Prosper Homemakers Meeting, early 1960s

The following is an excerpt from two articles from 30 years ago by Kathy Wendling:

"Just a few miles north of Woodstock village on Route 12, an attractive stone building still stands. The lintel over the door says “1867,” the date this building was first opened as the Prosper School.

It replaced an earlier, wood-framed building that stood across the road. Since that date, the new school has hosted a number of students from the neighborhood. Today it serves as an integral part of the Prosper community; yesterday, its halls echoed the voices of countless children, many of whom, as adults, now live in the Woodstock area.

Around 1960 (we do not know the exact date), the Prosper Homemaker’s Club published a history of the school which they had purchased along with the Prosper Rifle Club. That history, some 32 pages in length, with illustrations from the attics of many of its graduates, serves as a model for what can be done to memorialize a school or other cherished building. Unfortunately, the only way to see a copy of this booklet now, is to find someone who saved it. We recommend that the Prosper Homemakers consider reissuing their special history.

Like so many one room schools of its era, this one had a big box stove in the center of the classroom. The wood was stored in a shed at the rear and brought in by the larger boys. Beyond the woodshed were the outhouses. Also typical was the water pail with its one dipper, all which was supplied each day by a neighbor. Ultimately, the State of Vermont required more modern facilities. The outhouses were replaced, first by chemical toilets and later by modem plumbing. The state actually decreed that common dippers must not be used for water dispensation and, with plumbing, were no longer needed. As for the box stove, it was replaced in the 1920’s with a wood furnace.

From the outset, this handsome building served as a community center. Just after the turn of the century, Mrs. Charles English conducted religious services and Sunday School for the area young. Evening functions included some school-related activities such as Halloween and Christmas parties and some strictly for the adults. From the time the Prosper Farmer’s Club was organized in 1916, it became the site of that organization’s meetings to keep its members up to date on the latest methods of farming. At about the same time the Prosper Homemaker’s Club was begun by Mrs. Burton Thompson and Mrs. Wilder. The latter group has continued to this day, looking after their beloved stone building.

A listing of the many teachers who held forth in this school includes many who, having begun in the town’s one room schools, later moved into the Woodstock Elementary School on South Street. Sarah E. Clapp taught here in two stints between 1894 and 1900. Later, as Sarah (Clapp) Maxham she shared teaching duties of the seventh and eighth grade at Woodstock Elementary School with Rachel LaCrosse. Many area people remember these two, longtime teachers."

"While it hasn’t been a school since 1944, the building is
 still serving its Prosper neighbors under the aegis of the
 Prosper Community Club. Most of our readers will have 
memories of wedding receptions, anniversary parties and a host of other special events including public elections staged there. Reading the booklet that Marion Lewis Piastro wrote about this school, we are struck by the number of people, now living in this area, who trace their early days to that school. The large Lewis clan, the Cobbs, Wardwells, Austin, Nevins and Thompsons all passed through this school as students. Judging from the success in the lives of these Prosper School alumni, we must infer that their early education was also a success.

The camaraderie of playing fox and geese in the snow, the school picnics and the many teachers that served them all lingered as fond memories for former students even thirty years ago when Mrs. Piastro was collecting pictures and recollections. While there are fewer people living today who share these memories, that very fact lends emphasis to the need for similar compilations of picture and story of other such neighborhood institutions."

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