Ruth Hodson Langenheim, a journalist from the Midwest, established West Falmouth Preschool in 1952 in the basement of the West Falmouth Library. She was the first teacher and director of the preschool. She was also a mother of five. After moving to West Falmouth from Boston in 1950, she realized there were no early educational opportunities for her younger two children. So she set out to find other young mothers in the area with a similar need and interest. Eventually, she organized the area’s first preschool – a parent cooperative – which began with a group of mothers taking turns supervising the children three mornings a week. Although, Ruth was a working reporter, she was willing to teach the first year of the West Falmouth Preschool to get it off the ground.
In 1967, the preschool temporarily moved to the Cataumet Methodist Church while the West Falmouth Library underwent an expansion. Two years later, the preschool incorporated itself and elected a Board of Directors, which still today, consists of six volunteers from the community, who provide assistance with the general management of the school.
Collectively, the Board had a larger vision for the preschool. They dreamed of having a permanent home – their own building with more classroom, office and storage space. It wasn’t long before the Board learned that the West Falmouth Library owned a half-acre, vacant lot behind the library – the perfect spot to build a school house.
In 1972, the Board purchased the land from the library in the name of West Falmouth Preschool. However, when a contracting company surveyed the land, it was determined that it would take a lot of work, time and money to build on the property, which was largely a steep, rocky ledge. For years, the land sat undeveloped. The preschool returned to the basement of the new addition of the West Falmouth Library where it remained until 2005.
It was in 2002, that Steve Good, whose daughter was enrolled at the school, realized the preschool owned the land and decided to take a look at it himself. He owned Good Builders, Inc., a development company specializing in the construction of homes in Falmouth and Bourne. He believed the project could be completed – no problem. And he was willing to do it.
Parents and teachers at the school then made a concerted effort to make the dream of having their very own school house…a reality.
An extended family member of the preschool community, Christopher Doonan, was an architect who specialized in architectural renderings for schools. He offered to create the construction plans for the school. Along with several parents, he helped push the plans through the town’s rigorous permitting approval process.
It would require roughly $175,000 to build the preschool. Family members with knowledge of and expertise in fundraising helped initiate a capital campaign called “Raising the Roof, After 50 Years.” Together, the group of hard-working, dedicated parents and teachers, successfully raised the funds in less than one year through generous donations provided by people and businesses in the Falmouth community.
Good Builders, Inc. began construction in 2004 and completed the project in 2005. Many local businesses and members of the community also joined in the effort, including Upper Cape Tech students who built the cupola and Falmouth Engineers Inc. who performed all the site work. Leading donor John F. Austin, a resident of West Falmouth, donated the school bell in the cupola, which rings each day, forever in his honor. He also provided the school’s flagpole. The school subsequently named its playground after Mr. Austin.
The school itself is named after Mr. and Mrs. Peter Ghiorse of Wycoff, New Jersey who, along with Mr. Austin and Good Builders, Inc., made a large contribution to help make the new school house a reality.
And so today, West Falmouth Preschool sits nestled back on 28 Blacksmith Shop Road, just around the corner from West Falmouth Library, in its very own building – a little red, one-room schoolhouse.