Bob Murphy, November 13, 2019 (video)


Bob Murphy, November 13, 2019 (video)
Bob Murphy
Anna Minnebo
Holland Patent, NY
Oneida County
One-room schoolhouse
Wethersfield Historical Preservation Society
Wethersfield, NY
Wethersfield Stone Schoolhouse
Robert (Bob) Murphy was born in 1948 in Potsdam, New York. He grew up in nearby Canton, New York, where he graduated from high school in 1966. Murphy attended LeMoyne College in Syracuse, receiving a Bachelor's of Science in 1970, followed by a Master's in Public Administration in 1979 from Russell Sage College. He went on to have a career in correctional services, which is how he found himself in Holland Patent, New York in 1983, following the opening of a new correctional facility.

Now fifteen years retired, Bob Murphy continues to live in Holland Patent, and leases rental properties in the area. Since the 1990s, he has been involved in the Wethersfield Stone Schoolhouse project, if only tangentially. His direct involvement began in the second half of the first decade of the 2000s, and he now serves as the president of the Wethersfield Historical Preservation Society, a position his wife, Cynthia Rye, also once held. The society was formed in response to the deterioration of the school, which is located on the corner of Pierce Road and Route 365 just outside of Holland Patent. Over the past twenty years the site has found much success, through support from its community, and folks such as Mr. Murphy, Chris Kelly, and many local craftsmen and volunteers.

Today, the restoration of the school is nearly complete, and the society is continuing to look towards the future. They now focus on providing the maintenance and upkeep necessary to preserve the historic structure. It is heated throughout the winter and contains modern amenities such as electricity and a composting toilet. There is no running water at the site, as well as limited parking, challenges the society is continuing to work with. They are actively looking for individuals and groups to use the space. Murphy believes that the space is ideal for meetings and other small gatherings, and he hopes that soon the local school will be able to incorporate it into their curriculum as they once did many years before the restoration. Bob Murphy holds a deep knowledge of the history of the area, the schoolhouse, and the restoration that has taken place, and covers each over the course of his interview.
AM = Anna Minnebo
BM = Bob Murphy


This is Anna Minnebo recording Bob Murphy at the Wethersfield One-Room Schoolhouse on November 13, 2019. So, Bob could you tell us just a little bit about the schoolhouse?

Well you are currently in a 195-year-old district school house. It was known as the Wethersfield Schoolhouse, and it was district school house number six in the immediate area. There were roughly over 20 district schools in this Holland Patent and Barneveld area in the town of Trenton. This particular schoolhouse was built in 1825 from stone in a nearby quarry, it is an old plastered wall, that is nineteen inches thick, just to say a little bit about the construction. We also discovered at points in time they would add plaster to the wall, or lathe and plaster. Today the lathe and plaster has been restored, but there is also insulation in the walls.

[VIDEO, 1:21]

We've also tried to copy as much as we can from what we were able to discover when we demolished the interior of the building. We were able to ascertain that there was a wainscotting around the entire interior of the building, and benches that also ringed the interior. The stove was located right in the middle of the one room, and students would sit around the stove when they were actively being taught by the teacher. Other students who were not being taught at that time would sit on the benches around the interior. There was at one time as many as 85 pupils in this school. One teacher. This was run in this fashion from 1825 until 1934, at what time the Holland Patent area centralized, and all of the district schools were closed.

A number of the pupils who attended in the 1920s and 1930s were still alive at the time we started the restoration of this, and they were a valuable resource in assisting us in copying the authentic construction. We have hidden receptacles, light switches and outlets. We have a number of the original windows, we have a number of the original rafters that were hand hewn beams in the roof. There is a wood burning stove from that period that can be utilized.

We are currently in the process of trying to attract groups to make utilization of this space, possibly community groups, clubs organizations. An example is a lady who intends to conduct a yoga class in here during the winter. We have a Wethersfield Historical Preservation Society that takes care of the heating bills and the insurance, which are the primary bills. The town of Trenton is assisting us with that financial responsibility. The society is currently preparing a flyer and intends to hold an open house to give the schoolhouse more visibility in the community and beyond that. We are on the National Register of Historic Places, both on the federal level and the state level. We are a 501(c)(3) so donations are tax deductible, and that has assisted in obtaining contributions. At this point in time physical restoration is pretty much complete. It is our main objective to make good use of the premises, and that is the goal that is being pursued.

Alright, thank you Bob.
Upstate New York
Wethersfield One-Room Schoolhouse
Holland Patent, NY
Anna Minnebo
Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta
Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY
Moving Image
Video, 1:21- Location of Features in Schoolhouse