Addie (Ashline) Barnes, Ken Lord and Edward Bechard in the one-room schoolhouse they attended together in the 1930s.
The one-room schoolhouse where 89-year-old Edward Bechard first learned to speak English is once again in the education business, newly re-opened as the Coopersville Schoolhouse of History.
Its been on quite a journey from it’s days on the Mason Road in Champlain, as Champlain District Schoolhouse Number 9. Built in the 1860s, on what was then known as the Lord Road, the schoolhouse fell prey to centralization in 1931. It was purchased in the forties by William Pauquette, and turned into a summer cottage and fishing camp.
The Paquette family owned the building until a few years ago, when Celine Paquette contacted Bechard and offered him the building.
“Mrs. Paquette called and said ‘do I want the old school’? She said if I didn’t take it she would tear it down, so I took it and moved it to where it is now,” said Bechard.
Bechard owns farmland on the Bechard Road, and he donated an acre of his land to put the building on. He had the building moved in 2010, and has been actively working to renovate and restore the schoolhouse ever since, with the assistance of his great-nephew Ryan Tedlock.
“It worked out perfect,” said Bechard with his broad smile and thick French-Canadian accent. “We got a very good crowd (at the recent open house).”
His most enduring memory of the schoolhouse, he said, was how cold it was there in the winter. Bechard’s sister would come to school an hour early each morning to light the wood stove, but even with that, it was noon before the children could take off their coats.
“There was no insulation in the ceiling, and it was colder back then,” Bechard said.
Ninety-year-old Ken Lord agreed about the turnout, and the new life of the school where he attended second grade.
“It’s nice. Eddie Bechard did a good job getting it and fixing it up.”
Lord remembers riding his horse, Prince, to school in the morning. When he arrived, he would turn Prince around, and the horse would find his way back home. At the end of the day though, Lord would have to walk himself back home.
Eighty-seven-year-old Addie (Ashline) Barnes has her own memories of life in at Schoolhouse Number 9.
“We had to bring our soup and Mrs. (Nellie) Wood (their teacher) would heat it up on the stove for us,” she remembers. “But she used to taste it, and I didn’t like that.”
She also remembers having spelling Bee’s, which she says she never failed.
Her days at the schoolhouse must have had a lasting impression on her, since she works in the school system now, two hours a day, in Garden City, Long Island, as a teacher’s assistant.
“I’ve got 19 Kindergartners and 22 First Graders,” she says proudly.
The Coopersville Schoolhouse of History will be open for tours and during special events. Those interested in scheduling a tour can contact Susan Moore at 570-2052.