FLORHAM PARK, NJ- The Little Red Schoolhouse kicked off its year-long Sesquicentennial Celebration on Tuesday, February 28th at the Brooklake Country Club.
The night was a rousing success for the iconic Florham Park landmark and over 150 people were in attendance. The fundraising efforts from ticket sales alone helped the Florham Park Historical Society and the Friends of the Little Red Schoolhouse and Hancock Cemetery reach two percent of their overall fundraising goals. Every dollar raised over the course of this year will go directly to improvements that will seek to keep the schoolhouse standing for another 150 years.
The kickoff event was set as an elegant cocktail party and drew some big names from Florham Park and around the county. Mayor Mark Taylor and Morris County Freeholder Christine Myers both spoke on behalf of the Little Red Schoolhouse and its importance as a symbol for Florham Park and Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen made a very special donation in the form of an American Flag that has flown over our nation’s capital.
“It dawned on me that the Little Red Schoolhouse mission has not ended,” Freeholder Myers said to those gathered. “It ceases to function as a one room school house, but its learning opportunities and the teaching moments it gives to all of us as we take our children there or even as we pass it by are endless.”
Myers went on to praise the citizens of Florham Park and their dedication to this iconic treasure by saying “The fact that your community thought it so precious and such a gift that you would save it, move it, put it on the list of national historic preservation, and to apply for the grants for the historic preservation dollars from the county speaks volumes about what community and education means to Florham Park.”
On March 1st, 1867, Alice P. Arnold opened the doors of Columbia School District No. 5 for the first time. Grades one through eight were taught in this small one room red schoolhouse and unbeknownst to the children, the teacher, and the community, this small building would go on to become the legacy of generations of Florham Park residents.
Now, 150 years after its doors first opened, the school house continues to teach the citizens of the borough what it means to be part of the proud tradition that is Florham Park. In honor of this, Mayor Taylor took the stage to proclaim March 1st, 2017 as Little Red Schoolhouse Day in the Borough of Florham Park.
“The borough of Florham Park and the Historic Preservation Commission have worked diligently to preserve the Little Red Schoolhouse as a national, state and local landmark through preservation and restoration efforts and we are proud to celebrate its 150th anniversary,” Mayor Taylor said during his proclamation.
The next year will see a host of events that will celebrate the Little Red Schoolhouse and help to fund the ongoing preservation and restoration efforts it requires. One of the biggest ways that the Florham Park community can support this effort is through the purchase of the Little Red Schoolhouse themed merchandise. These novelties will include bookmarks, dog collars, puzzles, chocolate coins, pens and two different candles, one period appropriate and unscented, staying true to how candles would have been made in the 1860s, the red and apple scented in honor of Florham Park’s rich agricultural history. There is even a Florham Park themed children’s coloring book entitled “F is for Florham Park” that will take children through the alphabet with items and places from Florham Park’s history.
So far the biggest hits have been the candles and the puzzles. The table selling the novelties was well visited by all attending the kickoff event and the trinkets were admired by many. They will be on sale at every event going forward for the Little Red Schoolhouse Sesquicentennial and can additionally be purchased by contacting Suzanne Herold at email@example.com.
The next event will be on March 19th at the Florham Park Public Library and looks to rival the excellent turnout of the sesquicentennial kickoff. For more information about the year-long schedule of events, goals and merchandise feel free to email LRSH2017@gmail.com.