Warsaw's Schools

Warsaw's First Log-cabin Schools

        The first school in Warsaw was taught by Samuel McWhorter, about the year 1807 in a log house which Amos Keeney had built in 1804. The log school house had been occupied by Mr. Keeney as a dwelling until 1806.  This house stood in what was the south part of the village of Warsaw, now Cottage Court.  It was exceedingly crude and was considered scarcely comfortable.  No record is given of the scholars who attended.  Mr. McWhorter was considered the most educated man in Warsaw and held many offices of responsibility in the Town of Warsaw and the then County of Genesee.

       In the winter of 1807 and 1808, another school was taught in a vacant log house on the Leroy Road north of Warsaw, a mile from the town line.  A frame school was built at the intersection of Wyoming and Leroy Roads in 1817 on land leased gratuitously for school purposes by Josiah Hewett. It came to be known as the Browndale school and was used until 1930.

     In 1807 another log-house school was built at the second cross roads directly west of the village.  This became the Erie school.

      At South Warsaw, two log schools were built, one on Munger's Mill Road and the other north of the more recent site of the South Warsaw school.  The South Warsaw School closed in 1947.  Recently, the owners of the old school donated the school's bell to the Warsaw Historical Society. Click here to see the old South Warsaw School

       To serve the eastern part of the town, a large log school house was built in 1811 at the fork of the road, a mile and a half east of Warsaw village. It burned ten  years later and was rebuilt becoming known as the Smallwood School.

        In 1816 Amy Martin, afterwards Mrs. Clark, taught a school in a log house, the residence of Samuel Salisbury, some three miles southwest of the village.

        These school houses being crudely built of logs, with fire places and chimneys, were roofed and shingled with shakes, a material resembling staves for flour barrels.  The writing desks were made by boring large holes in the sides of the house, slanting downwards from the wall Wooden pins were driven into them upon which boards were fastened. The result was that the pupils were writing facing the wall.  It was a vain attempt to make a place of study. 

The most common of all questions coming from the remote parts of the school were: "Master, may I go to the fire?' Often the "Master" annoyed by this continued question would respond with an emphatic "No!"  The pupils were relieved by the arrival of twelve or four o'clock with the very welcome word of "Dismissed."

Not only were the school houses uncomfortable but the course of instruction and the qualifications of teachers were very limited.  Only the three R's were taught and the pupils' attention was satisfied when they could "cipher" to the end of the "Single Rules of Three" which in popular work came before Fractions.  Few teachers had knowledge of grammar.  Little or no geography was taught. An atlas, later considered indispensable, was never seen.  Writing was not done at any fixed time.  None but goose-quill pens were used.  To make and mend the pens and "set copies" for the pupils took no small portion of a teacher's time and was often done during reading and other exercises in which mistakes went unnoticed.

          The black board had not been invented and arithmetic was not taught in classes. Voices, however, would be heard from different parts of the room, shouting, "master, I can't do this sum," or "Master," please show me how to do this sum."  Questions asking liberty to "go out", "to go and get a drink," etc., along with calls for "help" or loud questions as to how to pronounce the hard words kept the school room in a constant bustle.

There were, however, some good teachers who could keep better control.  Those who could afford it sent their childen to "select" schools which were privately financed.  In general it seemed advisable to parents to at least send their girls to such "select" schools where they were taught needle-work and schooled in the social graces.

The need for better education soon became obligatory in the town as a whole.  The first schools had become obsolete and had to be replaced.  On the 11th of November, 1813 Elizur Webster, John W. Bronson and Samuel McWhorter were appointed as commissioners of the common schools. Russell Noble, Richard Bristol, Chester Warren and Samuel Hough became Trustees of common schools in the town of Warsaw.  A few days afterward, they divided the town into nine school districts.

Click here to read about Andrew W. Young's early education.

Click here for history of the Seth M. Gates House linkages to early education in Warsaw.

The Warsaw Academy

           In 1846 the School Commissioners serving as a Board of Education built the Academy, the present Masonic Temple of cobble stones gathered from the fields of the east hill. This was to serve the new district 10 which included 9, 10 and 11 and part of 8 and cost $1500.

           In 1853 they "ingrafted" an academic department and built the brick wing on the south side of the building at a cost $800.  At the same time two branch schools for elementary work were built on Brooklyn and Genesee Streets.  Academic instruction was poorly organized in the period between 1853 and 1873 but by 1877, it was improved and the first graduation resulted. A new high school was built on West Buffalo Street on the site of the present Warsaw Central School in 1873.  In 1900 an addition was built on the northeast corner of the school. In 1914 a new addition fronting in West Buffalo Street was erected at a cost of $59,000.

Warsaw's Modern School Buildings

           The Warsaw Central School District was formed in 1949 by combining the Warsaw High School with nineteen rural districts with one district came later.  A new building to replace the old high school was construction 1952-54 which cost $2,100,000. The school population kept growing after 1954 so that the Board of Education was faced with the proposition of an addition to the present site or building a new elementary school on another site.  It seemed wise to select the new site where additional space was available. Accordingly, a new Elementary school for three grades was built on a site across West Court Street and north of the Main School at a cost of $600,000.

Summarized from Quasquicentennial, 1968, Warsaw New York

                The Old Beardslee barn was left in tact on the site of the new school on West Buffalo Street after the Beardslee's home was demolished.

The barn constructed in about 1895 has cut stone at the base, with cedar shingles covering a wood frame above. The inventive motifs of this kind of structure offer good examples of the architectural idiom of H.H. Richardson.

Mr. Beardslee was the President of the village of Warsaw. One of his major contributions was to leave money to the Town of Warsaw to erect a public bath-house, later becoming the village pool.