A Second Life for Schoolhouses
You're out for a drive and your eye catches what is surely, or once was, a one-room school. You count the windows, you notice a double entry, possibly a small portico, a bell tower, an outhouse. Outdated playground equipment? A well pump? It may be on its original site or moved for its very preservation. It may be brick, stone, plank, shingled, shaked or sided. Red, white, blue, green, or yellow. You make a u-turn for a second look and a potential photo.
You walk the grounds of your latest find. You might peer into the windows. You imagine the long walks to school, the dedicated young teacher, the schoolyard games, the organization of a multi-aged and ability grouped classroom. You envision the changing seasons and the decorations and the holiday plays.
This is our quest. Many of us are always on the lookout for the remaining one-room schools across the country. It is hardly different from bird-watching and just as exciting to the history buff and country school enthusiast. We are lucky that thousands have been preserved in some capacity across the country, and it takes some off-beat travel to find them.
You may get lucky and locate one that continues to operate as a public school! We understand that fewer than 400 of the 219,000 public schools that once operated are still being used as full-time schools, and that number is decreasing annually. (This does not take into consideration the Amish one-room schools of America.)
But while we may wish the remaining schoolhouses were all restored to an appropriate time period, complete with desks and inkwells and slates and books, we are often content to know someone has had the foresight to preserve one of our nation's icons for some measure of a second life.
If you have photographed a schoolhouse along your travels, send it in to our CSAA newsletter with pertinent information such as location, surroundings, and use. Google the building to locate additional information and include the link. We would love to post your photo to share with our readers.
Our August Entry:
Thompsonville School, now a 4-H Clubhouse on the 4-H Fairgrounds, East Middleboro, MA.