The Darwin Exception

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The Buildings of Malone: The School for the Deaf

Posted by thedarwinexception on April 2, 2007

Another remnant of the past in the form of abandoned and dilapidated buildings that litter the Malone area is the complex now referred to as “Harrison Green” – the site of one of the shining accomplishments in Malone’s past – the Institute for the Deaf. Comprised of several large buildings that used to house deaf students from all over the East Coast, the buildings are now up for auction by the city and there are hopes of turning the complex into an art institute.

The buildings have a wonderful and storied history – realized by H. C. Rider in the latter days of the 19th century.

Born in Esperance, Schoharie County, NY, in 1832, Henry Closson Rider epitomizes the zealot with a burning desire to correct a wrong. His zeal concerned the education of deaf mutes and the improvement of the quality of their lives.

He was the son of Lewis and Seville Rider. His father was a successful business man and at one time Assemblyman from the 3rd district of Oneida County. His mother died in his infancy and four years later he lost his hearing as a result of scarlet fever.

From 1846 to 1855, Rider studied at the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in New York City where he was able to take advantage of what was then the most advanced course of study open to deaf mutes. His high intelligence placed him at the head of his class and upon graduation, brought him many honors, one of which was 15 volumes of Washington Irving’s works bound in sheepskin.

After leaving school he worked in his father’s tannery business in Florence, Oneida County, New York, later becoming a partner in the business known as Lewis Rider & Son.

In 157 Mr. Rider married Helen A. Chandler, also deaf and a graduate of the New York Institution. Seven children were born to them, one of whom, Edward Cornish Rider, was destined to become as zealous in the field of education for the deaf as his father. The home of the young couple at Mexico, New York soon became known throughout the country as a place where doors were always open to the deaf.

Mr. Rider’s deep involvement in the welfare of the deaf made him a leader in the field. He was the first secretary of the “Empire State Association of Deaf Mutes” which was for a long time the most powerful organization of its kind in the country. He became its president and held that position for sixteen years. At the organization of the National Convention of Deaf Mutes at Cincinnati in 1880 he was chosen vice president.

In 1872 Mr. Rider founded the “Deaf Mute Journal” which became the leading paper for the deaf in the United States. In 1879, the Journal was sold to the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

While publishing this paper, Mr. Rider became aware of the fact that the education of deaf mutes in New York State was being neglected and in 1879 he made an unsuccessful attempt to establish an institution for the education of the deaf at Albany, New York.

It was his affiliation with the Mutual Life Insurance Company for Deaf Mutes which brought him to Northern New York State where he learned that there were at least 40 deaf mutes of school age residing in the Counties of Franklin, Clinton, St. Lawrence and Warren who were not receiving a formal education. He determined that he would establish a school in Malone and with this goal in mind, gave up his business enterprises and devoted his time and energies to its creation

It was not an easy task and Mr. rider faced many difficulties and frustration. However, none seemed to exist in Malone, where a public meeting concerning the organization of a school for the deaf was held at the Methodist Church. In presenting the need for and the resulting benefits from such a school, he was helped by Dr. Thomas Gallaudet, a well known educator from New York City, who was married to the niece of one of Malone’s prominent citizens, Dr. Calvin Skinner. Dr. Gallaudet had given valuable aid in organizing other such institutions, and lent his support to Mr. Rider. The meeting was well attended and the project met with the complete support of influential men and women of the area – seventeen of whom became known as life members of the school because they contributed financially to its founding: Malachi H. Barry, Elizabeth Clarkson, Fredericka Clarkson, Samuel Greeno, George W. Hale, Frank T. Heath, Howard D. King, Hon. Darius W. Lawrence, Nelson J. Lyon, Morton S. Parmalee, Nelson W. Porter, Calvin Skinner, Bryon J. Soper, Hon. William C. Stevens, Hon, Horace A. Taylor, Mary K. Wead and William A. Wheeler.

