Sweet Home Common School No.15


Sweet Home Common School #15 was originally located on the east side of Sweet Home Road, south of Tonawanda Creek Road, 1/4 mile from the Erie Barge Canal. German-speaking families, who had emigrated from the Alsace-Lorraine region on the border of Germany and France, populated this area of northwest Amherst known as the "French Settlement." These settlers traveled the Erie Canal to their new homes in rural Amherst, where farmland was plentiful. The Sweet Home School was built in 1847 and used as a one-room school for grades 1-8 until 1948. It retains many of its major elements and is essentially a farm-type building, constructed by farmers rather than carpenters. Families served by the Sweet Home School cared for the building well throughout its use, and it survived basically intact, an accurate reflection of a typical rural school before the Civil War. The Sweet Home School was built at a cost of $125 on land purchased for $20, all funds raised by the voters living in what was known as Sweet Home District #15. As with any immigrant community, construction of a school was a top priority. The school is a one-story wooden structure with a plank exterior covered in clapboarding. It has a wood-shingled roof, pine board ceiling, board flooring and walls of lath covered with plaster. Shelving was constructed around the room for use as a desk surface for pupils, and corresponding benches provided seating. A closet on the rear wall held classroom supplies. The school was heated by a wood stove. The faded and nicked "Prussian Blue" interior paint remains as it was over 100 years ago, a typical color and condition for a mid-19th-century school. All furnishings are reproductions, except for the original "sandbox" where children learned to make letters of the alphabet with a stylus in sand. Paper was a luxury in a mid-19th-century farming community, and from the sandbox, young writers would go on to use a slate. The teacher utilized a raised wooden platform in the front of the room. In 1847, the first teacher, Mathias Fuller, was paid $14 a month. Teachers usually boarded with a local farm family. The two small rooms on either side of the door are separate cloakrooms for girls and boys. In the early 19th century, the common or rural school was primarily under local control and served as the community's center of learning, teaching the traditional 3 R's to its children. Four common school districts would eventually consolidate to become what is now known as the Sweet Home Central School District. Sweet Home Common School #15 is a good example of rural vernacular architecture, representing the center of everyday life in an immigrant community, as well as 100 years of history in the Sweet Home School District.

Near Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst,
Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village; marker sponsor: Amherst Women's Interclub Council
Official (Historical Marker Database)
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