The Stony Point Historical Society, together with members of the Stony Point Town Council and other elected officials, held a brief ceremony Wednesday night, October 1 to thank Senator William Larkin for securing a $50,000 grant paving the way towards the completion of the Pyngyp Schoolhouse renovation.
Pyngyp “provides a personal tone to the town’s voice,” Senator Larkin said, even referring to the schoolhouse as the town’s “crown” at one point. The senator noted the renovated building will offer a unique space for meetings and events, as well as a place where students today can get a glimpse of what life was like for students a hundred years ago.
“It was easy to show the senator that this was no pipedream,” said Stony Point Councilman Tom Basile, who had originally approached Larkin for his support on the project. “The renovations were already well underway, we had tremendous commitment from the community, and it was clear that all we needed was the final financial push to get us to the end.”
The project, spearheaded by the Historical Society, has been ongoing for the past three years, buoyed by an outpouring of support by the entire community. The building is owned by the Town of Stony Point, and is slated to be used as a community center and educational resource once all the work is finished.
The current Pyngyp one room schoolhouse, located on Route 210 at the intersection of Cedar Flats Road, was constructed around the turn of the 20th century, and replaced a previous structure that had existed since 1854. After it was closed in 1945, it was used as a storage space, and then a community meeting place for several decades. Over time various additions and modifications obscured many of the original features. Several years ago it fell into disuse and further decay.
In 2011 Historical Society President Susan Filgueras persuaded the Town to allow the Society to direct the schoolhouse restoration for the purpose of becoming a community center once again. Conveniently located close to the Palisades Interstate Parkway, it could also serve as a welcome center for tourists to the town.
Councilman Karl Javenes, who is also a general contractor, became the liaison for the Town Board while also lending his expertise and contacts to the project. Most of the labor and materials, including electrical, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, roofing, flooring, paint and building materials, have been donated by various local businesses and individuals. Non-conforming alterations to the original design, such as a brick fireplace and front porch which were added in the mid-nineteenth century, were removed and features such as the original wainscoting were restored.
Even with the generous donations and fundraising efforts by the community, however, additional money was still needed to complete the renovations. Thus, according to Javenes, the $50,000 grant, secured by Larkin from capital construction funds available only to municipalities, will enable the town and the Historical Society to complete the work within about a month.
“There are so many people to thank,” said Filgueras, “but we’re especially appreciative to Senator Larkin for his generous support.” In addition to Basile and Javenes, Councilman Jim Mohaghan, Legislator Doug Jobson, Stony Point Highway Superintendent Larry Brissing and Republican Party leader June Jobson all came out to show their appreciation.
Also in attendance was Jean O’Dell who, from the first to the third grades, attended the Pyngyp School. She remembers quite clearly the eight rows of students, separated by grade and gender, about 45 in all, presided over by a single teacher.
“Susan says I’m an artifact,” she said with a laugh, “but really, it’s great what she’s been doing to preserve the school as a part of Stony Point’s history.”