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The 200 Block of Central Ave

Above, you see one of the many reasons I love the location of my house in Runnemede.
Our home is directly across the street from the Runnemede School, aka Downing Elementary.
Built partially in 1927 and finished in 1930, this brick schoolhouse is a beaut.
Being a historical building enthusiast, I was immediately attracted to the old structure, and it only heightened my interest in the property.

The school brightens my day on the regular for a number of reasons which I will outline now.
#1- On the old front facade of the building (no longer in use) along Central, there is a fantastic whimsical painted glass window above the double doors. The scene consists of a kitten in a boat with a duck's head carved into the mast, asail on a strange sea, and a smirking moon watching over the fairy tale duo.It is beautifully done and shines so wonderfully blue while the janitors are working at night.
Upon first glance, I was convinced that the window was original to the building. I am so smitten by the window that it is a must stop on the house tour for first time Chateau Benedict visitors. Turns out the the piece was completed by Ken Leap of Runnemede (circa 1993), Downing school alum, and son of the town historian, Bill Leap.

My husband bought me a weekend long workshop with Ken at Wheaton Village for Xmas a couple of years back.
He was not impressed that I knew of and loved his window, nor his father's ridicuously long book- A History of Runnemede NJ.
The window is so beautiful, the fact that it's creator was kind of  a butt head does not detract from my love of it.

#2- Every spring and summer night right after the birds make their final flight for the day, you can see a moderately large colony of bats fly out of the chimney on top of the school and begin their hunt for the local fare. The fact that I can set up a chair in my driveway whenever I want and see such a cool display is just the best.
Last summer the chimney required repairs. When I saw the contractors out working on the roof, I was sure to stop and inform the foreman of the colony of bats, as to not disturb them of course. I was worried that they might have intentionally messed with the bats because for a while there, I really thought they had moved their home. Alas, I have seen their return this spring and am quite pleased. Not a better place for them in all the town!

#3- Each night in one of the classrooms facing my house, there is a weird tv that is left on, and the screen shines blue all night long in the dark dark classroom. I can see it from my house and it just creeps me the hell out. Turn that  dang thing off for crying out loud.
The tv adds some mystery to the school and I like it. I have never been inside, only in my dreams. Literally.

#4- The facade of the school itself if very interesting: It is adorned with unorthodox brick designs, has the classic "Boys" and "Girls" separate entrances, and has a beautiful poem posted to the front wall of the school dedicated to all of thier students who have passed on. Gets me everytime!

The old school is a Runnemede treat and I am glad that I know of it's glory.


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I too enjoy the school. I just hate the screaming recess children. Luckily I'm usually at stupid work while they play in the schoolyard without a care in the world. Those dead-beats need jobs!!!!

Im surprised you didn't mention the infamous Downing School Ghost. Legend has it that....Uh hmm. (clearing my throat)its the same proverbial ball in the street routine every town has. But because you live next store I'm convinced of its Merit. Maybe hes the one who's watching the tube into the wee hours.

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