Penns Valley

On Centre | Penns Valley: Gramley Schoolhouse Museum tells valley’s story

On Saturday, the Gramley Schoolhouse Museum in Rebersburg will open to the public for the first time this year.
On Saturday, the Gramley Schoolhouse Museum in Rebersburg will open to the public for the first time this year. Contributed photo

The red paint on a one-room schoolhouse on Town Lane in Rebersburg was once chipped and cracked, but it’s now bright and new.

The landscape around it is welcoming to its visitors, and the inside — although small — is a place that tells the story of Brush Valley.

On Saturday, the Gramley Schoolhouse Museum will open to the public for the first time this year. It will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. every Saturday through October.

According to Vonnie Henninger, a Miles Township resident who helps oversee the museum, the schoolhouse was built in 1838. To maintain that the schoolhouse could still be in use, it was moved in 2011 from within 12 feet of the current Miles Township Elementary School to 200 feet from the facility.

“It was a long process, but it had to be moved because of fire hazards because it’s made of wood,” Henninger said. “A group of 40 or 50 community members expressed the desire to save the schoolhouse, and we worked with the ( Penns Valley Area) school district and the township supervisor to save it.”

By the summer of 2012, it was completely restored.

Henninger said Day of Caring volunteers helped paint the house, along with students in the district who helped with the landscaping.

“We live in a wonderful place where citizens want to preserve our history,” she said.

The schoolhouse contains artifacts that locals donate to the museum for display, Henninger said.

Some items include school pictures, old service uniforms worn by locals, encyclopedias that focus on the area, information about the history of the Amish who settled in Penns Valley, a working player piano donated by the Stover family that has been in the area since 1906, and journals from prominent people who used to live in the valley.

Diaries are from poet Henry Meyer (1840-1925), fire warden Harry Ziegler (1911-1986) and land surveyor Sam Gramley (1827-1892), Henninger said.

“To have those diaries available for people to view is something really special,” Henninger said.

Henninger said the school was built in 1838 as a one-room schoolhouse 2 miles east of Rebersburg. It closed in 1924, was moved into Rebersburg, and reopened in 1927 to provide more space for students. It was used by the district until a few years ago.

Henninger said it’s now in the hands of a 10-member committee that oversees the museum, along with about 10 additional volunteers.

“We work with the bare necessities,” Henninger said. “We have no heat, which is why it’s closed in the winter, but we do have to keep up with electric and other maintenance.”

There is no admission fee into the museum, but volunteers ask for donations to help run the facility.