The Doanesburg Schoolhouse – 1840
1662 Rt. 22, Southeast, NY
Directly west of the Old Southeast Church is the Doanesburg Schoolhouse. Built prior to 1841, the Doanesburg schoolhouse sits beneath shady maples and tucked away off of Route 22. It shares the landscape with the Old Southeast Church and remains much the same today as it did when its doors were closed in 1947. It is the oldest unaltered schoolhouse in Putnam County. Inside are bench style desks that could seat 16 children who ranged in grade levels from K through eight. The building was heated by a wood burning stove. High vaulted ceilings served to circulate the warmed air. In one corner sits a ceramic water jug which was filled from a nearby stream. Click here to see schoolhouse interiors.
The one-story structure measures three bays by one bay, and is the scene for current gatherings of school children to help them relate to the teaching facilities of yesteryear. Teachers, who were scarce, taught groups of children of all ages. The buildings were often focal points in small rural communities like early Southeast, becoming a center of social and civic activities including celebrations and elections.
The building was purchased by The Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast in 1978. A present board member, Alexandra Johnson, is the daughter of one of the school’s former teachers, Mabel Addis Mergardt. Mabel taught in what she referred to as her “beloved Doanesburg” from 1935 to 1937 before she moved on to Mt. Kisco Elementary and eventually Katonah Elementary until her retirement in 1976. We are fortunate to have her written record of memories of students and events from her years in Doanesburg.
In the late 1990’s considerable work was done on this site by an all-volunteer effort. The entire east wall was removed, and extensive reinforcing and replacing of studs and sills with pressure-treated lumber was accomplished. At this time the Landmarks Preservation Society also restored windows and replaced the cedar roof to prevent any additional damage to the interior. Exterior painting of the schoolhouse was done in 2005 under the supervision of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.
The land for the Old Doanesburg Schoolhouse was donated by the Doane family in the 1820's. The school has probably been in use since the 1850's. Some of the earliest teachers noted in "Brewster Through the Years" were Miss Martha Knapp (Mrs. Isaac Field) and Miss Elizabeth Gay (Mrs. Walter W. Smith.)
There was a new cedar roof installed this Fall and trees were cut or trimmed that were too close. There will have to be some interior painting done in warmer weather.