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 Volumne IV Issue 1 Spring - 2001 
The Pleasant Street School
Can it be saved?
School Pictureschool Picture

Note the similar turrets and rounded windows on both of these buildings. Both used sandstone. The school is made of bricks and the court house builders used Arkansas granite. The court house is Romanesque Revival and was designed by architect MA Orlopp. Both buildings were built in the early 1890's

The Pleasant St. School has graced our hometown for as long as most of us can remember. Last Spring, one of our alumni asked if this lovely old building could be saved. Although in a state of severe disrepair, with some windows boarded, and said to be the place where birds have made their home, it is still easy to see what a lovely building it was. One can imagine what it could be again, if we could somehow wave a magic wand and bring it back to its original glory of brick and sandstone.

The formal history of education in Sidney began in 1833 when one of the members of the Rogers family started school in what is considered to be Sidney's first schoolhouse. This building was constructed in 1824 and was located about where the old DeCumber Hotel building now stands. By 1840 the old school building had become so dilapidated that it was abandoned and for several years a basement room under the Methodist Chapel was used as a school.

In 1842, Charles S. Rogers built the "Little Red School House" on the grounds just east from the Congregational Church. The schoolhouse served from 1842 until 1872 when the Grammar School was built at the comer of Liberty and what was Academy Street (Later Pleasant St.) This school was a wooden structure two stories high. In June 1889 the name of the school was changed to Sidney High School and in the same month the first graduation exercises were held for two graduates. In September 1891, voters approved the construction of a new high school building to cost $18,000. This later came to be known as the Pleasant St. School.

According to John MacLachlan (in the collection of newspaper articles called Mr. Mac's Writings), people were immensely proud of this new high school. They were told that 340,000 bricks were used in the construction, and that it required the work of three men for three weeks to slate the roof. Sidney's first Mayor, Ira Sherman (for whom Sherman Ave is named) was invited to compose and deliver the poem at the opening of the new high school in June. The school opened under Frank W. Goreth with a staff of eight. During 1894 school attendance increased so rapidly that a portable two room building was erected near the school and another one was placed behind the school. From 1920 to 1929 a frame house in the area also housed two primary classes and an empty mill on lower River Street, where the Elks Club is now located, was used for some pupils.

On Oct. 30, 1930 the Pleasant St School was replaced with a new high school (the present Civic Center) and for 10 years the Pleasant Street School stood vacant. During the World War II years the old school was renovated to meet the needs of defense industry training classes. When the war ended the old high school had received a new lease on life and functioned as Pleasant St. Elementary School along with the new school built on Pearl St.

In 1968 the school was closed to students and has been standing empty since then. In 1974 it was sold to an Oneonta man for $12,600. Joseph Monzer bought the structure and had plans of renovating it into an apartment building. He died before he could make this a reality. Again it stood empty until 1977 when Mr. Monzer's family offered to sell the property.

Over the years the school has changed owners each of whom, though they have tried, have been unable to make it a functioning part of the community. Today it is again for sale. According to a local builder there is much work needed on the school, but it is possible to restore it. It will take money of course, but also and equally important, a love of the history of Sidney.

An interesting fact that I uncovered when doing the research for this article is that our Pleasant St School building shares a similarity with the "Old Red Court House" in Dallas TX. Karen Stoddard '68' first told me that these buildings are very similar in design. Scott Potter of Dallas TX ( son of Sherry Dennody Potter '61') was kind enough to send the picture you see on this page and Doc Brooks '35' kindly supplied the name of the architect of "Old Red" - MA Orlopp.

Mr Orlopp designed several buildings around the country in this same style. Whether or not there is a connection between the two buildings is still being investigated but the similarities are obvious.

If anyone has any informafion regarding this, or if you would like further details about the status of the school please let me know at the association address or email me at