, the board of directors of the Corner School Resource Center of Granville, or CSRC, will hold its second annual town-wide yard sale and barbecue at the Town Hall, in order to raise funds for the renovation of one of the town’s older one-room schoolhouses.
The event — which will take place this Saturday, May 29, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. — is one of the first fund-raising steps in the organization’s mission: to convert the vacant one-room schoolhouse on Post Office Hill Road into a public space dedicated to history and the accessibility to information.
“I think it could be a very important center for the community,” said Diane Eramo, a Granville resident and president of the CSRC board.
Although it was built more than 100 years ago, Eramo and her confederates would like to equip the Corner School for the 21st century. The group hopes to provide a computer there that is connected to high-speed Internet — which Granville residents hope will arrive in town sometime in the coming months.
The center will also add another venue for group meetings and public classes. The only space currently available is the Granville Town Hall.
The board also aims to create a repository of local natural, social and cultural history. To this end, members of the board are already interviewing elders in the community and collecting stories. And the development of the building as a historical hub for the community will serve another purpose: it will preserve the aging 1877 schoolhouse.
In the late 1800s, at the height of the timber rush, the town of Granville had nine one-room schoolhouses. As the population dropped, the schoolhouses gradually closed, leaving only the Corner Schoolhouse and the Lower Village Schoolhouse. While the Lower Village school remained open until 2009, the Corner Schoolhouse shut its doors to students in 1946.
During the 1950s, the town moved its library of books from the Grange across the street into the Corner School, out of a growing need for space and a worry that the weight of the books would do structural damage to the Grange building.
The library closed in 1990 due both to the patrons’ desires for more modern resources and to the building’s lack of heat and running water. Since then, the weight of the books has broken some joists under the floorboards, creating a sloping indentation in the floor toward the back of the room.
The concept of renovating the building as a hub of information and history had been floating around in recent years, but the town had been reluctant to take on the cost of repairing the structure.
Eramo estimated that in 2000 the price tag for the repairs would have been around $60,000. Ten years of rising construction costs and decay of the building have put the price of renovation today at between $100,000 and $220,000, depending on the extent of the repairs needed to bring the building up to code.
To counter the substantial costs, a group of town residents that would later become the CSRC came together a few years ago to push the project forward, agreeing to form an organization, separate from the town, that would raise money to renovate and furnish the center.
“I love old buildings,” said Eramo of her motivation for getting involved in the project.
She said that since the CSRC agreed to take on the funding for the project, she has heard little dissent from the townspeople regarding the project. In fact, the plans for the center were given a boost at a special town meeting in October of 2008, when residents voted to transfer the property to the then-unofficial CSRC for $1.
Following that decision, an official board of directors was named in January of 2009. Represented on the board are several people who were involved with the library while it was still open, and the organization’s vice president in charge of development, Eleanor Norton, had attended school there. Norton died last August at the age of 80.
The CSRC board forged ahead with paperwork, receiving federal nonprofit status for the Corner School Resource Center in March of this year.
In the coming months, the board will seek a permit for the building’s renovation from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and, once that permit has cleared, will purchase the building and its grounds from the town.
Following the permits and building approvals, the organization plans to begin fund-raising in earnest and apply for grants to fund the building’s renovation.
“(Our focus) will be the preservation of the building, the history of the region and a center for the community,” Eramo said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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