Odd Eight-Sided Schoolhouse at Dryden
Built Over 100 Years

Records Give No Reason for Unusual Architecture

Eight sided schoolhouse
Eight sided Schoolhouse
Dryden, NY about 110k

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Please note: the following newspaper clipping from the "Post-Standard" , a Syracuse, NY Newspaper, (date printed, ca 1918) was found in a scrapbook.


ITHACA - Unique because of its architecture, the "Eight Square" school house in Dryden, officially known as the Octagonal school, has other claims to distinction in the rural school history of the State.

It is 104 years old and in spite of its small size it registered upwards of 100 pupils annually for the decade beginning 1815. The old plank schoolhouse was replaced by the present curiously designed structure in 1827.

It is the district 5 schoolhouse and has only 15 pupils with Mrs. Gladys ROBINSON as teacher. Frank VANTINE, the present clerk, has in his possession a book containing the original minutes dating from October 22, 1814.

The book contains entries regarding the decision to build the school and the cost but nowhere is there any _______ (crease) of the reasons behind its odd architecture. The school was built with eight equal sides and the guess of the oldest inhabitants is that it was so designed to accommodate the largest number of pupils with the least possible waste of space.

Originally the pupils were seated, more than 100, in a sort of gallery or balcony fashioned like semi-circles on two sides of the building with the passage way from the door to the teacher 's rostrum between. The advanced pupils sat on the uppermost tier which was so fashioned that they could sit facing two ways. They faced the center for recitations and spelling bees and then swung around for copying, a planked shelf encircling the entire sides doing service for their desks.

The lower grades occupied lower seats in the balcony, so that a promotion meant literally as well as figuratively the elevation of a pupil.

The history does not mention how this elevated range effected the pea shooters of that day. But it does throw light on some of the problems encountered more than 100 years ago in hygiene.

An entry dated April 4, 1827, sets forth that George ROBERT was chosen moderator; William BISHOP, clerk; Henry SNYDER, Isaac BISHOP, and Solomon SHARP, trustee... "and that George ROBERTSON and George SNYDER be the itch inspectors, and it is further resolved that these itch inspectors be authorized to discharge any scholar from school that they may find to have the itch."

Thruout the old book for the next 10 years entries there are frequent references to the itch and the itch inspectors.

Original appropriation for the Octagonal schoolhose was $350 but subsequent appropriation brought the cost up to more than $500.

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