The first school in Vernon Centre was a log cabin meeting house built in 1799 near the present playground. In 1812, the meeting house was replaced with the Congregational church’s first building, so a two-room schoolhouse was built near the present schoolhouse location (and it was red!).
Vernon Center Schools
Multiple schoolhouses, most of them one-room, were located around Vernon Center:
- District 1: corner of Norton and Arquint Roads at Marble Hill
- District 2: Corner of Skinner Rd and Gifford Rd
- District 3: (here, next to Vernon Center Green)
- District 11: Fancett Road
- District 14: Rottamore at Burns Rd (aka Hardscrabble)
In 1895, locals voted to expand the schoolhouse that was on the same spot, replacing the various one-room “district” schools with a union schoolhouse. Though many were hesitant to support the project, prominent resident and hops farmer F.A. Cody offered to back the school bond. Bids were put out, and architect Melvin H. Hubbard of Utica was chosen to design the new school, which stands today very much the same as when it opened in 1896.
This two-room schoolhouse served Vernon Center children from Sept 1896 until January, 1961. The room on the right was for ‘big kids’, grades 6-8, and on the left was for the younger kids.
When the Vernon Verona Sherrill Central School District was created in , various district schools were consolidated. This one became a primary school.
Vernon Center Teachers (a Partial List):
- Maude Dorn Ashforth
- Myrtle Dorn Law (sisters)
- Alice Rodemore Foster
- Rose Miller Lenhart
- Lorraine Van Hyning
- Josephine King Wessel
- Miss Nodine
- Mrs. Vidler
When Vernon Center students began attending school in Vernon in 1961, the building was sold to Doris Piper. She opened a craft shop and workshop on the right side, with the US Post Office taking its new home in the left side, where it remains to this day.
Mrs. Piper was a renown dulcimer builder, and her shop was named Dis Dat ‘n Dulcimers.
The Schoolhouse Through the Years
This photo from 1906 shows the school as it probably looked when built, with a 2-3 tone color scheme.
Class in action. also around 1906. Caption reads; Rithmetic on the Blackboard At Vernon Center School. Caroline M. Ames, Vernon Center, $5 first award.
*Caroline Ames was born in 1891 and became a teacher at Utica Free Academy after attending college at Cortland.
This was more recent, given the visibility of the sidewalk, and the turning of the stairs toward the street.
This photo from 1951 shows an all-white paint scheme.
This is believed to be the 1960s, after the US Post Office was established here.
In 1969, the film Sterile Cuckoo was filmed in Vernon Center (and at Hamilton College and Sylvan Beach), becoming the fictional town of Winslow, NY.
Here, Liza Minelli poses in front of the Schoolhouse. She was nominated for an Oscar for this performance, her first starring role.
And in 2020, shortly after we purchased it!
For more on the history of Vernon Center, Vernon and the Schoolhouse, visit