- Grant Recipient
- South Woods Drive, Thompson, NY
- 41.670094, -74.741376
Town of Thompson
Before education was mandatory in New York State, many counties and churches built school houses for primary education. The passage of the “Act to secure to children the benefits of elementary education” on May 11, 1874, required parents to enroll any children under the age of 14 in primary education under penalty of fines and possible loss of custody if they consistently refused to comply with the law. The act also prohibited the employment of children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old during any school hours. (Laws of the State of New York, 1874) This further spurred the construction of many schools. But due to the lack of infrastructure and the more basic curriculums of the time, schools did not start off as the centralized K-12 school districts we know today. Instead, one room schools with a single teacher instructing a mixed-age group of students were the norm. Sullivan County constructed a number of one room school houses beginning in the mid-19th century into the early 20th century, and in 1900 the county was one of the few in New York State that received more money from the state government for education, $24,430, than it paid towards the state. (Sullivan County Record, 1900) Most of these schools closed in the 1940s or ‘50s as modern school districts were consolidated.
In 1854, the trustees of the Town of Thompson’s School District #18 purchased the property on which Southwoods School had already stood for some time, according to a Sullivan County Deed. According to a former student, Southwoods School closed in 1943 and its last teacher was Minerva Litts. The property was later sold in 1957 by the trustees of the former school district to private individuals, and the land again changed hands in 1983, according to deeds from the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office.