SPRINGWATER — The Little Lakes Community Center is working out of the Old Hemlock School as a way to keep this part of local history alive.
The group came to the Springwater Webster Crossing Historical Society meeting on May 22 to talk about the history, and the future of this program.
Rick Osiecki has a passion for the Old Hemlock School, and is a proud member of The Little Lakes Community Center.
Osiecki shared the history of the famous school through a slideshow.
“There is a hundred years worth of kids going to this school,” he said. “It is a beautiful old building, and unique to our area. We have been working real hard to make the old school a community center.”
Some of the old schools built in the late 1800s were turned into doctors offices, or homes, or burned down over the years. In 1876 the old block school was built, and by the early 1900s it was turned into a doctors office. School House No. 12 merged with School House No. 4 in 1883. The union lasted until 1946 when the school broke ties. There were a lot of people coming and going from the old school until a couple decades ago.
Osiecki talked about the various family ties to many people in the community with the old photos from the slides.
A Union High School was created in 1912 named after the Civil War. It became Hemlock High School in 1915, but was burned down to the ground in 1928. The last photo ever taken at that school was a baseball team in 1927. The new brick school was built in 1928 to 1929. The last class for the Old Hemlock School was in 1958. In 1960 they used the building for overflow from Livonia and Honeoye schools. There was certain classes taught in the building to accommodate the overflow of students.
“This is the beginning of our adventure,” Osiecki said. “They had a museum in the basement of the school in 1930. There was a break in, and a lot of the stuff was stolen.”
Some luck came in the form of a man named Jack Evans. He was a 1935 graduate of Hemlock School, and he made it his mission to turn it into a community center and small business center one day. Evans made that dream possible in the 1990s. He purchased the building in 1983. He sold it to the town in 1996. Livonia operated it until 2016. Now it is in the hands of the Little Lakes Community Center.
Osiecki said the group wants to bring small business back to the center, and they are setting up a museum once more. There have been several events already at the old school.
“We have talked about having a community kitchen set up,” Mary Ann Thompson, LLCC president said. “We want to generate some ideas to keep it evolving. We have had some interest from the community. We can open up the rooms for workshops, classes, meetings, birthday parties, baby showers, and weddings.”
“This group is really trying to embrace Jack Evans’ vision for the community center,” Thompson continued. “We are restoring and preserving the old Hemlock School. As it gets more involved we hope to make it a tourism stop. This building is such a treasure to our area.”
LLCC member Bonnie Sykes said that the idea of the group is to show the region that this place means something to everyone.
“We are trying to save the little towns. We want everyone to be able to use this, and not just keep it to the Hemlock community,” she said. “You can make great friends, and branch out to other places. You really become a family here. There is a sense of community in the old school.”
Thompson added that the Evans Family has been very proud to support the group in all of their endeavors.
For more information on the Little Lakes Community Center and Old Hemlock School go to http://www.littlelakesny.org/ The old school is located at 4705 South Main Street in Hemlock. It can be reached at 585-367-1046. There are plenty of events and the museum is open to the public, but there are no set times.