Before the school could be founded, the consent of the State Board of Charities was required by law. Mr. Rider, his son Edward (who had agreed to take time off from his medical studies in order to help his father fulfill his ambition) and Dr. Gallaudet journeyed to Albany to obtain this consent. Before long they realized that the majority of the board members were totally against giving the necessary consent because they felt that there were already enough schools for the deaf in New York State. Dr. Galaudet became convinced that nothing more could be accomplished and left for New York. However, the father and son were determined to carry on and the day before they were to meet with the board, Mr. Rider sent his son to Rhinebeck to ask the famous railroad baron and politician John O’Brien for political assistance. Mr. O’Brien hurried to Albany and the next morning when the question came up for consideration, unexpectedly there appeared the state treasurer, the attorney general, the secretary of state and others (all ex-officio members of the State Board of Charities) and “the determined opposition to the necessary consent disappeared like mist on a summers day.” Thus, in 1884, the Northern New York Institution for Deaf Mutes at Malone came into being.

The state would pay $250.00 annually for each pupil designated by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and the counties would pay $300.00 a year for each pupil within their limits who was sent to the school. These amounts would cover all expenses – board, tuition, transportation and, when necessary, clothing. Private students were accepted at $600.00 annually. This amount covered all expenses except clothing.

The schools first location was in a large wooden structure on the North side of East Main Street known as the Rounds building. Its staff of three was headed by H. C. Rider, Superintendent, E. C. Rider, teacher, and Helen Rider, matron. It’s pupils numbered twelve and the first public exhibition by the pupils was given at the Howard Opera House in early June of 1885.

As enrollment increased, other buildings were rented. However, there were disadvantages in carrying on scattered activities and in the spring of 1887 plans were made by the Board of Trustees for the purchase of a site and the erection of a school building. A bill was introduced in the State Legislature which resulted in the appropriation of $60,000.00 and in 1890 the school moved to its new building with an enrollment of 80 and a teaching staff of five.

Feeling that the school was now well established, Edward Rider decided to return to college. But members of the board urged him to remain because “something had to be done to restore discipline among the older male pupils.” He agreed and what was to be a few years of help to his father extended to 48 years of dedicated service to the school, including his own term of Superintendent beginning in 1896 upon the retirement of his father.

The school made great strides in growth and over the years as its enrollment grew, new buildings were erected – Kindergarten, Annex, Rider Hall, Gilbert Hall, Badger Hall, a laundry, greenhouse and lodge and finally in 1938, Ransom Hall. Included in the complex was a 40 acre farm which had its own dairy and poultry house, and grew most of the fruit and vegetables used by the school.

In 1929 one hundred twenty nine pupils were enrolled – these children came from 23 different counties and all, except 2 private pupils and 4 county pupils, were maintained by the state. Edward Rider continued to maintain high standards and progressive methods for teaching of his students until his death in 1932. At that time his son Darrel W. Rider became the third generation of Rider men to dedicate themselves to the Institute and the education of deaf mutes.

During the meeting of the Board of Trustees at which Darrel Rider was elected superintendent, another event occurred. The name of the school – Northern New York Institute for Deaf Mutes – was changed to Northern New York School for the Deaf. Thus, from the time of H. C. Rider to D. W. Rider, the words institution, dumb and then mute were found to be no longer relevant when speaking of the school at Malone. This change was due in no small part to the Rider’s themselves and their extensive work in educating both the deaf and the public at large.

The school began to show signs of decline in 1936. This is the first year that enrollment rates began to decline – a trend that continued until 1941, when “drastic steps” were taken at the time of the school’s opening in September. Salaries had been decreased, the staff had been reduced and four buildings had been closed. Mr. Rider felt that this cut in expenses would allow the school to avoid a deficit.

Enrollment continued to drop and during the year of 1943, seventy three students attended the school.

The Malone Evening Telegram of June 3, 1943 contains an account of the graduation exercises held in the auditorium of the school. Two boys and a girl were graduated. This was to be the last graduation exercise at the school. The Northern New York School for the Deaf did not open in September of 1943.

Darrel Rider was appointed custodian of the complex and remained in that position until it became part of the campus of Clarkson College in 1946. Mr. Rider died in March, 1947. Sometimes after Clarkson left the building in 1951, the buildings were taken over by the Department of Mental Hygiene and an extensive renovation program was begun, The intention was to use the facilities as a geriatric center in connection with the St. Lawrence State Hospital. However, this plan did not materialize.

