PARSIPPANY, NJ - Since it is September, school is back obviously. But on September 21st and 22nd, Parsippany residents went to a slightly different location for local history lesson. This location was the Old Littleton Schoolhouse, located on Littleton Road, just next door to Barnes N’ Noble.
“I’ve never seen this much Parsippany history in one small place,” said Whippany visitor Dennis Vroegindewey. “They’ve done an excellent job in describing the artifacts and making connections to the houses and sites that are still here.”
This open house was part of the annual Pathway of History Tour, which is a self-guided tour organized by a coalition of local history organizations, and features a dozen historic sites in the Morris County area. This tour has been held for the past 10 years and often gets bigger with its number of historic locations every year.
“We like it in this building,” said Mary Purzycki, Parsippany resident and society trustee for the last 20 years. “It gives us room to arrange our displays and the history of the schoolhouse. And we have done a lot of hands-on writing with feather quills and homemade pencils.”
For this year’s Pathways tour, the schoolhouse was divided up into different historical subjects, relating to Parsippany’s history. This includes sections dedicated to the Lenni Lenape tribes that lived in the area, the Civil War, Parsippany’s farming history and even an area that included technology, from antique typewriters to pre-Microsoft computers. Furthermore, there was a section where visitors got to write using homemade quills and pencils, like those in the old days.
“I had no idea we had this kind of history in Parsippany,” said township resident Laurisa Telesh, who came to the schoolhouse with her husband John. “We knew we had an Indian name, but I didn’t know we had such a rich history involving the Lenni Lenape Indians. I’m fascinated with history and found this to be full of interesting exhibits. I even liked the newspaper they have that details President Lincoln’s death.”
The term “Parsippany” in fact derives from a Lenni Lenape word known as “parsipanong,” which in English means “the place where the river winds through the valley.”
The Littleton Schoolhouse itself has a colorful story. Built in 1796, the building remains the oldest one-room school in the township. It remain an educational center until 1810 when two individuals, Silas Condit and William Lee, converted it into the Union Bible School for Sunday classes. In 1872, it became known as the Hanover Township Public school until the early 1900s when it used as a chapel. Then in 1964, the schoolhouse was purchased and used for restaurant storage for the Llewellyn Farms Restaurant by the McGreevey Family. Finally in 200, the schoolhouse was purchased by the township and transformed into a public museum.
Today, the Old Littleton Schoolhouse opens on for history lovers and is often visited by elementary classes during field trips. Some students even get involved in projects for the museum. In fact, during the weekend open house, about 60 visitors got to see a Lenni Lenape long house model, constructed by the fourth grade of Mrs. Canavina, of All Saints Academy.
“We’re very excited with all these exhibits on display,” said Randy Tortorello, president of the Parsippany Historical & Preservation Society. as we collaborate with the school system so the kids can come and see it all. We do this so that the township history is here and there’s a record of it.”
For more information on the Parsippany Historical & Preservation Society, visit their website at http://parsippanyhistoricalsociety.org/, or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Parsippany-Historical-Preservation-Society-349637638518610/.