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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Amherst in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Sweet Home Common School No.15

c.1847

 
 
Sweet Home Common School No.15 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
1. Sweet Home Common School No.15 Marker
Inscription. Sweet Home Common School #15 was originally located on the east side of Sweet Home Road, south of Tonawanda Creek Road, 1/4 mile from the Erie Barge Canal. German-speaking families, who had emigrated from the Alsace-Lorraine region on the border of Germany and France, populated this area of northwest Amherst known as the "French Settlement." These settlers traveled the Erie Canal to their new homes in rural Amherst, where farmland was plentiful.

The Sweet Home School was built in 1847 and used as a one-room school for grades 1-8 until 1948. It retains many of its major elements and is essentially a farm-type building, constructed by farmers rather than carpenters. Families served by the Sweet Home School cared for the building well throughout its use, and it survived basically intact, an accurate reflection of a typical rural school before the Civil War.

The Sweet Home School was built at a cost of $125 on land purchased for $20, all funds raised by the voters living in what was known as Sweet Home District #15.

As with any immigrant community, construction of a school was a top priority.

The school is a one-story wooden structure with a plank exterior covered in clapboarding. It has a wood-shingled roof, pine board ceiling, board flooring and walls of lath covered with plaster. Shelving was constructed
West Side image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
2. West Side
around the room for use as a desk surface for pupils, and corresponding benches provided seating. A closet on the rear wall held classroom supplies. The school was heated by a wood stove.

The faded and nicked "Prussian Blue" interior paint remains as it was over 100 years ago, a typical color and condition for a mid-19th-century school.

All furnishings are reproductions, except for the original "sandbox" where children learned to make letters of the alphabet with a stylus in sand. Paper was a luxury in a mid-19th-century farming community, and from the sandbox, young writers would go on to use a slate.

The teacher utilized a raised wooden platform in the front of the room. In 1847, the first teacher, Mathias Fuller, was paid $14 a month. Teachers usually boarded with a local farm family. The two small rooms on either side of the door are separate cloakrooms for girls and boys.

In the early 19th century, the common or rural school was primarily under local control and served as the community's center of learning, teaching the traditional 3 R's to its children. Four common school districts would eventually consolidate to become what is now known as the Sweet Home Central School District.

Sweet Home Common School #15 is a good example of rural vernacular architecture, representing the center of everyday life in an immigrant community, as well
Back image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
3. Back
as 100 years of history in the Sweet Home School District.
 
Erected by Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village; marker sponsor: Amherst Women's Interclub Council.
 
Location. 43° 4.921′ N, 78° 43.784′ W. Marker is in Amherst, New York, in Erie County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Tonawanda Creek Road and New Road. Touch for map. Marker is on the grounds of the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road, Buffalo NY 14228, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bigelow House (within shouting distance of this marker); Williamsville School No.9 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Transit Road Church (about 400 feet away); The Erie Canal at Amherst (approx. 0.2 miles away); Grand Erie Canal (approx. 0.3 miles away); Pendleton (approx. 0.4 miles away); Town of Clarence - Swormville (approx. 3 miles away); Controlling Water in the Erie Canal (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Amherst.
 
Also see . . .  Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. (Submitted on May 19, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
 
Categories. Education
 
East Side image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
4. East Side
Sweet Home Common School No.15 & Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
5. Sweet Home Common School No.15 & Marker
Sweet Home Common School No.15 Display image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 8, 2015
6. Sweet Home Common School No.15 Display
Inside the main museum building. The information/map panel reads:
Sweet Home School. This schoolhouse was built in 1847 on the east side of Sweet Home Road just south of Tonawanda Creek. It was donated to the Museum in the late 1970s by the Sweet Home School District. This building was moved directly to the Museum's current site.

Although in poor condition (as most buildings were when they first arrived) saving it was a priority for the Museum.

It is one of the earliest one-room schoolhouses in Erie County and today looks much as it did in 1848.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 179 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 19, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.
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