For Hebron residents, one of the most significant events marking the start of the 16th Annual Maple Fest took place at the Jones-Keefe-Baston Post 95 American Legion. Local and state officials gathered at 10:15 on Saturday to celebrate the designation of the building as an official Hebron historic property.
The American Legion now owns what was once Hebron’s largest schoolhouse, known as the Center School. The original one room Center Schoolhouse burned down in the Great Fire of 1882, and was rebuilt as a two room schoolhouse in 1883. Based on research and a subsequent recommendation from the Hebron Historic Properties Commission, an amendment to Town Ordinance 94-1 to include the Center School as an historic property was approved by the Board of Selectmen on January 5, 2006, and became effective February 3, 2006.
The Center School joins other officially designated historic properties in Hebron, which are Old Town Hall, Burrows Hill Schoolhouse, Old Town Records Building, Gull Schoolhouse and Gilead Hill Schoolhouse.
Interim Town Manager Jared Clark welcomed attendees to the event and to the Maple Fest. “The Maple Fest is an event that we look forward to every year in Hebron, but we will also remember designating the Center School as an historic property for years to come.”
State Representative Pamela Z. Sawyer stated, “This Maple Fest is unique. A very special building, important to Hebron history, has been officially added to Hebron’s list of historic properties. I am honored to participate in this momentous occasion. Preserving historic buildings is key to preserving Connecticut’s history.” Acting Chairman of the Hebron Board of Selectmen, Mark Stewart, agreed with Sawyer, noting that “one of the pleasures of being a member of the Board of Selectmen is seeing our community honor its past, and being part of that process. The Selectmen are especially excited about seeing the Center School being officially declared an historic property.”
Deena Watson, Chairman of the Historic Properties, also addressed the group. “The Hebron Historic Properties Commission works hard to identify properties that qualify for local historic designation. In the past, properties owned by either the Hebron Historical Society or the Town of Hebron have been designated as “historical.” But now local property owners, such as the American Legion and the Hills family, are showing their commitment to our past. I am proud to present to the Jones-Keefe-Baston American Legion Post 95 the official plaque designating this important building as a Hebron historic property.”
Ronald Parkyn, Commander of the Hebron VFW, noted that Hebron men and women have answered America’s call to military service for centuries, and said, “We have a new generation of veterans coming in, and these men and women that have served – or who are serving – in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue the traditions of Hebron’s VFW in the years to come.” Added Daniel Arnini, Commander of the American Legion, “We are proud of our men and women in uniform who have served our country so well. We are equally proud to be headquartered in a building that was such an integral part of Hebron’s history.”
With Vietnam veteran Ron Winter ringing the school’s bell to signify the moment, the historic designation plaque was placed on the front door by Parkyn and Arnini, to the applause of all present.