New status for old school

National Registry designation will help Rosendale receive grants for restoration

One of Niskayuna's oldest buildings will undergo preservation efforts to bring an old school back to the days of its prime.

The Rosendale Common School, later known as the Niskayuna Grange Hall #1542, was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built around the 1850s, the school retains many important architectural features. In June 1948, the school building was sold to the Niskayuna Grange, which played a vital role in the agricultural economy of time.

It is considered a rare and intact example of 19th century schoolhouse, said Dan Keefe, spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The school is constructed of wood and locally quarried limestone, which where materials that were abundant during construction. Some of the surviving architectural features are the shutters, windows and Victorian entrance doors.

Keefe said the newly acquired status allows the town to apply for certain national programs to help facilitate improvements.

"We are very pleased that it is placed on the register because it will allow us to receive funding from various preservation sources," said Town Supervisor Joe Landry. "It is locked up right now, and we're planning on working with ECOS, so that it has a public use."

The Town Board passed a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 31, for the town to enter into an agreement with the not-for-profit ECOS: The Environmental Clearinghouse. The Rosendale Common School would become ECOS's office location.

Patrick Clear, executive director of ECOS, said Luke Smith, former town supervisor, had approached the group about moving into the building because it remained empty since the 1960's.

"It is right at the entrance of the Lisha Kill Nature Preserve and there is also two schools right near here," said Clear. "It is a great location in a residential neighborhood and the space is right. It is a former one-room schoolhouse, and we are a small organization. It is really a good size for us."

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