The Story of America’s One Room School Houses

In just a handful of days America’s school children will be heading back to school for the start of a new school year.

Though not all, many will be returning to multi-million dollar facilities, complete with full handicap accessibility, high end athletic fields, computer labs and state of the art security systems.

In addition to the buildings themselves, an army of educators, support staff, administration and resource officers will crowd the hallways of America’s public schools in the coming days.

Interestingly, school, as we know it in America is largely a design of the previous generation and has greatly changed in appearance and composition over the last century.

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19 Responses to The Story of America’s One Room School Houses

  1. MTD says:

    There are a few of these old school houses preserved in my region and when I see them I’m always impressed by how hardy the students and teachers must have been in those times. Not to mention that kids graduating at 8th grade level back then were head and shoulders smarter than college grads these days.

  2. rob says:

    I’ve got a photo of my mother teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in the ’30s, eight grades in one room.

    Downstate Illinois, not quite Appalachia but damned close.

  3. Tim in AK says:

    My first two years of school were in a one room school house in a logging camp in S.E. Alaska.
    It had 13 students K-8th grade.
    After 8th grade a kid had to move to Wrangell to go to high school.

  4. Worker says:

    My father and mother were both teachers in Northern Calif. in the 1930’s and early 1940’s (Humboldt and Mendiceno counties). He took a great many pictures (b/w) of the various schools and sadly, 1) all are gone now and 2) no one seems to give a shit about the pictures – sad to see a way of life die.

    • warhorse says:

      I think you might be amazed at how many people give a shit about the pictures. get them scanned and put some up online and see who reacts.

  5. Daryl says:

    I started out in a two room school, shit house and hand pump well outside. Four classes in each room, about five kids each and a big coal stove. could open the partition and if necessary one teacher for all classes.

  6. Sooper Edd says:

    EVERY election here in Colorado they are begging for more money for education and I always ask,” what in the hell could they possibly need that they don’t already have that is going to enhance their education?”

    • Elmo says:

      It’s not about enhancing students’ education. It’s about keeping the teachers and administrators pension fund afloat.

  7. pigpen51 says:

    Here in Michigan, we had one room school houses into the 1960’s. There are many around still. A few are converted into houses by people. I looked at one with the idea of buying it when I was 18, and just making some decent money, and pissing it away. I wanted something to show for my money. But I found a friend who had a house he wanted to sell, that he had replaced the furnace, plumbing, wiring, and some of the windows. He was trying to flip it, but got disinterested. I bought it for 16,500$. Land contract, 500$ down 150$ per month.
    I fixed it up a bit more with carpet and panelling and rented it out. Moved in a couple of years later. The school house I looked at, was nothing but a shell. I would have had to do everything. I could have bought the entire thing, with one acre, for 5,000$., but it would have cost me at least 20,000$ plus my labor to get it anywhere near living condition, and that is with a wood stove, new windows, all electrical and plumbing, interior walls, etc. Of course, back in 1978, things were cheaper, but it still would have cost 20K. Now, I probably would have had to hire licensed plumbers and electricians for everything.
    The school house is still standing there, so far as I know. The Klondike school house. We had one called Huber school, that I think might still be there too. Kids did learn in those schools.

  8. brighteyes says:

    I started in a one room. My older brother went all the way through and two sisters got to the third and fifth grades. We move to a town that had a big school 1-12. No kindergarten. My Grandmother taught one room for many years. When they closed the one rooms she was one of the only teachers with a degree in education and was absorbed into city schools.

  9. MadMarlin says:

    Here’s a pic of one of those old school houses. This one is in Fayetteville, NC

  10. While I’m not against romanticising the past, one must remember that both the depth and breadth of knowledge required to be a productive citizen has grown over the decades to the point that a single teacher isn’t going to be able to properly instruct children in all of it any longer, especially in a mixed setting with children of all ages sitting in that room together getting parallel instruction.

    And that’s reflected in industry, where the car that a single person would be able to build because it was a simple construct in the late 1800s now requires many specialisations to put together. It’s no longer just a mechanical device, but a computer as well, for example.

  11. Bad_Brad says:

    Thought I’d throw this in here. The worst school massacre on record occurred in 1927. Did the asshole use an AR. LOL. No he bolted all the doors shut and set the school house on fire. You can find it under the Bath School House disaster. Today the’d let him free. After all, there were no firearms involved.

  12. Bert says:

    Hickory Grove, Oak Grove, and the nearby Walnut Grove were some of the one rooms still standing back in the ’60’s where I lived, though they had not had students for probably 20 years. Wifey went to a 1-8 elementary school that was its own school district-was run by neighbors who saw the value of doing what was right.

  13. TheOtherSean says:

    There is a great three-room schoolhouse (two classrooms on first floor, auditorium/gym/theater upstairs) near Milford, OH that is now a restaurant. One classroom is the kitchen, the other is the dining room, and the banquet hall occupies the auditorium space. Lots of good entrees, with the sides served family style in giant bowls.

  14. WestcoastDeplorable says:

    We should go back to one room schoolhouses because kids today aren’t getting the education they need to survive. They’re way to busy trying to indoctrinate our kids into the LGBTqrst lifestyle. “LGBT history”? Gimme a break. Check this test from 1912 in Bullitt county, KY:

  15. Stonyground says:

    I am sixty years old and live in the UK. my first school was a brick building with two classrooms. It actually consisted of a single large room that was divided in two by a wooden partition that could be folded away when required.

Play nice.