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Oldest Wooden School House, St. Augustine, FL

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Oldest Wooden School House

14 St. George Street

St. Augustine, FL 32084

1-888-653-7245

The oldest wooden schoolhouse in the United States dates back to the early 18th century. Located near the Old City Gates in the area that was known as the “Minorcan Quarter,” the Old School House is a surviving expression of another time, built over 200 years ago, while Florida was under the rule of Imperial Spain. The house was originally a homestead belonging to Juan Genoply. The building is constructed of red cedar and cypress. Everything was made by hand, even the nails. Wooden pegs keep the timbers in place. There are no extant wooden buildings in St. Augustine built prior to 1702 when the British burned the city. The exact date of construction is unknown.  The house first appears on the tax rolls for the year 1716, but more than likely it existed years before then.  Government moved slowly in colonial days and communication between the Spanish Crown and the little garrison town took a long time before taxes were assessed.  The schoolmaster and his wife lived upstairs, above the small classroom. The building had no electricity, no running water, no privy, and no kitchen. The customs of the day dictated that their kitchen was separated from the main building, because of the threat of fire and to spare the house of any excess heat during the long, hot summers. Several of the cooking utensils used in those days are displayed here for the visitor. In the schoolhouse, related artifacts and copies of the books the pupils studied from are exhibited.  The privy was dug away from the main building and a small building was constructed around it for privacy. Drinking water was drawn from the well.  When Juan Genoply was a bachelor the small one-room house was sufficient to his needs. But when he married and the house became a school, an addition was needed to allow privacy and separate functions.  The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse was also the first co-ed school, as it educated both girls and boys together beginning in 1788. Copies of the textbooks used by students, along with related school artifacts are on display in the schoolhouse along with several cooking utensils of the time. After touring the schoolhouse visitors may walk through the garden and see the kitchen, the privy and the well. The patio and grounds are a typical green garden with tropical plants such as hibiscus and bird-of-paradise, including one not-so-typical white bird-of-paradise. Plenty of shade trees and comfortable benches offer a cozy spot for a moment of rest and reflection. The old pecan tree has been authenticated to be at least 250 years old and still bears nuts. The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse is encircled by a large chain, placed there in 1937, to help anchor it to the ground in case of a hurricane. it has had recent maintenance such as a new roof among other fixes. Visitors to the Oldest Wooden School House can tour the property and become acquainted with the daily life of school children in the eighteenth century.  The school is open every day except Christmas from 9 to 5 with extended summer hours. The facility features a self-guided tour with a robotic professor and student giving a brief history on the house. There are also numerous items with information posted around the building to read. For additional information, call (904)824-0192.

http://www.oldestwoodenschoolhouse.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_Wooden_Schoolhouse

http://augustine.com/thing-to-do/oldest-wooden-school-house

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