Bethel School, located a few miles from downtown Honesdale, is perfectly preserved one-room school house built about 1870 near the Poor Farm in Berlin Township.This simple wooden structure has separate entrances and cloakrooms for boys and girls. The large single classroom has a high ceiling, slate boards, and the double wooden desks of the last century.
The schoolhouse was originally heated by a large wood stove. It was the teacher's responsibility to bank the fire at night and arrive in time to warm the schoolhouse before the pupils came at nine o'clock. Many former students remember standing by the stove to dry clothing. Water was carried from the Poor Farm or a neighbor's home and lighting was at first "natural" and later provided by kerosene wall lamps. Electricity was later added in the 1930s.
The teacher taught all eight grades and the number of students varied. Classes were called to the front recitation bench for lessons. Former pupils recall playing Haley Over, marbles, and baseball during the long lunch hour and two recesses. Children could eat lunch in an apple tree, search the woods for trailing arbutus, and play in the creek. A large bell called them back to classes.
Bethel School closed in 1951 with Mary McCarthy as teacher. This largely unchanged building is owned by Wayne County who repaired the foundation and painted the exterior prior to the Wayne County Historical Society opening it to the public on a regular basis in 1998. An Historic Preservation Award was given in 1998 to the County of Wayne for restoration of the exterior of this property.
Historical Society volunteers host free open houses and special programs such as spelling and geography bees! Thousands of visitors and local school children have received valuable history lessons while having fun at Bethel School! The school is available for group tours during the warm weather months. Call the Wayne County Historical Society at (570) 253-3240 for details!
Parking is available on the dirt road at the right of Bethel School.
June- August on scheduled weekends throughout the summer and by appointment by calling WCHS at 570-253-3240