Friday, 11 May 2012

So Where Was It And Where Did It Go...?

When it was first built, the house stood near where the present day corner of Central Street and King Street North is in Waterloo—adjacent to where MacGregor Senior Public School is located. Central Street was originally known as Church Street. There is some discrepancy as to the exact location but all agree it was in this general area. 
The schoolhouse, as was similar to other buildings of its time, was constructed of local logs and was 8 logs high. The school is approximately 16’ by 20’ and may have had a cast iron stove for heating (this was a characteristic often associated with the Pennsylvania Germans who had been heating their homes and cooking with stoves for several hundred years prior to settling here in the Waterloo Region). 

Stoves such as the ten plate stove above (originally pictured for sale at an online auction for Live Auctioneers in 2010) were introduced in the 1760's to replace the smaller six plate stoves and would have been able to accomodate enough heating capacity for the interior of a log house such as the schoolhouse. These plate stoves fit together something like Lego and could be disassembled and carried wherever needed and then reassembled. In this way they were both sturdy and portable.

These types of stoves were in use at least up until the 1840's. Photographs of the schoolhouse in later years do indicate a central chimney that would have complemented the use of a stove and pipe. (Another picture of a different but very similar ten plate stove. Take note of the front and side door accesses and the placement of the stove pipe hole fitting on top).

To date,  I have not yet discovered a source to state how the school was moved—quoting the Ellis Little Research Papers located in the Ellis Little Local History Room at the Waterloo Public Library, Little surmised that the school was probably dismantled log by log and then reassembled in its new location according to typical Pennsylvania German construction bees that probably constructed the schoolhouse in the first place--this to me is most plausible. It would also seem possible/probably, then, that if indeed a stove had been used for heating, this would have been a relatively simple thing to move along with the structure (as stated above) for if the early building had had an open hearth for heating, it is most likely that the massive stonework hearth would have been left behind (and would have shown up when the city was building other buildings over time which it never was further indicating that it was never there in the first place).

We do know that in 1842 the school was relocated to an area known then as "Greenbush" (in modern terms, the school went from Waterloo to Kitchener). Greenbush was a small settlement area located in and around the area surrounding the present day Grand River Hospital and the Kitchener Collegiate Institute (KCI).  (In the early days of settlement, it was common for smaller settlement areas to be named and later assimilated into the growing community as land ownership changed over time. More on the land ownership over time of "Greenbush", later--until then, think Abraham Weber, John Hoffman and Joseph Emm Seagram or, what does a Conestoga Wagon, a Mayor and a bottle of booze have in common) ?

In 1842,then, the actual site for the log house was near where the present day KCI is located in Kitchener (Berlin).  (I am working on a more definitive location for where it actually stood. I will update when I have more information). 

Here is where the schoolhouse story gets even more interesting and takes a bit of a twist.....

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