In 1957 the buildings plus 41.34 acres of land were deeded to the Board of education of the Village School District of the town of Malone for $5,000.00. The deed is dated July 30, 1957 and is signed by Paul Hoch, Commissioner of Mental Hygiene.

The buildings were used for a while as Harrison Elementary School, then as the School’s Administrative Offices, but now sit empty. A part of the Franklin Academy Campus and North Franklin Educational Center are located on what was once the farmland of the School for the Deaf.

Contemporary photographs of the school by Johndan Johnson-Eilola. Thanks to Johndon for allowing me to include them. Please go HERE for some more of his wonderful pictures of the school as it appears now.


25 Responses to “The Buildings of Malone: The School for the Deaf”

  1. What is the source of this?
    Did you write this yourself?
    If so, you missed your calling as
    a historian.

  2. Crap – yes, I should have cited sources.

    And yeah, I wrote it.

    Most of the biographical material on the Rider’s is from “Historical Sketches of Franklin County”, The Malone Telegram obituary of Edward Rider, and Ruth Ryan’s book “Star of the North Country”

    The information on the school itself mostly came from their annual reports, which the library has copies of, along with a Malone Telegram retrospective on the school when it closed.

    The infromation on subsequent uses of the school originally came from the librarian herself – I asked her “what did they do with the school after it closed” – and she answered that Clarkson used it for a while, and then it was deeded to the school. She called the town clerk’s office for me and got the deed infornation.

    There may have been more sources but I didn’t write them down, I just took notes at the library and came home and wrote the post.

    And me? A historian. Shirley you jest. I don’t do history.


  3. njgill said

    Despite giving up on Malone, the Gallaudets (father, mother, and sons) were an influential force in America for the education of the hearing-impaired:

    Thomas Gallaudet (June 3, 1822 – August 27, 1902), an American Episcopal priest, was born in Hartford, Connecticut. His father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, was the renowned pioneer of deaf education in the United States.

    After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Gallaudet accepted a teaching position in the New York Institution for Deaf-mutes, where he met and married Elizabeth Budd, who, like Gallaudet’s mother Sophia, was deaf.

    In 1856, Amos Kendall, a wealthy business man …donated two acres of his estate in northeast Washington, D.C. to establish housing and a school for 12 deaf and six blind students [later] … called the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind. From such modest beginnings evolved Gallaudet, a prestigious University of international importance.

    Edward Miner Gallaudet—son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, founder of the first school for deaf students in the United States—became the new school’s first superintendent. Gallaudet’s deaf mother, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, who was the widow of the Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, became the school’s matron.

    President Gallaudet presided over the first commencement in June, 1869 when three young men received diplomas for having completed the entire four-year course of studies. Their diplomas were signed by President Ulysses S. Grant and to this day the diplomas of all Gallaudet graduates are signed by the current U.S. President.

  4. Hatpin said

    Kim, you show all the hallmarks of a popular historian. You’re diligent, know how to research, and best of all, you can write for a lay audience and do it well. Plus, you’ve got a wicked sense of humour that could provide quite the icing on the historical cake.

    I hereby suggest – nay, command! – that you start forthwith on a popular history of … errmmm, not Malone, that wouldn’t sell … how about New York State? Or Vermont? Or anything?

  5. Amy said

    I am the Granddaughter of Darrel Rider. I never knew him because he died when my father was just 4 years old. Darrel was only 44 years old when he died of an ulcer. It is the opinion of his sons that the stress of the decline of the school was too much for him. I did have a wonderful relationship with his wife, my Grandma, Marcia Becker Rider. She lived in the turquoise?? teal??house near the buidings on College Ave. It now has a Cityscape painted on the garage. When I knew the house, it was white with a picket fence, a nice bay window and sunporch. Marcia died in 1980. She was a great lady.
    I grew up in Malone in the 80s, and have great memories of the town and the people. (I agree with your opinions that now it has growing problems. I do know quite a few NICE DECENT people in Malone still!) Anyways, I enjoyed reading your article which included some of my family history.

