by Ann Fletcher
HUNTERSVILLE – Eighty-eight-year-old Lena Ferrell, of Cornelius, paused on the front steps of Children’s Schoolhouse and recalled her first kiss. Her suitor was in the first grade and she was in the second. Although the moment didn’t last, her memory of it did and was one of many shared as alumni talked during a historical dedication on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Children’s Schoolhouse, formerly Caldwell Station School.
The event was the celebration for the school’s official designation on June 21 as a Mecklenburg County historical landmark. Schoolhouse parent Abigail Jennings, a Cornelius native with a passion for preserving area history, spearheaded the process.
“After starting this process almost two years ago, it is very gratifying to now celebrate the achievement of receiving the historic landmark designation for the schoolhouse from Mecklenburg County,” she said.
The school opened in 1925 with 48 students from surrounding farms in Caldwell Station, a small rural commercial and transportation center nestled between Cornelius and Huntersville.
Another school built in the 1800s was either abandoned or burnt down, prompting the community to build a new one.
Area families pitched in to build the school. It closed six years later in August 1931, after the community voted to send their children to a larger school in Huntersville that offered grades 1-11.
Alumni of Caldwell Station School hold fond memories of their years together. Knox, Grier, Osborne, Washam, Harrison, Cathey, Best, Riley, Mayes, Archer, Wilson, Riley, Osborne and Westmoreland are a few names that have surfaced in connection with the early history of the school, which was sold for $600 to the American Legion after it closed in April 1932.
Later, the building fell into private hands and was used as commercial space until it was renovated and reopened in 1991 as a preschool co-op called the Children’s Schoolhouse, operated by parents and a small staff.
Alumni of both Caldwell School and the Children’s Schoolhouse attended the dedication ceremony, along with present day teachers and families.
Ferrell was one of several former Caldwell Station students with memories to share. Growing up, she lived directly across the railroad tracks, which run parallel to Old Statesville Road in front of the school. Some mornings, the train stopped and blocked her path, so she would crawl beneath it to get to school.
Other Caldwell Station alumni in attendance included Herbert Knox, Wynee Gabriel Wally, Nell Caldwell, and 91-year-old Wilson Knox. Joyce Sendler traveled 420 miles from Florida. As a grandchild of Will Knox, she has many ties to the area.
“It’s wonderful to get together to talk about the old times,” said Sendler, who also planned to attend an Alexander family reunion that weekend.
Thursday’s event concluded with comments from Stewart Gray, who completed the property’s architectural description for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Commission’s Survey and Research Report that explained the building’s historical significance as “a well preserved example of early 20th century rural school architecture; the most substantial surviving building associated with ‘Caldwell Station;’ (whose) origins can be traced to the 1850s,” and “important for understanding the history of Mecklenburg County.”
Schoolhouse families have always felt the place was both historically and educationally significant. They now have a bronze historical marker mounted beside the front door that will preserve it for future generations.