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Friends of Epler’s Schoolhouse to host open house and used book sale

The Friends of Epler’s Schoolhouse will celebrate the first anniversary of the one-room school’s grand reopening with an open house June 15.

Members of the group responsible for rescuing the aged building and moving it to the grounds of the Berks Heritage Center, Bern Township, will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about public education in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“What we are doing is preserving history and educating people about what it was like to go to school here 100 to 150 years ago,” said Gary Lantz, who serves on the friends board of directors and acts as a consultant to its executive committee.

In rural areas outside the city, he said, most children attended one-room schools from first through eighth grades, and each of the county’s townships had several of the small buildings.

Epler’s School was one of 11 one-room schools that served Bern Township, Lantz noted.

Built in 1847, it operated until 1931, when the district discontinued the one-room system.

In an unusual arrangement, he said, the building’s ownership then reverted to the owner of the land on which it stood.

By 2019, what had been farmland was being offered for development as an industrial park and the schoolhouse was in danger of demolition.

That’s when the 40-plus-strong friends group stepped in. Members raised funds and pressured county officials to save the building.

Their efforts paid off near the end of 2019, when the county commissions voted to have the county foot half of the $211,000 bill to move the school.

Since then, the friends raised the funds needed to restore the rear wall of the building and its interior and open it to the public, Lantz said.

“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of elementary school kids come through,” he said. “And naturally, on the weekends when the Heritage Center is open, we have a lot of families come through.”

With the building’s interior now in good shape, Lantz said, the friends have turned their attention to the exterior.

Funds are needed to restore the windows and recreate the wooden shutters, seen in old photographs of the school, he said.

To that end, the friends will hold a gently used book sale in conjunction with the open house.

“We will also be giving out commemorative markers showing a picture of the school,” Lantz said.

The complimentary bookmarkers will be distributed to visitors June 15 while supplies last.

For more information, visit the friends’ Facebook page at

Source: Berkshire mont

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