The West Manor School, home to the Manorville Historical Society, recently got a much-needed revitalization to its exterior. The job included repainting and reglazing all of the exterior windows and window sockets, and a repainting of the eaves, according to Agnes Pearo, president of the Manorville Historical Society.
“Things just started to go,” said Pearo, who is joined on the historical society executive committee by her husband, Matthew Pearo, vice president. “The caulking was chewed up on the windows and it was just time. But also, there was the $5,000-a-year bill for fuel oil because of the leaky windows.”
The building is the site of West Manor School, a two-room schoolhouse, built in 1929. The school operated until the 1940s, with kindergarten through fourth grade in one room and grades 5 to 8 in the other. By 1942, the schoolhouse was no longer being used and it fell into disrepair, only to be discovered again in the 1990s. Now, the school is home to the Manorville Historical Society in one room, the schoolhouse museum in the other, and a thrift shop in the basement.
According to Pearo, finding a contractor to complete the revitalization was not without its challenges – mainly because it is an old building, requiring time, patience and knowledge on the part of the laborer. That’s where Suzanne Welch comes in. Welch is a drywall contractor specializing in sheetrock, spackle, paint and wallpaper.
“I’ve always been attracted to old buildings. They don’t come across my plate all the time, but when they do, I can feel the history,” said Welch, who in the past has done repairs on the inside of the schoolhouse.
According to Welch, glazing, which holds a pane of glass to its frame, needs to be redone at least every 20 to 30 years to keep the windows in optimum condition; otherwise, they tend to leak air, making summer cooling or winter heating less efficient and more expensive.
“There was lots of picking at it until things came apart,” she said of taking the old glaze off to make room for the new glaze.
For Welch, revitalization projects like this one serve to motivate the entire community.
“Anytime something is improved near someone’s home, it’s like giving the community a big hug,” she said. “Eyesores are blight on the neighborhood, and they bring down the energy. When you improve old buildings like this, it trickles down. Next thing you know, all the neighbors want to improve their own homes – it sparks a good feeling throughout town.”
To fund the roughly $6,000 revitalization, Pearo turned to the Manorville Historical Society thrift shop, located in the basement of the schoolhouse. The thrift shop relies on used-goods donations from the community as its inventory.
“Thankfully, we have the thrift shop. People donate their old clothes to the basement thrift shop and we sell them to the community. The thrift store downstairs is what made this possible,” said Pearo, explaining that in addition to the thrift shop, the Manorville Historical Society hosts community fundraisers each year that make projects like this one possible.
Asked about future revitalization plans for the schoolhouse, Pearo replied, “We’ve been saving up for three years for this renovation. Next up is the roof!”
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