Plan to move historic schoolhouse waiting on state bill

The Rimmon Schoolhouse on Pinesbridge Road in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — As the 150th anniversary of the town of Beacon Falls approaches, plans to move the Rimmon Schoolhouse to land at the end of North Main Street rest on the state conveying the property to the town.

The schoolhouse at 101 Pinesbridge Road was built between 1779 and 1830. It was used as a school until the 1950s when Laurel Ledge Elementary School was built. Nadeem and Naila Khalid, who own the land where the schoolhouse is, have offered to donate the schoolhouse to the town. Officials are eyeing a state-owned parcel of land on North Main Street, just north of the Beacon Falls Police Department, as the new site for the schoolhouse.

Steven Ruhl, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the project is stalled while officials wait for the legislature to act on a bill to convey the land to the town.

The General Assembly is expected to convene a special session this week, said state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-105th District. She expected the bill to be on the agenda for the special session.

“It’s important to the town, and if it’s important to the town then it becomes important to me,” Klarides-Ditria said.

Local officials are hopeful the legislature will approve transferring the land to the town during the special session.

If the state approves the property transfer, Ruhl said town officials will consult contractors to determine the best way to physically transfer the schoolhouse, which has fallen into disrepair. Ruhl said a number of contractors have said they are willing to help with the move and repair of the building. He said the Rimmon Schoolhouse is one of the last historical buildings in town.

“If we don’t save this schoolhouse, then there’s not much left of the history that’s going to be around,” Ruhl said.

A member of the State Historical Society visited the building and verified that the walls are strong, according to Ruhl. The floor and roof of the schoolhouse are not salvageable and will be replaced once the walls are relocated. The size of the schoolhouse has been measured and will fit on the land on North Main Street.

Local officials are hoping to incorporate moving the schoolhouse with the celebration of the town’s 150th anniversary, which is June 30, 2021.

The Beacon Falls Historical Society is planning to sell commemorative bricks as a fundraiser for the town’s anniversary. Selectman Michael Krenesky, who is president of the historical society, said the plan is to use the bricks as the floor of the schoolhouse or to create a sidewalk area outside the building. Once the fundraiser is launched, bricks with personalized messages will be available for purchase.

“Anything we can do to preserve the past is something we will actively support,” Krenesky said.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the bricks will have a lasting memorial effect. He added the schoolhouse is well-known in town and represents the town’s humble beginnings.

“It helps you to be able to figure out where you’re going if you know where you come from and I think that is exactly what this school means to everybody in this town,” Bielik said.