The Stewartstown Historical Society has been working with Hyson School owner Myrna Hyson Ross on the restoration of the original stone Hyson School. Society president Dr. Donald Linebaugh has been providing technical preservation, documentation, and archaeology support, and vice president Doug Winemiller has gathered historical photos for the project. The restoration work is being performed by contractor Scott Neal, owner of Northbrook Landscape, and his crew.  


Initial work included clearing of the area around the school, temporary stabilization of the collapsing north wall, cleaning of the exterior mortar joints, removal of the interior room partitions (added when the building became a home), removal of the interior floor and joints, and disassembly of the north wall. Subsequent work has included stabilizing the shallow foundation, rebuilding of the north wall, reinstalling the north wall windows frames, and preparing to pour a concrete floor. Work over the next few weeks will include completion of the concrete floor, reinstallation of the original floor joists and flooring, installation of a new summer beam and king post truss, reroofing, and finish carpentry on the windows and trim. Finally, the exterior will be repointed with a lime-based mortar.


While the floor was removed from the interior, Dr. Linebaugh conducted limited archaeological excavations inside the building. When the floor was removed, the crew found many artifacts, including bottles, window glass, bones, and ceramics, on the ground surface beneath the floor. Excavation in the northwest quarter of the interior revealed a layer of dense artifacts, possibly a cellar deposit. 


Board member Roger Wilson and co-author Kathryn Jordan, currently working on a book about one-room schools in the South Eastern School District, indicate that the Hyson School is possibly among the oldest in our area. Although research is still underway, the school could date to the late 1830s or early 1840s, the very beginnings of public schools in Pennsylvania.


The one-room stone building was used as a school until the construction of the “new” frame Hyson School in the early 1890s. Once the new school was built across the street, the stone structure was repurposed as a dwelling and occupied into the 20th century.  Artifacts recovered from below the floor include materials that represent both uses of the building. For example, the discovery of several slate pencils and a bottle with traces of blue ink speaks to a space filled with young scholars hard at work. Similarly, fragments of redware and stoneware crocks, and white tableware, along with personal objects like buttons and a thimble, document the use of the building as a residence in the very late 19th and early 20th century. 


With the north wall rebuilt, the building is on its way to renewal and will soon be a wonderful setting for learning about early education in southern Pennsylvania. Stewartstown Historical Society member and owner of the school Myrna Hyson Ross is to be commended for undertaking this important preservation project. Please watch this website for photos and updates on the Hyson School project, and also check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northbrook-Landscape/159889410701110.      .        


Hyson School Renovation Gallery