The Hurlbutt Street Schoolhouse was built in 1834, in one day, by members of the school district who donated their services. For the next 101 years this one-room school provided an education for as many as thirty children at one time, in grades one through eight. Many changes were made in the course of the years – from kerosene lamps to electricity, from hornbooks and slates to notebooks and lead pencils, from simply learning the 3 R’s to understanding the atom. The wood-burning stove, the water jug, the blackboard, the teaching chart, old-fashioned desks, the school bell, the rain barrel, and the outhouse remain.
The school’s most notable teacher, 1918-1935, was Miss Angeline M. Post. Many former students have said their whole lives were shaped by her gentle but firm, creative but practical inspiration.
In 1929 a Ladies Auxiliary was formed, and, as a result, there were several progressive “firsts” in Wilton: first school to have a radio, weekly art instruction, playground equipment, dental clinic, hot lunch program, and visiting foreign students.
In 1935 the school was closed due to consolidation of all education at the Center School. In 1938 the Auxiliary bought the school house from the Town of Wilton for $1.00, and as the non-profit Hurlbutt Street Community House, its activities included Red Cross First Aid and Sewing programs, overseas relief and refugee assistance, Girl Scouts, sponsorship of a Korean orphan, the making of more than twenty-five quilts for flood victims and needy Wilton families, and in cooperation with the Wilton Garden Club, the creation of a Memorial Wildflower Garden at the back of the property. In 1974 the organization’s name was changed to the Hurlbutt Street School House, Inc., and the building was gradually refurbished to its former schoolroom appearance.
Today, the 1834 Hurlbutt Street School House, designated Wilton’s Fourth Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as a living museum where school children can visit for a day and learn the ways of earlier times.
Each year, children from Wilton and neighboring towns visit the old school on Hurlbutt Street for lessons taught in the old methods and participate in traditional rote learning and one-room class activities. Hurlbutt School features a pot-bellied stove, water jug, blackboard, teaching chart, and the outhouse of bygone times.
The children arrive on a modern-day school bus and are met at the door by the teacher who rings the school bell announcing the beginning of their visit back in time. The children often bring logs and sticks for the wood-burning stove, the only source of heat for the building. The teacher asks the children to get in line, one for girls and one for boys.
After a short discussion of expected behavior while in class, the children are seated at the old desks, girls on one side of the room and boys on the other, around a wood-burning stove, write on slates, use quill pens, stand for recitation, read from McGuffey readers and learn basic arithmetic by a rote and repetitive method.
View our history page to learn more!