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Grenadier Island Schoolhouse nominated as site of national historic significance

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CAPE VINCENT — Grenadier Island’s schoolhouse, a 19th-century building near the middle of the island, has been nominated by the state Board of Historic Preservation to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the schoolhouse is not only a “rare surviving example of a late-19th century frame schoolhouse,” but is historically significant as it “remains in the same rural setting as when it was constructed.”

The privately owned schoolhouse was built in 1879 on the 1,290-acre island at the northeastern end of Lake Ontario and still is surrounded by grassland and forest.

“The school retains a high degree of architectural integrity to the nineteenth century, retaining its clapboard siding, stone foundation, rear ridge chimney, original outhouse, cast-iron stove, teacher’s platform and all of its interior finishes,” said Travis Bowman, a historic preservation program analyst with the state Historic Preservation office, in his nomination submission.

The schoolhouse and the adjacent outhouse are owned by seasonal resident J. Wyatt Uhlein III of New Canaan, Conn., who has kept the old desks, blackboard, classroom map rollers and cast-iron stove in the building.

While there were as many as three dozen families living on the island at one point, most abandoned it during the Great Depression. Grenadier Island Schoolhouse, aka School No. 16, was consolidated with many other small schools in the region in the 1940s. The only changes made to the school since it closed in 1942 are the asphalt roof singles and the replacement sash windows.

Once Grenadier’s schoolhouse is recognized as a national site of historical significance, it would be eligible for several state and federal revitalization and preservation grants, according to the Historic Preservation Office.

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