Concord School: A Labor of Love for Eleanor Ent of Pennsylvania
It was a perfect day in August for the 100+ guests who gathered to honor a schoolhouse and it's dedicated owner. After years of restoration and hard work, Eleanor Ent achieved her goal of having her schoolhouse enshrined in the National Registry of Historic Places. Friends, family, and former students gathered to celebrate the honor.
Word from the dedication:
"There are numerous categories for historic places on the registry; mansions, factories, churches, sites associated with historic events, historic districts with multiple buildings...but a schoolhouse is most special to those of us gathered today. A humble schoolhouse did not presume great wealth, it did not witness great historical events, it was not holy, it did not house an industry that made America great. Instead, our schoolhouses, unassuming structures that they were, produced generations of educated, productive, patriotic, and moral citizens.
Eleanor and Veronica Ent are charter members of the Country School Association of America, a national organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of our nations remaining country schools, and we are so proud of them today! They epitomize what our membership aspires to do...save our historic schools.
Schoolhouses hold a special place in our appreciation of historic places...why? We have all attended school here in America. School is part of our fiber and our being, a part of a national shared experience of attending public schools.
As a testimony to our nation's commitment to educating all its citizens, at the turn of the 20th century, it is estimated there were some 220,000 country schools in the United States...and now there are only a few thousand. Fortunately, New Alexandria houses a gem.
We met Eleanor and Veronica in 2007 when they presented the story of the restoration of the Concord School at the CSAA annual conference. They told of the run down little building on the edge of their farm that had hosted hundreds of scholars for generations until it was abandoned. They told of the near hopeless condition of the school with a wall sporting a massive hole and other structural issues. They debated the wisdom and the prospects of a restoration project and forged ahead. They spoke of reconstruction and grunt work and elbow grease and money issues. Even that would not deter Ellie when she set her mind to preservation after saving the Concord from the wrecking ball.
Here it stands in it's glory, receiving our nation's highest historic recognition. Here is the Concord Schoolhouse restored lovingly by a beautiful lady and her devoted children who saw the value of the little brick building with good bones and a story to tell. She marshalled the community to donate items they had bought at auction (when the contents were sold) to furnish the schoolhouse as it had been. She antiqued and collected and salvaged until she was satisfied that the Concord was whole again, outfitted as if students would return to their seats and pick up their lessons from yesteryear.
With the hard work behind them, the project would not be complete for Eleanor Ent until her little schoolhouse was enshrined in the National Register of Historic Places, a dream that would complete her mission.
And here we are today to pay homage to a lady who said yes to a schoolhouse that needed a savior when the odds were stacked against her. We honor her determination and her foresight, her love for a schoolhouse, and her belief that it was worthy of a second life."
Note: CSAA members from NJ, NH, TX, and NY attended the dedication ceremony to honor Ellie Ent and her family for their preservation work.
For a detailed newspaper article highlighting the event access the link below: