OLD SCHOOL OF THE DAY
Charlotte Hall Little Red Schoolhouse
38370 Point Breeze Rd.
Coltons Point, MD 20626
The St. Clement’s Island Museum rests on the east shore of the Potomac River overlooking St. Clement’s Island, Maryland’s First Colonial Landing in 1634. The Museum’s mission concentrates on Maryland’s earliest history and Potomac River heritage. The Museum focuses on the English history that preceded the voyage to Maryland relating the religious and political issues of the 16th and 17th centuries beginning with the vision of George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, to found a colony incorporating religious tolerance and his sons’ implementation of this vision. Also on the Museum grounds is the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” an authentic 19th century one-room school. Formerly known as the Charlotte Hall School, this building was built in the early 19th century, c. 1820. Originally located on Thompson Corner Road in the Charlotte Hall area of St. Mary’s County, the land it sat on was purchased from the Edwards family for $10 per acre. Records indicate that a good and substantial house of 16 feet square and of chestnut logs was erected for the sum of $150.
After completion, the school was attended by children in grades one through seven who lived within walking distance, which was 5 to 6 miles.There were no paved roads, and on rainy days the mud sometimes pulled the children’s rubbers right off their feet. In bad weather, there was no school. The school had a “cloakroom” where grades 1 through 3 met, while grades 4-5 and 6-7 met in the larger room. Those were the days of no electricity and no plumbing. Light came through the large windows and heat was provided by the wood-burning stove. Winter mornings were freezing until the stove got hot. Water was only available by cranking an outdoor hand pump and the restroom was an outhouse, one for the boys and one for the girls. There was no cafeteria. No gymnasium. No air conditioning. No bus transportation. The students who went to school here lived a simpler life. Different from today maybe, but they still learned the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The Little Red Schoolhouse was presented to the St. Clement’s Island Museum by the heirs of Maryland State Senator and member of the House of Delegates, Henry J. Fowler, Sr. Senator Fowler had attended the school in 1919. Many years later, Senator Fowler purchased the now decrepit building from the St. Mary’s County Board of Education for $5. The school was moved 3 miles from its original location to Horse Range Farm to be preserved as a museum. It was then moved in 1991 to its present location on the St. Clement’s Island Museum grounds where it has been restored and preserved as a St. Mary’s County historical treasure. Also donated were the building’s contents, including the desks and a picture of George Washington, and are replica “two-seater” outhouse. Sadly, none of the contents are from the original schoolhouse. The Little Red Schoolhouse stands restored and preserved on the grounds of the St. Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point, MD. This humble little structure stands as a monument to education in early America representing one of hundreds of one-room schoolhouses that have dotted this nation. Today, visitors can enter this preserved treasure of yesteryear and almost hear the sounds of days past within its walls. The Little Red Schoolhouse is open during the operating hours of the St. Clement’s Island Museum and is handicap accessible.