The Columbia County Historical Society has announced the ca. 1850 Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, located on Route 9H in Kinderhook, has been nominated to the New York State Register of Historic Places after a unanimous vote by the State Board for Historic Preservation.
The nomination will now be reviewed by the National Park Service for inclusion on the National Register. A second Columbia County structure, the Harder Mill in Hudson, was also nominated.
The State and National Registers of Historic Places are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture of New York and the nation. The same eligibility criteria are used for both the State and National Registers.
Owned and maintained by CCHS, the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse was built circa 1850 to replace an earlier school where Jesse Merwin served as schoolmaster. Merwin was a Kinderhook resident and friend of author Washington Irving.
In a correspondence, Irving addressed Merwin as “the original Ichabod Crane” — the schoolteacher character made famous in Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Merwin was also an acquaintance of Martin Van Buren, and in 1846 the former president offered his testimony that Merwin had been the “pattern” for Crane.
The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse served local children of the Town of Kinderhook as District Schoolhouse #6 until the 1940s. In 1952, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt delivered a radio address from the schoolhouse acknowledging the work of local women in converting the former school into a community center.
In 1974, the building was moved less than 200 yards from its original location to its present location on the property of the 1737 Luykas Van Alen House (also owned and operated by CCHS), where it reopened as a museum of early schoolhouse education. It remains an excellent and intact example of a rural, one-room schoolhouse with a gable roof, clapboard siding and single pent-roofed entrance.
Though both historic buildings are closed for the season, the 33-acre property is home to a permanent exhibit of narrative panels that interpret various aspects of the site’s history. The exhibit is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.
For more information visit the Columbia County Historical Society website.
Photo of 1850 Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse provided.
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