Monroe connects with slate

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse

It is funny how an idea, an object, or a person can make unexpected connections for us.

MCHA Executive Director Amy Leiser’s article on the urgency to replace the Stroud Mansion roof in the last issue of
The Fanlight made an immediate connection for me. The connection was not the roof itself, but the material to be used for the new roof.

Slate has been mined in Wales since 1200 and in our immediate area since the 1850s. Early slate workers immigrated here to work hundreds of feet underground in dangerous conditions. The slate quarries of Bangor were so numerous that the area is still known as the Slate Belt.

Most people know that slate is used for both roofing and flooring because of its durability. The natural beauty of slate has opened a whole new area of decorative pieces for the home and office.

However, like me, most MCHA members associate slate with something else. For me slate brings back memories of early schools and chalkboards. Slate chalkboards became widespread in schools by the mid-1800s. Who doesn’t remember clapping chalkboard erasers laden with chalk dust or the piercing shrill of chalk on the board?

Slate chalkboards have been replaced in most school with modern technology. There is still one place where you can recreate these memories and that is here at the Stroud Mansion in the toy room, where a corner is devoted to early one-room schools. There you will find a hand-held wood framed slate that went home each day with the student.

The school room corner, in addition to a variety of games and toys, will appeal to both young and older visitors. It provides a great opportunity to reminisce with families and friends and to introduce children to the past.