Diamond Rock Schoolhouse
Collection of the Wharton Esherick Museum
Images courtesy of Wharton Esherick Museum; “Octagonal School,” woodcut by Wharton Esherick, 1928; “Diamond Rock School – Winter,” woodcut by Wharton Esherick, 1928.
After Esherick converted his painting studio in the family home Sunekrest back into a bedroom to accommodate his growing family, he relocated to this one-room octagonal schoolhouse. Nestled at the foot of Diamond Rock Road, named for an outcrop of rock studded with quartz crystals, Esherick had helped restore the building as a community center after years of disrepair. It was erected in 1818, when a small community of Mennonite and other local families built the facility as a place to educate their children, and ceased operation as a schoolhouse in 1864. The building remained abandoned for decades until, beginning in 1909, the Diamond Rock Old Scholars’ Association (later the Diamond Rock Schoolhouse Preservation Association) took up the mantle of care.
Esherick rented the building from the Association’s head, Emma Wersler and used it as his painting studio for about four years. Lighted by windows on seven of its walls, each originally designated for a single grade’s worth of students, it proved an ideal space in which Esherick could paint — and take a break from family life. Esherick also depicted the building many times in paintings and prints.
The most recent addition to the campus, the Schoolhouse became part of the Museum’s holdings in 2018. The Wharton Esherick Museum facilitates visitation to the property for the public at selected times during each summer.