Almost a century later, student revisits her one-room schoolhouse

Mary Leitch, 101, signed the blackboard at the Irondale Schoolhouse in Millerton on Saturday, May 25. She attended the school through second grade.

John Coston

Almost a century later, student revisits her one-room schoolhouse

MILLERTON — Mary Leitch was retracing her steps as she entered the one-room Irondale Schoolhouse on Saturday, May 25.

At 101 years old, Leitch, of Amenia, has rich memories of the time she and her sister Florence sat in class next to each other in a double seat, including when the teacher’s husband would come in and play Santa for the children.

The Irondale Schoolhouse on Main Street opened for the season on May 25 with free ice cream sundaes and tours of the historical site, moved in 2013 to Millerton to serve as a public information and visitor center managed by the Friends of the Irondale Schoolhouse.

Visitors Lillian and Estelle Cichetti, aged 7 and 5 respectively, from Pine Plains, were occupied making their own sundae treats.

Lillian, right, and Estelle Cichetti, aged 7 and 5 respectively, from Pine Plains, made their own sundae treats on Saturday, May 25, at the season opening of the historic, one-room Irondale Schoolhouse. John Coston


Leitch was about Lillian’s age when the schoolhouse closed and she moved on to Millerton High School. She chucked a bit when someone pointed out that she went from second grade to high school.

Leitch’s walk to the Irondale school was down a hill, through a field and then up Route 22. Upon graduation from high school, Leitch started work doing housework and then worked in a laundry. Her father, Antonio, was a masonry contractor and her mother, Alena, was a stay-at-home mom.

Prompted for a photo-op Leitch, who had been ensconced in a chair in front of the building, she walked inside. Glancing around, she recalled memory after memory of a childhood partly spent there. She seemed to possess a photographic record.

“That’s where the teacher was,” she said, pointing to the front wall.

“I sat up front,” she said, with my sister.

The Irondale Schoolhouse, with records dating back to 1858, was one of fourteen one-room schoolhouses in the Town of North East. It was closed in 1930.

The photo-op: Leitch strolled to the blackboard and signed her name. Then turned and gave a little smile.

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