New Castle Landmarks Washburn-Barnes House, Old Kipp School

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Gray Williams is the New Castle town historian and chair of the New Castle Landmarks Advisory Committee. Photo Credit: New Castle Media Center

NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – A pre-Revolutionary War home and a late-19th century public school house have been named landmarks by the New Castle Town Board.

The Washburn-Barnes House on 113 Campfire Road was built in the late 18th century by John Washburn, turning his late father’s property into an estate, said Gray Williams, town historian and chair of the New Castle Landmarks Advisory Committee. The home remained in the Washburn family for several generations, until it was sold in the early 20th century.

The family that now owns the home, which Williams said retains clear signs of 18th century construction in its basement, has agreed to have it land marked.

“This is a very important historic house for us,” Williams said at the town board meeting Tuesday night.

While the Washburn-Barnes House was sold off in pieces, some of which were further broken up, the former Kipp School remains mostly as it was when it was built around 1900. Now the New Castle Arts Center on 939 Hardscrabble Road, it was a “common school,” which was part of New York’s first public education system.

Williams said New York was a pioneer in public education with its common schools, which were free and open to both sexes starting in 1812. A law passed that year created school districts governed by taxing bodies – school boards – which is the system that remains to this day, with some tweaks, of course.

These schools provided a basic education, up to what would today be considered eighth grade. High school wasn’t offered until the early 20th century and wasn’t public at first, Williams said.

In 1926, the Kipp School was absorbed into the Chappaqua Central School District as a kindergarten, which Williams said he attended as a young child. It remained in use until 1964, he said.

“The building itself is the same one I went to and it’s a really important monument to one of the most important aspects of our community, our educational system,” he said. 

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