|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Dedication to be held at Portville Bedford Corners Schoolhouse July 13th
After 13 years of hard work, the historical society is ready to show of the first of three buildings that
will become our Bedford Corners Museum. The following press release was written for the
newspaper recently by PHPS. An article also ran in the Olean Times Herald paper this week. This
year marks the 150th year for the building which was Portville School District No. 7 from 1864 until
The Portville Historical and Preservation Society is inviting the community
to the dedication of their restored school house at Bedford Corners on
Sunday morning, July 13, 2014, at 11:00 am. Senator Cathy Young will be
the guest of honor and the Portville Central Class of 1959 will dedicate their
class project of a lighted flag pole and memorial bricks.
There are three buildings in all at Bedford Corners, all in various stages of
renovation. The School House and Grange building at Bedford Corners
were deeded to the historical society in 2001 by Col. Charles Eshelman.
About that time, the Pfeiffer Nature Center was deeded another of Col.
Eshelman’s properties on the Yuba Dam Road. The remainder of Charles’
estate, the original 1860 Jacob Bedford home and property and land adjacent
to the school, came to the historical society in his will in 2010. The
Eshelman family had owned the Bedford home since the 1920’s and
fortunately maintained it in its original condition.
Restoration of the 1864 Schoolhouse has been a labor of love for many years
for members of the Society. Progress on the school house was slow until
PHPS received a legislative grant of $15,000 from Senator Young in 2006 to
kick start the restoration efforts. Since then, the building has been
completely restored inside and out, with the roof and part of the foundation
replaced, insulation and a heating system, new wiring, and new decks. The
funding also enabled them to recreate the bell tower that had been removed
back in the 1920’s.
The old pot-bellied wood stove that warmed the teacher and children for
many years has been cleaned and restored and the school will have similar
desks, books, and accessories that were used to educate the local children up
until the school’s closing in early 1950. Many of the desks are the original
“2 seaters” while others have come from some of the other schools in the
Portville District, each with their own tales to tell. Access to the school is
now ADA compliant and will be open for visitors starting that Sunday. A
regular schedule for being open has not yet been decided upon.
Last year, the Class of 1959 made a generous $5500 donation to fund a 30
foot flagpole that was recently installed in the front of the schoolhouse. The
pole is centered on a brick patio with a special section dedicated to the 68
members of their class. It features their class motto, “The Foundation of
Life is Built with the Bricks of Character.” Over one hundred fifty bricks
have already been engraved and the design can hold almost 700 bricks.
There are some memorial bricks for individuals and groups and other bricks
show names and the year graduated from Portville High or Portville Central
School. However, there are no set rules about the wording and anyone is
welcome to purchase a personal engraving from the Society.
There will be refreshments served immediately following the dedication of
the schoolhouse, featuring cake and beverages. The 1959 class members are
celebrating their 55th reunion year and several classmates once attended the
Bedford School. The class is a close-knit group, sending out semi-annual
newsletters to keep in touch with each other. Their generosity this year also
extends to two sizable scholarships for graduating PCS seniors, one for
$2000 and the other $1500, to be awarded at the Portville Alumni Banquet
on Friday night, July 11.
The historical society is hoping that the momentum created by the
completion of the Schoolhouse will carry over into the rest of their
renovation projects. The house has had all new infrastructure installed and
most of the remaining work is just cosmetic, plaster repairs and painting.
The Grange building was in need of structural repairs and a new roof which
it received last year. Their ultimate goal is to open the buildings as a set of
museums but there is no set schedule for completion since most work is done
on a volunteer basis.
PHPS has dedicated themselves to Bedford Corners in honor of Col.
Eshelman, whose desire to share its history motivated his generous
donations. The four corners form an historic district that is on the New
York State and National Register of Historic Places. When the Society
received the National Register Certificate in 2004, a member of the New
York State Parks and Historic Restoration Agency commented that the
Corners were unique in that all four corners were still original, a rarity in
New York State. The Bedford Corner School House is located in the Town
of Portville at 1290 Portville-Obi Road, 1.5 miles north of the Village, at the
intersection of Route 305 and Deer Creek and Dodge Creek Roads.
Welcome to PHPS
This page was last updated on 7-15-14
Terri Batt has a favorite scraper that she keeps in her car
so she is ready whenever she has a free moment.
Ronda Pollock checks in regularly to water her plants by
the front deck. They are a beautiful array of color. The
hostas were donated and planted around the flagpole by
Steve and Michele Mowrer of Dave's Diner.
Denny Cornell and Terry Keeley install the 30' flagpole with
the help of Dale Cornell (in the bucket) and Matt Faulkner,
who donated the use of the truck. The gears did not want
to work but Matt has the magic touch and it made things
much easier for the crew. Thanks Matt and Dale!
Terry Keeley stands back to look at the installed pole. He
is probably thinking about what to work on next. Denny
Cornell and Cindy Keeley laid the brick patio and to
complete the design, Terry cut the half bricks for every other
row. The largest of 3 boulders was found on the property
adjacent to the school. Denny donated the others.
A close up of the brick patio dedicated to the class of 1959
is shown with their 68 members and class motto at the
Photo by Thom Torrey, Class of 59
The new boulders are tested out by a couple of local kids.
They agree that these are fun for sitting or climbing.
Becky Mayo puts a new face on the old wood shed room.
She did lots of scraping in the big room so the finish coats
were very rewarding!
The prep on the wainscoting was very time consuming.
Some parts were burned off with a heat gun, while more
recently we just scraped with putty knives. Goodbye lead
There were several layers of paint underneath it all so we
had to try a few colors to get one we all liked. This was a
common color palette in one room schools back in the day.
The morning sun lights the patio and flagpole.
Thom Torrey volunteered to clean
up and paint the shutters. They are
ready to hang.
Emma and Anna Keeley did some planting too!
Gail Feuchter brought plants to share
from her own garden and planted them
all around the building with other
perennials that were purchased.