A school building serving children in the Blawenburg Village community for 150 years!
The Blawenburg Village School (BVS) is located in Montgomery Township and is minutes away from Princeton, Hopewell, and Hillsborough. In the 1830s, Blawenburg Village parents were concerned about the distance their children had to walk to school, then situated on the corner of Burnt Hill Road and the ‘turnpike,’ Route 518, in Montgomery Township. When in 1849, a new schoolhouse was built in Rocky Hill even further away, the parents assembled to vent their displeasure. Finally, in 1853, village resident Susan Covenhoven Stout gave two-tenths of an acre of land adjacent to the church, and Blawenburg’s own two-story school was built.
The original Village Schoolhouse had a single large classroom for the 40-some children, ranging from first to eighth-graders. The two rooms on the second floor were used as lecture rooms, and an occasional minstrel show for the local community. The church Sunday School met upstairs, too.
A unique feature was its single entryway—the double doors used by both boys AND girls to enter school, rather than the more typical separate, segregated entrances. Blawenburg Reformed Church member Bill Terhune, a student from 1923 to 1926, remembers how the teacher would call each grade level in turn to come to the front and recite their lesson, then return to the back to study. Teacher turn-over could be a challenge. Bill remembers 13 different teachers one year!
The school was heated by a big stove, fueled by coal, on the side of the room. The coal bin door is still there—in the front entry vestibule. Above this vestibule is mounted the simple gable belfry, and the old schoolhouse bell still hangs inside. It served as the village school until 1925, when the new, larger District School House (directly west of the church building) was completed.
The church received a 99-year lease in 1926 for the Schoolhouse, and within the year enlarged the building with a one-story extension to the west. In 1950 they added the second, cinder block extension to the rear. Grace Terhune, another long-time BRC member, ran the school lunch program for Montgomery schools for a few years, and recalls her days of preparing and serving lunch in the Village Schoolhouse kitchen. Each day, rain or shine, forty or so hungry children from the district school walked over to the schoolhouse for lunch. Kindergarten was held in the Village Schoolhouse until Burnt Hill School was completed.
Seeing the School House standing so close to the community church underscores the central role of these two institutions in the life and heart of the 19th-century Blawenburg Village community.
For nearly 25 years, beginning in 1974, the Schoolhouse housed the Rock Brook School, a facility for special needs children ages three to nine, until they built their own facility on Orchard Road, opened in November of 1998.
The Blawenburg Village School (BVS), a ministry program of the Blawenburg Reformed Church, opened its doors in April 1999, with twenty four children enrolled in two classes. Today, BVS uses five classrooms—three in the Schoolhouse and two in the adjacent Cook Hall—with total enrollment of 75 children, ages 2 ½ to 6, in seven part-time programs.