    • Janet Conley said

      I am the daughter of Lynton Chandler Rider (deaf son of Edward Chandler Rider) My father passed away in 1986. He spoke of a Marcia as a very nice person that he thought highly of. I never met any of my relatives on my dad’s side. He was 46 before he married my mom, therefore, he was an older parent. His brothers and parents passed away before I was born. Your grandmother was still alive but we never went back to Malone to visit her. One of my daughters loves history and has been asking about my heritage. I would love to hear more and perhaps we could fly back to see where my dad lived.

  6. Marie said

    I am a decent of Laurinda Winslow Thompson who was Grace (Ella) Winslow Rider. Her father was James Harvey Winslow, (Laurinda Brother). So Amy I guess you and I are related (distantly). I am very happy to see this article about the School and to rread a little about some of my family history. Thank-You for the nice article.

  7. why did you choose to right this great story said

    why did you choose to right this story

  8. why did you choose to right this story

    I just love the building. I think it’s gorgeous adn I wondered what it used to be. I am new to Malone, and I love and adore the architecture around here. I think it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.

    The School for the Deaf is just one part of a continuing series I have on some of the really nice buildings around here. I lvoe researching them all and seeing their history.


  9. wade rivers said

    i mow the ground at this site it was work i called for. i went to school there and had great thought about thooose days still.the mayor talked about the old mills st mill and had nothing done but blocked off so we now know he is not going through with that why run on aplate form using that .that was he,s words

  10. Brenda Lamitie Clark said

    Thank you for this great compilation of information regarding the deaf school. My grandparents and many of their friends attended this school. Their names were Moses Lamitie and Marie Rose Chenail. Are there any records of the names of students enrolled at the school? Do you have any other resources that I can access regarding the school? Also, are there any plans for the historical preservation of this property?

  11. BJ said

    Last fall I wrote an article in regards to these beautiful buildings that hold so many memories and history. I live across the street and look out on the old school and it’s majesty every day. Sometimes, the way the sun shines on it, it stands erect and glistens with beauty and I recall the joy it brought to many. Other times,when my family and I take a walk by there lately, I see the dilapidated ruins of what once held so much and feel it’s sagging roof and boarded windows are begging to relay a story… before it’s too late! The once beautiful curved moldings are beginning to fall on the ground and the long columns are now filled with debris and broken windows. I have taken many a photo there just to capture the beauty of it’s architecture-before it is no longer. While I never went to the Harrison School or have no ancesters who went to the School For The Deaf,I, too, have a past there. I graduated from Nursing School there in 1981 and also met my husband of twenty five years there. I have spoken to many people who also have some history with these buildings either themselves, or relatives, including my husband, who went to the Harrison school and apparently even has ancestors who went to the School For The Deaf. Every one of them had a story to tell about the good memories and the bad. People get excited talking about what it could become and what it once was…that tells me, that there is hope for it’s future and I just wish I could hear that the possibility is there!
    The whole point of my writing this is simply because I want to know what is to become of these buildings that holds so many memories and history? It is not just one, but at least five with a parking lot, large grounds and so much beauty and it is slowly crumbling! I would love to see something done to preserve it but have yet to hear anything. My letter-to-the editor last fall was sent at a time of voting in our town, so got no response what-so-ever. I will not give up though…I see it every day and it is such a shame that such a large bunch of buildings decompose daily! Surely, there must be something someone could do with it. I know it would have to involve a lot of money, but if money is to be had for other places of history, this one should be included.
    I would appreciate anyone else who is interested to let me hear from them as well.I am truly curious. Thanks.

  12. James W. Stone said

    Thank You for letting me see the Harrison School Pics as it did back in the days when it was first built. I am one of 4 sons and 2 daughters of Walter W. Stone who for many years did and enjoyed trying to keep up the beauty of the buildings. When i lived there in my younger years it was the best place to grow up. Where else could you have so many playgrounds and area’s to run and play. My family had lived in the building called the Annex. I’m not sure when they built the addition, it was a small building compared to the others. I can remember sitting with my father in the summer time just before the sun would set we would sit on a bench in front of our home and watch the chimney swallows dive into the chimney while the darkness covered the area. Of course this is just one memory that i carry during the 16 years that i lived at the Harrison School. Once again the pics were just amazing how beautiful that school was at one time. I just receantly went for a walk with my two dogs and i walked through the arcade (that is the area where the children walked from building to building) usually, to the buildings Gillbert Hall, Badger Hall, Ransom Hall. I could not hold back the tears while looking at all the beauty of the sculpure and art work that they put into these buildings, and to think it’s just going to hell. What a waist! What a waist!

