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Little Red School House receives energy update

Laurie Fox, president with the Poland Historical Society, stands with a new furnace installed in the fall at the Little Red Schoolhouse.

POLAND — At first glance, the Little Red Schoolhouse in Poland doesn’t look its age.

Built in 1858, it still has a purpose of educating people, but now through the Poland Historical Society.

To ensure precious bits of history are preserved, the organization has been updating the school house, adding a new furnace and water heater in the past year.

Paid for by private donations and the society’s general fund, the new heater cost about $5,000 and was installed this past fall, said Laurie Fox, president of the Poland Historical Society.

The furnace was essential, because as Fox explained, it also runs the air conditioner.

One feature that the new furnace has is that an alarm will sound if the furnace shuts off incorrectly, as well as if the thermostat detects too low a temperature.

The school house stores delicate artifacts, ranging from clothing to original pictures, which is why it was important to replace the furnace, said Poland Historical Society Trustee Dave Smith.

“You need to keep a constant temperature in a certain range, along with humidity,” Smith said. The furnace is a key element in preserving those bits of history, he added.

While the addition of the furnace helps to ensure that historical documents and other items are safely preserved, a new water heater has also helped, but in a financial way.

Kicking off 2020, a new water heater was installed, which will help save money, Fox said.

It’s an on-demand water heater, meaning it will only warm up water if it is needed. “It’s not running constantly,” Fox said.

To help keep track of the society’s inventory, Smith said over the last several months members have been going through each item, cataloging and reviewing everything.

“When we find something at the school house, we mark it as FIC, or Found in Collection, and other items are listed as ‘donated by,'” he said.

The information is then entered into a database.

Prior to the virus, members were meeting weekly but it’s “yet another project” that has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith said.

Last year, Smith said a tour of 19th-century homes was planned, but was put on hold. The historical society is waiting to see how this year turns out to see if they can hold it.

Smith said that while the Poland Historical Society is dedicated to helping preserve history and bring educational opportunities to the public, it also can help with researching background on a house in Poland or family lineage.

Past events stay how they occurred, but it’s the quest people are on to learn what happened, Smith said.

“History doesn’t change. It’s what we learn about history that changes.”

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