Making History Every Day
September & October, 2019, Volume 1, Issue 5
Oxford Historical Society, a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization
Twitchell Rowland Homestead Museum
60 Towner Lane, Oxford, CT 06478
Step by Step, Slowly….
September is here and the excavation for a founda-
tion and basement for the Munn Schoolhouse at the OHS
campus at 60 Towner Lane. The work being done by
Sinopoli Construction Company is underway.
Once the roughly 20 by 30 foot hole is dug, the con-
crete forms will be set up and the pour done. Bolts, pipes,
gravel for drains and finish work will make the basement
ready to receive the historic building after its trip from
Route 67, two miles away.
While this is being completed, historic restoration car-
penter Eric Iott of Seymour is spending time in early
September removing the schoolhouse's roof shingles.
His work includes tagging the sheathing, rafters, etc.
before removing the second floor loft. Additionally more
than 30 feet of wooden sill will be replaced.
The next stage of prepping the wood frame building
for actual transport includes tarping the roof and remov-
ing windows and doors to board-up the exterior walls.
Then flooring will be removed and temporary floor joists
and plywood put in to brace the base of the schoolhouse.
Eric Iott examines the schoolmaster’s desk, still
attached to the schoolhouse wall.
This stage was underwritten by a recent grant from
the Valley Community Foundation serving the lower
Naugatuck Valley from its offices in Derby.
The final step of loading the little wooden building
onto a truck and trundling it along Oxford Road and
then down Towner Lane will be accomplished by
Nicholas Brothers. Using cribbing, steel girders and
dollies with their prime mover, they will pick up the
building from its base on the Sears property and load
it onto a trailer.
After a short trip to its new location, the trailer will
be backed across the lawn in the back yard of the
Twitchell Rowland Homestead and slowly lowered onto
the new foundation and basement walls.
OHS is grateful to the Town of Oxford for funding
the actual move by the Nicholas Brothers with a Com-
munity Support grant.
After coordinating with the CT DOT, the final move
date will be set. For now it appears late September or
early October are the target dates! Watch the Society's
website and Facebook page as time gets closer for
Riggs Street School a Profile in History
Originally a one-room schoolhouse built on the east
side of Riggs Street just south of Jack’s Hill Road,
this school became so crowded with students that
the teacher had to leave by the front door and re-
turn by the back door to help students seated at
the back of the room. Eventually a second room
Oxford Historical Society President Louise Nyberg
Burr entered Riggs Street School when she was
nearly seven. Her mother had been a teacher and
taught Louise the alphabet and numbers so she
started school already knowing how to read and
write. That meant she was included with the sec-
ond graders, as she was the only first grader that
year. She was elated to have other children to play
with for the first time. They played baseball, hop
scotch and jumped rope in the middle of the little
traveled road and explored the woods and swampy
stream near the rear of the school. Birch trees were
bent down and kids climbed up them before they
snapped forward, for “a nice ride up and down.”
Before they left the schoolhouse at the end of the
day, each child had a chore. Once a week they
would elect their job: “erasing the blackboards,
putting chalk and erasers in place, sweeping the
floor, emptying wastepaper baskets, sweeping the
outhouse floors and replenishing the paper, bring-
ing wood in from the woodshed, getting a pail of
water to fill the crock at the front of the classroom.
The teacher oversaw that all was done; there were
no janitors, only us to do the jobs.”
The schoolhouse remained in operation until 1944.
That year there were only ten students and in June
four of them graduated leaving Louise’s sister
Eleanor as a first grader and only one other stu-
dent. So the town closed the school and bused
Eleanor to Christian Street School until 1947 when
the consolidated Center School opened. Until re-
cently the schoolhouse was a private home located
at 306 Riggs Street.
This article is taken from the
Historic Buildings of
Oxford Past and Present
published by the Oxford
Historical Society in 2017. Copies are for sale at
the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall and at the
Twitchell Rowland Homestead at 60 Towner Lane.
It also includes memories of Louise Burr from her
It Was Always Interesting
in the collec-
tion of the Historical Society.
Students walk to the one-rooom schoolhouse when
Riggs street was a dirt road.
After serving as a private residence for many years,
the Riggs Street School is now a Chiropractic Health
Center. This PATCH photo shows First Selectmen
George Temple and State Rep David Labriola with
Dr. Brandon Cyr, Sr. family at office opening.
1942. Mrs. E. E. Erwin, teacher
Railroad in Oxford a Hit!
The July 29 event was attended by over 80 people
who were fans of trains and railroads. Former resi-
dent Don Woodworth offered an hour long photo
presentation that focused on the trains, rails and
stations in the Oxford-Danbury-Waterbury area.
Don was fascinated as a youngster with the train
tracks and engines in the area that were still visible
by the 1960s. He discovered a magazine featuring
trains during a newspaper drive and uncovered a
trove of issues he treasured which fed his inter-
ests. Don was a regular trekking the rails that were
no longer in use and was thrilled the old track beds
were the basis for the Larkin Trail in northwest Ox-
Don’s work has been compiled in a 40 page book-
let full of photos and data.
Railroad in Oxford
is available at the Oxford Historical Society for $10
Peach Festival a SMASH….
If you missed out on the delicious experience this
year – be sure to mark your calendar for the fourth
Saturday in August, 2020. More than 160 people
visited Great Hill United Methodist Church to sample
the tasty peach shortcakes and view this year’s
feature articles and photos. In fact the event was
so popular that the shortcakes and Rich Farm
peach ice cream sold out for the first time ever.
The overwhelming response was heartening and
helped add to the funds to support the society’s
Munn Schoolhouse project.
in the Twitchell
stead when it was
his family’s home.
His twin brother Ed-
ward and older
brother Fred shared bedrooms and chores when
the house was located a short distance up Towner
Lane on Christian Street. A sister, Marion, was the
daughter of the family.
As an adult, Phil and his wife Loretta were staunch
supporters of the Oxford Historical Society and
actively participated in the project to relocate the
house to its new home and its use as a town mu-
seum. The photo history of the move and restora-
tion of the house shows Phil and other Rowland
family members painting, shoveling, mowing and
working to accomplish the myriad chores that made
the house a home – again. Phil and his wife Loretta
volunteered at the Society Recycling project until
his health prevented them from doing so. Phil Row-
land passed away at the end of August and will be
was a new
friend of the society, discov-
ering the enormous Jensen
barn loom in 2017. When Bar-
bara attended a Fiber Fest
session and tried out the an-
tique room-size loom, she was
hooked. She had been hop-
ing to acquire one and with her family’s help put it
in working order. This was only one of the ambi-
tious projects undertaken by this enthusiastic crafts
woman. Barbara was ready to share anything she
had learned and in 2019 had demonstrated with
flax she had grown in her yard the previous sum-
mer. The Society constructed a flax brake for her
to demonstrate a new craft to curious Fiber Fest
guests. There was always one more challenge to
meet. Sadly Barbara passed away at the end of
August. Her friendly help and wonderful sharing of
her love of traditional crafts will be missed.
Friends We Will Miss….
Friends Supporting Us...
Help Preserve Our Rural Heritage
•Follow us on Facebook @oxfordhistoricalsociety
•Like our Facebook page to let foundations know
the Society has your support
•Join the Historical Society. Download a mem-