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From a clubhouse to a one-room schoolhouse

Woodland-area volunteers work to save history in small community
January 17, 2018

Story Location:
Woodland Road
Seaford  Delaware
United States

A century ago, rural Sussex County was dotted with one-room schoolhouses, but few have survived the onslaught of time.

However, residents, relatives and friends who have connections to the village of Woodland are making sure the historic community's school is not lost. Over the summer, volunteers started restoration of a schoolhouse that served as a clubhouse for the former Woodland Golf Park, which was sold to Sussex County in 2010.

Phase I is exterior work and Phase 2 will be restoration of the interior of the 15-by-20-foot structure.

The schoolhouse – used from around 1911 into the 1930s – was moved from its original location closer to Woodland and placed on the foundation of another house. Additions were built so that it was nearly impossible to see the original schoolhouse. It was converted into a clubhouse and pro shop in the 1990s.

The schoolhouse is located in the county's only park, just outside Woodland near the Nanticoke River about five miles west of Seaford.

Twenty acres of the 40-acre parcel were used to place spoils from the Nanticoke River dredging project in 2012. Another 20 acres was designated to be used as parkland.

Donna Tate Steinbliss, a 30-year educator and association vice president, said the goal is to restore the building to its old glory as a functioning schoolhouse. Plans are to offer educational programs and field trips especially for fourth-graders taking part in Delaware studies. “This will not be a museum but a classroom to go back in time,” she said. “It will be a meeting place for the community and the focal point of the park.”

She said, so far, volunteers have put in more than 2,000 hours of work on the project.

Sussex County historic preservation planner Dan Parsons, who has coordinated the effort on behalf of the county, said volunteers have peeled away 30 tons of material to reveal the original schoolhouse.

Two other examples of one-room schoolhouses can be found in the area. Public School #178 – the Midway School – was moved to the grounds of the Lewes Historical Society, and the Millsboro Historical Society recently finished restoration of Public School #190 or Godwin's School off Route 30, west of Millsboro.

PARK, SCHOOLHOUSE TIMELINE

2010: May – Sussex County receives $103,000 grant to purchase former 40-acre Woodland Golf Park for dredging spoils and parkland

2012: January – Nanticoke River dredging project begins

2013: February – Sussex County County approves Woodland Park master plan; 20 acres for spoils and 20 acres of passive parkland with two miles of trails

2014: July – Sussex County Council approves design concept for park; $143,000 construction project set to begin in 45 days

September – Sussex County receives $86,000 matching grant for park construction from Delaware Land and Water Conservation Fund

2015: June – Public meeting takes place at Woodland United Methodist Church to discuss possible schoolhouse project

2017: June – Work commences on schoolhouse renovation; Woodland Schoolhouse Association forms

September – Sussex County approves 10-year lease agreement with association

September – Association has inaugural Nanticoke Heritage Festival