Oakdale Schoolhouse: one room, one million memories

·3 min read

Aug. 23—HUNLOCK CREEK — The Oakdale School may have been a one room schoolhouse, but it still contains millions of memories.

Built around 1890, the Oakdale Schoolhouse sits atop a hill off of Pritchard Street, and recently it has been undergoing a preservation project. The Hunlock Creek Historical Society held an Open House on Saturday, Aug. 14, to showcase the finished product.

At the open house, the guests of honor were Pat Hess and Marjorie Bonham — two former teachers who taught in area one room schoolhouses in the 1940s and 1950s.

In fact, Hess taught at the Oakdale Schoolhouse, and she was reunited at the open house with some of her former students.

Built around 1890, the school closed around 1954, when the schools were consolidated into the Northwest Area School District. The Miller family owned the building until 2018 when they donated it to the Hunlock Creek Historical Society. The Historical Society has been working on its restoration, and it is very close to completion.

The Oakdale School is one of the last one-room schoolhouses still standing in Luzerne County. It's one of six, one-room schoolhouses that were part of the educational system in Hunlock Township in the days long before school buses, cafeterias and indoor plumbing.

In a June 2019, story in the Times Leader, Don Sorber, president of the Hunlock Creek Historical Society that was created to preserve the history of Hunlock Township, said, "This is what's left of history right here."

Hunlock Township's other five one-room schoolhouses are either gone, or they have been converted into homes — Van Horn School, Crooptown School, Santee School, Sorbertown School and Rock School.

Sorber attended Crooptown and he said he and others have several desks from the one room schoolhouses that will be placed in Oakdale at the completion of the project. When the preservation project began in 2019, the floor needed to be replaced.

Parts of the original blackboard remain inside, as does the cursive alphabet that was on the front wall of the school behind the teacher's desk. Wainscoting still runs along the interior walls, but Sorber couldn't say if it was original. Outside, the foundations remain where the boys' and girls' outhouses once stood.

The Historical Society hopes to bring students to Oakdale to let them see what it was like back then, as well as host tours for the public.

Oakdale had no air conditioning, no electricity or indoor bathrooms. And for a drink of water, there was one bucket and one ladle.

Oakdale history

According to information provided by Matthew Pugh of the Hunlock Creek Historical Society, Abram Garthwaite, a local farmer, donated part of his land to the School Board of Hunlock Township in 1886. Garthwaite was Pugh's great-great-great-grandfather.

The Oakdale School was constructed some time after they were deeded the property.

Directions to Oakdale

The address is 440 Pritchard's Road, Hunlock Township.

Take Route 11 south and turn right onto Main Road, Hunlock Creek. Follow this for 4 miles and turn right on Old Tavern Road.

Stay on this road until you hit the first stop sign. That's Pritchard's Corners. Make a right and follow the road until you see a road on the right called Oakdale Drive. Make a right and park at the church. You can walk back to the Oakdale School on the hill.

The Oakdale Cemetery is there too, so you can't miss it.

How you can help

If you want to donate to the restoration project for the Oakdale School in Hunlock Township, send to:

Hunlock Creek Historical Society

P.O. Box 51

Hunlock Creek, PA 18621

The society is a 501 (c) (3) registered nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible.

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