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Future of old schoolhouse up in the air

MIDDLEBURY — Members of the Case Street Community Club will soon make some decisions on the future of the historic Quarry Hill School building, a well-preserved throwback to an era when the Vermont education system was made up of one-room schoolhouses.
Built circa 1880 by famed, prolific architect Clinton Smith, the Quarry Hill School (not to be confused with the current preschool of the same name about a quarter-mile west) served Case Street-area students until 1954, a year that ushered in a more centralized education system in Middlebury Village. Around a dozen people now have a stake in the old Quarry Hill Schoolhouse; their relatives bought it from the town of Middlebury back in 1954 for $1,000.
Now shed of its educational mission, the building has served as a spot for bingos, suppers, private parties, kids’ activities and community get-togethers. It served as home base for the Sodbusters Horseshoe Club until December of 2013, when the group moved to Bristol. The Sodbusters had rented the property for its events for four decades.
The non-profit Case Street Community Club still tries to hold monthly activities at the old schoolhouse. But longtime association member Joan Forbes said the building will need some major work in order to become more of a community asset and/or rental opportunity. The list of needs includes some composting toilets, installation of new windows and painting — both interior and exterior, according to Forbes.
She hopes the association will soon arrive at a consensus on the future of their organization.
“Some want to dissolve it, others want it to continue the way it is,” Forbes said. “We’re trying to get a meeting together to see who wants to preserve (the association).”
Dissolution of the association would beg questions on how the Quarry Hill School would be managed in the future, noted Forbes, who’d like to see the group continue and expand. Forbes said the association can’t legally sell the building, though it could transfer the property to another nonprofit.
Preserving the old structure will mean raising some money for improvements. Association members have in the past raised funds through events like flea markets, a “big truck show,” pie socials, apple festivals, potluck dinners and bingos. In March, the building hosted a “maple syrup day.” A big yard sale is currently in the works, Forbes said.
Anyone wanting to help improve the Quarry Hill School should email Forbes at forb8j@gmail.com.
“The main thing now is for us to decide what we want to do with (the building) as a community,” Forbes said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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