Little Red Schoolhouse open Sunday for tours

With a new bell and paint job, the Peter Parley Schoolhouse will have an open house on Sunday, June 25, from 1 to 4.

“It’s free, as always,” said Donna Warren, who heads the Ridgefield Historical Society’s efforts to maintain the schoolhouse and periodically open it to the public.

At the June 25 open house, there will a demonstration of writing with a quill pen and people will have a chance to learn the skill. An antique car is expected at the schoolhouse — unless it rains, in which case the car stays home.

The schoolhouse, in the triangle at the intersection of West Lane and South Salem Road (Route 35), is set up as an old fashioned desks and chalkboards and other artifacts demonstrating the early American schooling. It is also known as “the West Lane school house” and, sometimes, “the little red schoolhouse.”

The schoolhouse was named after Samuel G. Goodrich, who lived from 1793 to 1860, grew up in Ridgefield and attended the schoolhouse, and wrote under the pen name Peter Parley. He was the author of more than 170 books, many of them aimed at school children, combining lessons in history and natural science with anecdotes. His work is considered a significant contribution to the development of the school textbook.

Ridgefield once had 14 neighborhood schoolhouses. Three remain in town ownership: the Peter Parley Schoolhouse; the Branchville schoolhouse, which is in disrepair and used for storage off Old Branchville Road; and the former Titicus School off North Salem Road which now serves as American Legion Hall.

The other five remaining schoolhouse in Ridgefield are privately owned. Four are homes and one serves an art studio.

The Peter Parley Schoolhouse dates to 1756. It was closed in 1915.

“It’s been closed for over 100 years,” Donna Warren said. “It still stands, and it’s in pretty darn good shape.”

For the open house there’ll parking at a neighboring property, with signs directing drivers to it.