Cataumet Schoolhouse Preservation Group
Our mission is to promote the Cataumet Schoolhouse building as a location for educational, cultural and recreational activities available to the community and the general public.
Profile: The Cataumet Schoolhouse in 2011
Through sheer determination and optimism, a group of Cataumet residents banded together in the late 1990’s and turned a delapidated old (1894) school building at 1200 County Road, in the middle of the village, into a magnet for community events. In 1999 the Cataumet Schoolhouse Preservation Group (CSPG) was founded, and under the guidance of the Program in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, and the generosity of numerous donors and volunteers, the process was begun of restoring and refurbishing the building to replicate as authentically as possible an 1894 schoolhouse. Today the flag flies over the beautifully restored building, and for the past half dozen years the school and schoolyard have been host to hundreds of visitors and participants at a variety of fun and fascinating events and programs.
The mission of the CSPG was clearly stated at the outset: “To promote as a location for educational, cultural and recreational activities available to the community and the general public, the Cataumet Schoolhouse building.” In the past years a wide range of events have been held, and the board is still seeking ways to expand the effectiveness and community-building capacity of this small property, in accordance with its mission. Among the varied events have been soapmaking for kids, art shows co-sponsored with the Cataumet Arts Center, craft shows, flea markets, weddings, talks on local history, raffles and cookouts, among others. This year’s special events will include the Antique Auto Show and Picnic (Aug. 7), Tuesday Talks on “Lands and Landscapes of Cape Cod” (Aug. 2, 9, 16, and 30), and the popular Holiday Fair (Dec. 3).
The Catumet Schoolhouse is also ideal for a program that recreates the atmosphere and setting of a traditional, one-room school. The antique desks are arranged with the littlest ones in the front, and a nineteenth century US map hangs on the back wall. Portraits of Washington and Lincoln look down from the walls above the original blackboards. The teacher’s desk is equipped with an inkwell and an old handbell, probably used in a similar school to call the class to order. Throughout the fall, third grade classes help fulfill their history requirement by visiting for a day of first hand experience of what it was like when countless American children went to school in one room schoolhouses. Re-creations of traditional area studies, activities, and games are presented by board members (who are often retired grade school teachers, themselves). It is hoped that such experiences might help kindle a fascination with history, and the past more generally, which can become a lifetime preoccupation. Such visits to the schoolhouse are worth more than a thousand words in helping kids understand “the way it was.”
Thanks to goals shared with other local organizations, such as the Bourne Conservation Trust, Cataumet Arts Center, and Cataumet Civic Associates, the CSPG is helping make the village a more vibrant and exciting place to live and visit. In 2009 a partnership was formed to found and run the Valley Farm Thrift Store, establishing a source of income to help defray expenses, but the Cataumet Schoolhouse still depends on the generosity of residents and visitors for its operating budget. To get on the mailing list for our annual Newsletter or for announcements of programs and activities you may visit www.cataumetschoolhouse.org ; visit us on Facebook: Cataumet Schoolhouse , or call 774-238-0007. Or best of all, come and see us!
Through a partnership with the Bourne Public Schools, we provide informational field trips for the third grade students throughout town to help students and teachers fulfill their history requirements. We provide classroom visits, followed by visits to the schoolhouse another day.
We also sponsor a Lecture Series in August (Tuesday Talks) on various topics. This year’s theme will be The Nature of Cape Cod. Refer to our Calendar of Events as well as other activiies sponsored by our organization.