Constructed in 1873, the South Branch School House in Branchburg Township is a one-room building in the Victorian-Italianate style of architecture. From 1873 to 1950 it educated children in grades 1 through 8.

In 1848, Henry Barnard published School Architecture, which offered designs and ideas for model schoolhouses. Following his advice, schools were built with rectangular plans on raised foundations, with the gable end would serving as the front. The longer side walls featured multiple double-sash windows, and the classrooms offered high ceilings. Up until shortly after the Civil War, their style and manner of construction mirrored churches and meetinghouses.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

Students faced a windowless wall at the back. The school also incorporated a raised platform at one end for when the classroom was used for assemblies. The South Branch School House was one of the first in the area built expressly as a tuition-free public school following the New Jersey Free School Act of 1871. With a room size of about 24 or 25 feet square the school was designed to accommodate 50 students.

Writing in the 1874 Annual Report of the New Jersey Department of Education, State Superintendent of Education Ellis Apgar wrote:

Every school should be well furnished. Everything added to make the schoolroom comfortable, convenient, and attractive, facilitates the work of education. A teacher cannot be expected to do good work without the proper tools. The desks furnished the children should be of the most approved style; they should have folding seats, so as to allow of freedom of motion in marching, callisthenics, and general exercises. Settees placed in front of the teacher’s desk are convenient for recitation purposes. The teacher’s desk should be neat and substantial, having at least six drawers in it. There should be three or four chairs, a thermometer, an eight-day clock, a small globe, a call bell, and other conveniences for teaching.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

Peak attendance at the school hit 95 in 1875. Due to declining enrollment, in 1950 Branchburg Township built a new built a consolidated elementary school and use of the Little Red School House dropped even further.

In 1963, the Branchburg Board of Education sold the schoolhouse to Branchburg Township, and work was begun on a restoration project to coincide with the township’s tercentenary. Closing in 1965, the South Branch Schoolhouse was the last one-room school in use in Somerset County. Restoration worked continued into 2005, when the school was placed on the state and national registers of historic places.

The famous opera singer, Anna Case, attended the school in the late 1890s.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

I shot from a tripod and bracketed my shots. The Classic Chome Fujifilm Film Simulation preset was applied to each image and the images combined in Photomatix Pro. The Natural filter was applied in Photomatix Pro and the resulting image was imported back into Adobe Lightroom for further adjustment.

Sources

South Branch School House, VisitSomeresetNJ.org, Somerset County, https://visitsomersetnj.org/fun-somerset-nj/south-branch-school-house/
Greg Gillette, South Branch Schoolhouse, My Central Jersey, 7:00 a.m. ET May 25, 2017, https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/view-from-hillsborough/2017/05/25/south-branch-schoolhouse-2/102137624/
Kelly, Somerset County’s Last One-Room Schoolhouse: South Branch, The History Girl, Kelly, 2015/02, https://www.thehistorygirl.com/2015/02/south-branch-schoolhouse-nj.html

While on my way to photograph the South Branch School House yesterday, I noticed the ice floating on this section of River Road along the Raritan River in Hillsborough. I could the river through the trees, which only caught my eye because the trees had no leaves. Even though I have driven along this section of the river in the past, I don’t recall noticing before, perhaps because the trees were full of leaves. I made a mental note that, after photographing the schoolhouse, I would stop somewhere nearby and walk along the river.

I parked in the parking lot of the South Branch Bible Fellowship building on Orchard Road and walked back toward the river making sure to carefully cross River Road. I walked along the south-west trail noticing a large number of fallen trees. I walked closer to the edge of the river which I noticed had a steep drop from what is perhaps erosion from water from when the Raritan River was flooded. I noticed that many of the trees were hanging from the edges of the river bank, barely staying upright.

This image is from the set I used for Frank Jansen’s weekly photo challenge.

Best Photo of the Week is personal photography project where I post the best image captured that week. The image will be posted at the end of the week. That will be a Sunday. I can take one or 100 photos for the week but I will post only one, the best one.

I shot from a tripod and bracketed my shots. The Classic Chome Fujifilm Film Simulation preset was applied to each image and the images combined in Photomatix Pro. The Natural filter was applied in Photomatix Pro and the resulting image was imported back into Adobe Lightroom for further adjustment.

While on my way to photograph the South Branch School House yesterday, I noticed the ice floating on this section of River Road along the Raritan River in Hillsborough. I could the river through the trees, which only caught my eye because the trees had no leaves. Even though I have driven along this section of the river in the past, I don’t recall noticing before, perhaps because the trees were full of leaves. I made a mental note that, after photographing the schoolhouse, I would stop somewhere nearby and walk along the river. I thought that perhaps I could capture something interesting for Frank’s weekly photo challenge. The keyword was rose and perhaps I could find something rising up from the Raritan River.

South Branch or the Raritan River, South Branch, Hillsborough Township, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

I parked in the parking lot of the South Branch Bible Fellowship building on Orchard Road and walked back toward the river making sure to carefully cross River Road. I walked along the south-west trail noticing a large number of fallen trees, some of which blocked the path ahead entirely. I was forced to clamber over the large trunk of a fallen tree whose now-dead branches were twisted in many places. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise? If trees could make noises this one would have howled out in pain.

South Branch or the Raritan River, South Branch, Hillsborough Township, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

I gingerly walked closer to the edge of the river bank. There was a sudden and steep drop off from what is perhaps erosion during heavy rains when the water rose up. In some spots along the bank, I saw small, steep and very gravely paths that led down to the water’s edge. I decided against using the path. I was carrying a camera and a tripod. If lost footing I would have slid right into the frigid water.

I settled for photographing from the bank of the river. Definitely no sunshine and roses in that scenario!

Many of the trees were hanging from the edges of the river bank, barely staying upright. This last image was the one I chose for my best of the week project.

South Branch or the Raritan River, South Branch, Hillsborough Township, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

All of the images were processed in Adobe Lightroom. I shot from a tripod and bracketed my shots. The Classic Chome Fujifilm Film Simulation preset was applied to each image and the images combined in Photomatix Pro. The Natural filter was applied in Photomatix Pro and the images imported back into Adobe Lightroom for further adjustment.

The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography. This week’s theme is rose.