The building of Cologne School No. 9 was funded by the Liepe family for $295 plus produce in 1905. Designed by the Hamilton Township School Board, the land was carved from the Liepe farm acreage while the white cedar lumber for the building came from the Liepe farm. The stone came from quarry off of Holly Street – near where Frankfort Avenue has now been cut through.
Architecturally, the gray building had a single wide front porch with two entrances – on the north end for the girls and on the south for the boys. Each entrance led to a cloak room. The central window on the facade opened to a library, which also had the rope for ringing the bell in the bell tower.
The school room itself was painted a light green, and the ceiling was of tin. The small children sat in a row at the front while the bigger children sat at the rear. The basement contained a "modern" hot air heating system with brick chimney from the beginning – there was never a pot-belly stove. The basement was also used as a lunch room for the children.
Of course, there was a privy out back - a large oblong building with a high fence in front. As with the entrances, he north end was for the girls and the south for the boys.
The old school saw many teachers, including Mr. Gifford from Scullville, Mr. Applegate from Mays Landing, Mrs. Steelman, and Miss Whiteman (pictured top right). The last teacher was Lillian M. Van Horn (b. 1895). Lillian, daughter of Horace and Anna Van Horn, came from Morris County to teach at the school. She boarded with Charles and Anna Schmidt on Cologne Avenue in the early 1930s. She later became the bride of William Liepe (b. 1893).
Many members of the Liepe family attended this school following it's construction. Much of this information was first recorded by George W. Liepe (b. 1898 - second from left in top row), who attended Cologne School No. 9 beginning in 1907. One of the last was Alwyn Carl Liepe from about 1940 to 1945. Earlier generations attended at the Pomona School in Galloway Township.
Carl Harvey Liepe (b. 1911), who lived across the street, served as the school's custodian for many years. Carl himself attended here, but also attended the older school on Cologne Avenue – between Aloe Street and the railroad tracks in Galloway Township.
With the advent of reliable school buses, one-room school houses were no longer used by the Hamilton Township school system, and school buildings were sold at auction. After bidding against neighbor Charles Wynia (with Ted Filling as proxy), the school returned to the Liepe family in the late 1950s or early 1960s. It then served as the summer encampment for the many migrant workers need to operate the large Liepe Brothers farm at that time. The bell tower was removed in the 1970s, the bell donated to a Catholic Church in Italy. Sadly, Cologne School No. 9 has now fallen into disrepair, leaning to the northeast and nearing collapse.
Another one-room school house attended by the extended family was the Gravelly Run School. It was converted to a residence and still stands at the corner of Mays Landing - Somers Point Road and Babcock Road. Interestingly, about a half mile east on Babcock Road is one of Hamilton Township's newest schools – the George L. Hess Education Complex. George Hess was a long-time school board member and husband of Bertha Dorothy Liepe, Alwyn's sister.
From notes by George W. Liepe and the recollections of Alwyn Carl (Bud) Liepe and Paul Carl Liepe. January 2010.
Sadly, the Cologne School collapsed within months of this writing.