Then and Now
“I see a sleeping porch!” said a student looking up from the corner of Bedford Road and Parkway, in Katonah.
“You’re right,” said Julia Klagsbrun, a member of the Katonah Village Improvement Society and Katonah Elementary School (KES) mom. She was leading fourth graders from KES on a scavenger hunt for architectural features in downtown Katonah.
“Why do you think old homes have sleeping porches? What didn’t people have one hundred years ago that we have today?”
A Scavenger Hunt Through Historic Katonah
Learning about Katonah--The Village that Moved
Students scrutinized the one-hundred-year homes in Katonah’s Historic District for items on their check list. Within a four blocks radius they found not only sleeping porches, but brackets, a gambrel roof, railings, turned posts, finials, Queen Anne windows, fish scale shingles, conical roofs, and an eyebrow window.
“The bulk of our social studies is the study of New York State,” said Rebecca Wayland, a fourth- grade teacher at KES. “This tour takes it to a very local level!"
The second part of the field trip was a presentation on Katonah as “the village that moved” by Deirdre Courtney-Batson, a member of the Katonah Planning Board and chair of the Katonah Historic District Commission. Using archival photos, she told the incredible story of how, in 1895, the people of Katonah jacked up their homes and pulled them with horses to the present-day location because the original village was flooded to create a reservoir.
“The people realized that what makes Katonah Katonah is not its particular piece of geography,” Courtney-Batson told the students. “It’s the relationships between neighbors and the organizations they've formed.”
Children had many questions, mostly about the horses used to move the homes.
“Wouldn’t a house be too heavy for a horse to pull?"
“How many horses were used at a time?"
“Did the horses get hurt?"
“I think it’s special to come from a town that picked up and moved,” Klagsbrun told the students before they walked back to school.