Bethel School, located a few miles from downtown Honesdale, is a 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. Many of the original textbooks used in that era still remain on the bookcases.
The schoolhouse was originally heated by a large wood stove and later by coal. 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. With no running water available, outhouses provided the bathroom facilities.
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, Fox and Geese, 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 in Schwartz’ cow pasture. A large bell called them back to classes.
Bethel School closed in 1951 with Miss Mary McCarthy of Hawley as the teacher with 21 students on the roster. 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.
Check our Facebook events page for up to date information about tours, or contact the historical society at 570-253-3240 to arrange a private tour.
Parking is available on the dirt road at the right of Bethel School.
Each date is open from 1:00pm - 4:00pm
June 12 with a program at 2:00pm by Ted Keenan. Ted is the proud owner of the Hoadley one-room schoolhouse in Cherry Ridge. He will share his love of history and delight the audience with his plans for creating his own museum of historical artifacts that he has gathered.
June 26 Open House
July 10 with a program at 2:00pm by Carol Dunn, Jane Ganatra and Drothy Kieff. Older folks must surelt remember learning to read wih"Dick and Jane and Sally" in the 1950's! These delightful characters of the "look-say" method of reading will be revisited.
August 14 with a program at 2:00pm. The Rural Schools of Berlin Township has finally been published! Carol and Dorothy will present a slide show to discuss their research into the archives of Berlin Township and its One-Room schools. What a labor of love!
August 28 Open House
Free, but donations are appreciated.