Volunteers sought for Rawsonville school house renovations


JAMAICA -- Volunteers are being sought for renovating the Rawsonville School House so the building can be possibly used as an emergency shelter and a place for students to visit.

The plan is to stabilize the building before winter comes. This includes repairing the roof where there are holes near the bell, causing water to come in, and fixing the broken window panes.

"It's kind of a time warp to go inside," said Jamaica Town Clerk Pat Meulemans. "It's the same as it was. There's lots of books, teachers' desks, chalk boards, the piano and a globe."

She told the Reformer that the building used to be a focal point of the town. A store, Mountain Riders, was where the general store and post office had been located. The school itself housed 15 to 20 students from grades K-8.

On Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, there will be "work parties" held at the site of the Rawsonville School House from 1 to 3 p.m. People can come and help or look at the building.

Besides touching up parts of the school house, plans include seeking grants to make the building better suited for school group visits. There is also discussion about making the school house available for educational seminars and classes.

"School houses are a dying breed or mostly dead," said Meulemans. "But this building is like a time capsule."

In two years, the Rawson family reunion will be held at the building.

"We're hoping by then to have the building painted and spruced up, the yard trimmed and everything like that," said Meulemans. "Ideally, we'd like to have a working bathroom in it. That's the big goal."

Several months ago, Jamaica Elementary School students came to visit and listened to Ralph Coleman speak of his experience at the school. Coleman, a lister in town, was one of the last students to attend Rawsonville School House in the early 1960s. When he attended, there wasn't any running water.

"We brought it in and it was dispensed through a water jug," said Coleman. "And everyone mostly walked to school."

He is hopeful that the renovation project will restore the building by re-painting parts of it, establishing working bathrooms and taking care of other minor repairs necessary to utilize it again. "We think with a little grant money and some mostly volunteer labor, we can get it back to where it will look like an old school house," he said.

Contact Meulemans at JamaicaTownClerk@svcable.net.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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