  13. I am so glad and thank you for sharing the Pictures of the Harrison School. My mother had attended that school as a student I would say about 1928 her name was Frances Donar. My mother had married and had 2 children and my brother and I had no hearing problems. I have always wanted to see the place where mom had went to school. i also had a cousin who also attended the school His name was Fredrick Recore. They were from West Chazy N.Y. They have passed away. My mother would tell me she did not like the school she said there was alot of abuse. Why I do not know. I would like more history on this school. I am very interested with school. I would also like to see pics of the inside of the school. It is too bad to let the buildings of the school go to ruin. I hope some information could be shared to me about the school Thank you.

  14. Hi,

    My father Greg Shortal grew up in Malone and is visiting this weekend from V.A. He brought a postcard that my mother found from an antique store in Port Smith Mass dated 1907 with a picture on the front of the Deaf and Dumb Institution, Malone New York….It is even addressed to a Lady by the Name of Aurra Bille Hodge……in New York City…It was mailed from Whippleville New York….He is telling me now of all the memories he has from going to school (7th & 8th grade) Harrison School…..What a blast for him reading all these articles….I typed in the school name and found this webiste…Please respond to if you have any commnents…He can even remember his teachers names……Would lvoe to hear from all…..

  15. Born and raised in this area it was such a surprise to see the school in such ruin. Reading the report on the activities of the school and the names of the people involed was very interesting as I was able to recognize several names. I hope something good will come of it in the future. BJY

  16. My mother had went to that school as about 10 yrs old about 1929 and told me alot of stories about the school. I think the school should be restored. It is a ashame to see beautiful school buildings go to ruin.

  17. Hi, I would like the list of people that went to this school for the blind I am very interested on who went to this school. ty

  18. eric benware said

    I born malone ny 1972, but went elem school when i was hearing impaired. Later so far when i was teenage, i never knew had deaf school in malone new york. when i was young went used there building college they let me used there computer for resume. later so far i found out newspaper fews year ago they want set up deaf school in malone but gov. and federal rufused budget plans. So far i found out it deaf school it freak me out! it lovely when i went there touch in building. it sad me not want tore down ! i wish Strike to save building to rebuild for history ! i told many of people friends of mine deafs school nyssd trojans Rome in facebook they were SHOCKED ! they motives looked at the picture i put website of malone deaf school History ! thank for your listen me have good days further ! I am deaf Hearing Impared ! EJB P.S. Sorry i am not good english lang. write I’m using ASL strong lang. thank

  19. Like for me my vision a good about Malone School for the Deaf and Hope for Empire Association of the Deaf and my suggestion E.A.D could buy a campus the buildings with 41.43 acres of land and What is for call Apartment for Deaf live there then Why dont.
    I think be a nice of it.Because easy to go fishing and hunting and travel too.More fun.

    • Anonymous said

      More Fun in Event too.I think a good for E.A.D Board would consider about it.
      Oh, I pray the Lord will make them decision for good reason about Malone School for the Deaf become Empire Association of the Deaf could own them someday and will call Empire Association of the Deaf for Apartments.

  20. S. Herne said

    Thank you for writing this article. I recently photographed the buildings, too. Their conditions have further deteriorated. It is a shame they been allowed to fall into such disrepair. I spent 1st and 2nd grades there when it was Harrison Elementary. We were some of the last classes.

  21. what if a bunch of people got together to rasie money to fix up the school.

  22. afemar said

    i do believe at one point in time it was also used as north country community college.(if you already mentioned this i apologize for missing it) and its sad to see the soory state its in due to the decay of time…and the total lack of discipline of the kids living in malone. going and vandalizing it

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