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Armonk Students Treated to Smith Tavern Trip Fri.

ARMONK, N.Y. – Fourth graders from Byram Hills School District, on Wednesday and Friday, were welcomed at Smith Tavern by the North Castle Historical Society, where they learned about the town’s distant past, including a lesson by Armonk resident Diane Brown about the old one room Middle-Patent schoolhouse.

“When I see their reactions when they come in, they’re amazed that something like this could have existed,” Brown said. “It’s important because I think they lose touch with too many things that people worked for.”

Brown started the field trips when she worked in the Valhalla School District. Byram Hills’ students make the trip each fall and Valhalla in June.

The schoolhouse, which was moved to the Smith Tavern site and dedicated around 1985, was built in the late 1800’s and remained as a school until the early 60s. Geraldine Lanfair was the school’s lone teacher from about 1915 to 1961.

In an original section of Smith Tavern, current North Castle Councilman Becky Kittredge Friday taught children how to churn butter the old-fashion way, and they even got to taste the final product.

“I like to see the reaction of the kids and I’ll see them on Main Street or something and they’ll say ‘there’s the butter lady,’ so it’s fun,” Kittredge said. “It’s important for them to compare their lives to the people who were here back then. It was a lot of work.”

Students were also treated to a display of how blacksmiths created different tools and goods with metal in the Brundage Blacksmith shop, which was also originally in a different location in North Castle but relocated to the Smith Tavern Site.

“It might give them some appreciation of how hard people worked in those days compared to today,” blacksmith expert Dan Werner said. “Something like a hook may take a half hour to make in a blacksmith shop where today they can probably make 1,000 of them on an assembly line in China in about the same amount of time.”

Werner and his daughter, Wendy Zepf, who has a son in fourth grade who was at the site, showed students how blacksmiths heated metal in order to shape it for different uses.

Werner normally does a blacksmith exhibit at Shelburne Museum in Vermont where he lives. Zepf was lending her father a helping hand for the day and she was glad the children were excited by the display.

“They don’t do much,” Zepf said. “They go to school, they play their video games and they come here and think making a metal hook is the coolest thing in the world. The satisfaction of making something, I hope, might inspire them a little bit.”

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