Wear and tear too much to move schoolhouse

The Rimmon schoolhouse on Pinesbridge Road in Beacon Falls. Officials wanted to move the house to town-owned land but say that’s not possible because the schoolhouse is in disrepair. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Time and the elements have taken their toll on the historic one-room schoolhouse that sits off Pinesbridge Road. Now, officials are hoping to build a replica to keep its memory alive for future generations.

The Rimmon schoolhouse at 101 Pinesbridge Road was built sometime between 1779 and 1830, though there is disagreement about the exact date. The school was in use until the 1950s, when Laurel Ledge Elementary School was constructed, and has been sitting vacant for about six decades.

The property the school sits on is owned by Nadeem and Naila Khalid. The Khalids purchased the property for $4,000 in June 2010 from Raymond Lafferty, who owned it for 24 years, according to town records.

In recent years, the town has considered moving the school onto town property.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the Khalids were receptive to the idea of allowing the town to move the school.

However, Parks and Recreation Chairman Steve Ruhl told the Board of Selectmen last week that moving the school isn’t possible due to its condition.

Ruhl said he inspected the school earlier this month with Jason Palmieri of the Beacon Falls-based JTP Construction.

“Disappointingly, the school is in very bad shape,” Ruhl said. “Apparently the far side of the school must have been hit by some kind of debris. There are two large holes in the roof, which has allowed water to come in. The floor is rotten. There is lead peeling off the roof. There is asbestos on the chimney.”

Palmieri recommended that the town not try to move the building, Ruhl said.

The news of the building’s decay didn’t come as a shock for officials.

“We have checked the foundation and floor over the course of time because it sits in a wetlands area. The fact that it has been absorbing the water for decades at this point, there was an expectation that the investigation kind of confirmed,” Bielik said.

Ruhl proposed building an exact replica of the school on what is believed to be town-owned land along North Main Street next to the police department.

If all goes well, the building would be opened in time for the town’s 150th anniversary in 2021, Ruhl said.

“We can unveil a new building and a piece of history and tie it all together,” Ruhl said.

The board encouraged Ruhl to continue moving forward with the plan.

The next question the board has to answer is whether the town owns the property where the schoolhouse is proposed to be built.

“The sticking point would be is if it belongs to someone besides us, Connecticut [Department of Transportation] or something. That may be part of the old Route 8 footprint,” Bielik said.

Although finding the deed to the property may take some work, Bielik believes building a replica of the school is a worthy endeavor for the town.

“It sounds like there may be some research in it, but I think notionally the concept is a good one,” Bielik said.

Selectman Michael Krenesky supports the idea and said he would like to see if any part of the old schoolhouse can be incorporated into the replica.

“The old clapboard on the outside is in mixed shape, so there may some pieces that are worth saving. Is there enough to do one side of the building in the old stuff? I have no idea,” Krenesky said.

The Khalids could not be reached for comment.