one room, a million memories
Aug 23 – HUNLOCK CREEK – Oakdale School may have been a one-room school, but it still holds millions of memories.
Built circa 1890, the Oakdale Schoolhouse sits on top of a hill off Pritchard Street and was recently the subject of a preservation project. The Hunlock Creek Historical Society held an open house on Saturday August 14 to showcase the finished product.
On the open house, the guests of honor were Pat Hess and Marjorie Bonham, two former teachers who taught in one-room schools in the 1940s and 1950s.
In fact, Hess taught at the Oakdale school and she was reunited at the open house with some of her alumni.
Built around 1890, the school closed around 1954, when schools were consolidated into the North West Region School District. The Miller family owned the building until 2018, when they donated it to the Hunlock Creek Historical Society. The Historical Society has worked on its restoration and it is almost complete.
Oakdale School is one of the last one-class schools still standing in Luzerne County. It is one of six one-room schools that were part of the Hunlock Township education system at the time long before school buses, cafeterias and indoor plumbing.
In a June 2019 article in The Times Leader, Don Sorber, president of the Hunlock Creek Historical Society, which was established to preserve the history of Hunlock Township, said, “This is what remains of the story here “.
The other five one-room schools in Hunlock Township have either disappeared or been converted into homes – Van Horn School, Crooptown School, Santee School, Sorbertown School and Rock School.
Sorber attended Crooptown and he said he and others had several one-classroom school offices that will be placed in Oakdale upon completion of the project. When the preservation project began in 2019, the soil needed to be replaced.
Parts of the original board remain inside, as does the cursive alphabet that was on the front wall of the school behind the teacher’s desk. The paneling still runs the length of the interior walls, but Sorber couldn’t tell if it was original. Outside, the foundations remain where the boys ‘and girls’ toilets once stood.
The Historical Society hopes to bring students to Oakdale to show them what it was like back then, as well as guided tours for the public.
Oakdale had no air conditioning, no electricity, or indoor bathrooms. And for drinking water there was a bucket and a ladle.
According to information provided by Matthew Pugh of the Hunlock Creek Historical Society, Abram Garthwaite, a local farmer, donated part of his land to the Hunlock Township School Board in 1886. Garthwaite was the great-back- Pugh’s great-grandfather.
The Oakdale School was built some time after the property was transferred.
How to get to Oakdale
The address is 440 Pritchard’s Road, Hunlock Township.
Take Route 11 South and turn right on Main Road, Hunlock Creek. Continue for 4 miles and turn right on Old Tavern Road.
Stay on this road until the first stop sign. It’s Pritchard’s Corners. Turn right and follow the road until you see a road on the right called Oakdale Drive. Turn right and park at the church. You can go back to Oakdale School on the Hill.
Oakdale Cemetery is there too, so you can’t miss it.
How can you help
If you would like to donate to the Oakdale School Restoration Project in Hunlock Township, send to:
Hunlock Creek Historical Society
P.O. Box 51
Hunlock Creek, PA 18621
The company is a 501 (c) (3) registered nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible.