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Yaphank Once Had 8 Sided Schoolhouse

Footnotes to Long Island History

Yaphank Once Had 8-Sided Schoolhouse

by

Thomas R. Bayles


 Yaphank Once Had 8 Sided Schoolhouse

            Yaphank had the most unusual schoolhouse on Long Island, nearly 100 years ago, which was a building octagonal in shape, with a cupola in the center for light and ventilation.  This was built in 1854 on a two-acre site purchased from John and Betsey Owen for $100, and was located just to the rear of the present Main Street school.

            William J. Weeks was the prime mover in the erection of this school, and a certain eccentricity of his was shown in the octagonal shape of the building and his own residence down the road near the Episcopal Church.  It was of similar design.  This old schoolhouse served the village until 1926, when the present one was built on the same site in front of the old one, which was sold to Yaphank Fire Department and moved a short distance down the street.

            Beecher Homan had this to say about the first Yaphank school, in his book “Yaphank As It Is,” published in 1875: “For many years the young ideas of the past generations struggled to master the rustic classics in a little red painted, boxed up shanty, bearing the name of a schoolhouse, that stood alone in an old field in the most extreme part of Upper Yaphank.  There Squire Homan once “ruled up” the pupils, and William C. Booth and Brewster Saxton explained the mysteries of the half explored globe.”

            Considerable activity is noted in the years around the middle of the last century in the life of Yaphank, as the railroad came through Yaphank in 1844, and in addition to the Baptist Church and a new schoolhouse, a post office was opened in 1846, the Presbyterian Church was built in 1851, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in 1853.  The business of Yaphank in 1875 showed two grist mills, two lumber mills, a dry goods and hardware store, two blacksmith shops, a printing office, an upholstering shop, an express and stage line, a shoe shop, lumber yard, two wheelright shops, two doctors and a meat market.

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