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Memories of Green’s Corners School

By: Bob Cudmore

Date: 2017-07-22

Memories of Green’s Corners School
By Bob Cudmore, Focus on History, Daily Gazette, 07-22-17

When Ann Farina attended Green’s Corners School on Potter Road in West Glenville in the 1920s, she was known by her maiden name, Anna Mae Belfance.

The Belfance family lived on Touareuna Road and she walked a mile to and from school most days, although she sometimes got a ride. Her brother got to school early in winter to build a fire in the stove. The school day began with the salute to the flag and singing of “God Bless America.”

“The eighth grade was always in the back,” Farina told an open house at the recently renovated school. “Younger kids were in front. If we needed help they would send us to the back (for help) because we only had one teacher. She taught every subject and all eight grades.”

Farina said the one-room school seemed bigger to her as a child, commenting on a recent renovation by saying, “I think they shrunk it.” She said the school had a hallway where coats were hung and a library area where books were arranged.

All of the 28 students were from farm families like her own. Her father donated land across from the school that was used as a ballfield. At recess she would “talk to the girls,” adding “we had games to play.”

There was no electricity. All the students drank from a dipper in a communal water pail when they were thirsty. Students used outhouses behind the school.

Farina’s favorite teacher was Mrs. Burdick who encouraged her “to go on with school.” After Green’s Corners School, Farina graduated from Amsterdam High School, Royal Beauty Academy and Amsterdam Dancing School.

Farina, who now lives with her son and his family in Fultonville, celebrated her 100th birthday this year. She danced with her son Frank at her birthday celebration. Her grandson Peter Farina is known for operating an Italian tour and genealogical research company called Italy Mondo.

The Green’s Corners School was reportedly built in 1825 and closed in the 1930s or 1940s. In the 1970s Adrienne Karis led the effort to convince then Glenville town supervisor Doug Nichols to have the town acquire the structure from the building’s owners for one dollar. Karis said she felt the school was “so beautiful it should be kept.”

Scotia Rotary and other Glenville citizens turned the building into a museum. For many years Karis organized volunteers who led weekend tours. Karis and her guides, for example, would point out that in the early days, teachers made their own ink. Parents complained the ink stains on the girls’ clothing were almost impossible to remove. One teacher was reputed to have locked a misbehaving student inside a cabinet for punishment.

Eventually the building deteriorated and the museum closed in 2012. Four years ago the Rotary Clubs of Scotia and Glenville began a major restoration. At a cost of $65,000 the volunteers, with help from professional contractors, rebuilt the back wall, replaced the windows, interior walls, roof and floor.

“We’ve done some serious work,” said longtime Scotia Rotary member Bruce McConnelee of Burnt Hills. The volunteers cleaned 4,500 bricks from the deteriorated rear wall by hand and hired a specially trained mason to rebuild the wall. Children had carved their initials on the bricks. The new roof should be good for 50 years.

The town of Glenville is seeking volunteer tour guides for the school museum building, according to Supervisor Christopher Koetzle. The town still has the teacher’s desk and some student desks.

The Rotary Clubs are raising funds for the project by selling engraved brick pavers which will be incorporated into the front entranceway.