One of the original school districts established in 1829 was the #32 school, or Harmony School, between Milltown and Hockessin. The original Harmony School was built about 1818 as a rare positive result of one of the earlier generally ineffectual school laws. It was located on the west side of Limestone Road, about a half mile north of Paper Mill Road, probably just below where Jarrell Farms is now. It occupied that location until 1845, at which time the old school and property were sold, and a new site was acquired from local farmer William Torbert. The new school was to be situated on the east side of Limestone Road, across from its intersection with Paper Mill Road. A 1 1/2-story stone schoolhouse was built, approximately 30 x 40 feet, with a small cupola and a bell on top. In 1900, a wood-frame porch was added to the front (south) end, and the bell and cupola were replaced with new ones in 1907.
|Harmony School and class, 1895|
Other than a few small upgrades over the years, like moving from a wood-burning stove, to a coal pot-belly stove, and finally to an oil heater, the school changed very little over its lifespan. And quite an impressive lifespan did it have! After opening its doors in 1845, the Harmony School operated for the next 111 years, not closing until June 1956. After it did close as a school, replaced by larger, more modern schools serving the increasingly suburban area, the school continued to be used as a residence. During this time period, there were multiple changes made to the interior of the structure, but very little to the exterior. The pair of outhouses that once sat behind the school were removed, however, replaced by sheds and a garage.
Tacked on to the end of the school's National Register nomination form is a wonderful little essay, written and updated by alumni of the school, and read at the 100th, 110th, and 125th anniversaries of the school. As storied as the past has been for the little Harmony School, its future is very much in doubt. The residents of the schoolhouse moved out long ago, and the building and land are now owned by DelDOT. As this Community News article states, DelDOT would very much like to be rid of the schoolhouse, as it has become a liability and all-around nuisance to them. The Hockessin Historical Society has said it would like to move the school and place it near Tweed's Tavern on Valley Road, but they don't have the funds to do so yet. I wish them lots of luck in their efforts to preserve one of the last remaining one-room schoolhouses that were so much a part of the area in the 19th century.