Mooresburg One Room. Mooresburg, PA



Mooresburg One Room Schoolhouse

Route 642-45 east

Mooresburg, PA

The Mooresburg One-Room Schoolhouse stands as the only remaining one-room school building in Montour County, PA. It is a one-story brick vernacular building measuring thirty-five feet by twenty-eight feet on a fieldstone foundation.  Surviving records say that more than 90 such schools once existed in the county. These same records indicate the students who passed grades one through eight went on to higher education and were well-versed in geography, history and the humanities. For a lot of the students, these schools often provided the only source of actual book learning a child received.  The old one-room school was erected in 1875 by Liberty Township and was rebuilt in 1891. The Valley Township School closed in 1964, the last of these schools in Montour County.  The teachers that taught in one-room, rural schools were very special people. During the winter months they would get to the school early to get a fire started in the potbelly stove, so the building would be warm for the students. On many occasions they would prepare a hot, noon meal on top of the stove, usually consisting of soup or stew of some kind. They took care of their students like a mother hen would care for her chicks; always looking out for their health and welfare.

A typical school day was 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with morning and afternoon recesses of 15 minutes each and an hour period for lunch. The older students were given the responsibility of bringing in water, carrying in coal or wood for the stove. The younger students would be given responsibilities according to their size and gender such as cleaning the blackboard, taking the erasers outside for dusting plus other duties that they were capable of doing.  Transportation for children who lived too far to walk was often provided by horse-drawn wagons which could only travel a limited distance in a reasonable amount of time each morning and evening, or students might ride a horse, these being put out to pasture in an adjoining paddock during the day. In more recent times, students rode bicycles and took buses.  The vast majority of one-room schools in the United States are no longer used as schools and have either been torn down or converted for other purposes. Soon after the Mooresburg School closed it was taken over by the Montour County Historical Society and is now the Mooresburg One-Room Schoolhouse Museum. The museum houses some of the original furniture, school books, and the still operable school bell. Many items were donated by the Danville Area School District. The old room heater, a Beaver Furnace manufactured by the Danville Stove and Manufacturing Company still sits in the corner.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the schoolhouse, flanked immediately to the south by two outhouses and a coal shed, depicts the history of education not only in Montour County, but even in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition to the school items on display, there are many photographs and other pieces of interest pertaining to the community of Mooresburg. Included is the pottery wheel of John Ack whose father, Daniel, established a pottery business in 1875. Ack crocks and jugs, bearing the name Ack are collector’s items. Also on display is a wealth of memorabilia on Christopher Latham Sholes, the father of the modern typewriter, who once lived in the area. A Stecker Rocker made by Moses Stecker, manufacturer of fine furniture in the Mooresburg area, can be seen at the schoolhouse. A collection of Indian arrowheads, gathered on nearby farms, a bearskin coat and several area maps are all on display in the museum. In 1993 a Carriage House was added to the original schoolhouse building. The Carriage House also contains displays of Montour County History, including; military uniforms worn by area residents, children’s clothing from the early years of school operations, old class photos, props from school plays, and school books.  The Mooresburg One Room School stands out as the least altered survivor  and the best preserved example of the small nineteenth and early twentieth century rural schools in Montour County.

South Egremont School, South Egremont, MA



South Egremont School

42 Main Street

South Egremont, MA 01258

Nestled in the heart of a quaint New England village, the South Egremont School is a two-room school house that hosts a unique program.  A far cry from the average 21st century school building, the South Egremont School offers many intangibles that cannot be matched elsewhere. The program is fully integrated to work within the confines of the 1881 building, and is an integral part of the South Egremont community and the Southern Berkshire Regional School District. The two-room South Egremont School, with its white picket fence, beloved teacher, and village center location, is one of the last of its kind.  In 2017, the school program was scheduled to be suspended indefinitely after the Southern Berkshire Regional School District decided not to fund it in its 2018 budget. But attorneys for the town and the district said that closing the school was illegal because it breaks the regional agreement between the towns.

The far-flung district now runs four schools in three different towns, and like most rural districts is struggling to keep costs down as student populations shrink, buildings age, and insurance and other rates go up.  The South Egremont School had 15 students in kindergarten and first grade, seven of whom choice in from other districts. It costs about $100,000 per year to run.  Three board members supported keeping the school open, and the town planned to put $250,000 into the historic building for repairs. In April of 2018, the Select Board chose general contractor Salco Construction Co., of Pittsfield, which bid $358,182 on the job.  The school is on the State Register of Historic Places, so work needed to comply with the state’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

There were six students enrolled for the 2018-19 academic year in Egremont, and the school was cleared to open for the upcoming school year.  At the time of bidding in December, Egremont had sought proposals to make the building accessible and compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, but the cost was prohibitive. However, the school won a temporary waiver from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, permitting full use of the building this school year.   The school does not have to comply with access requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act until August 2019. Historic buildings that are not Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant are restricted in how often and what type of events can be held there.

Hill School. Chester, MT



Hill School

Hill School Rd.

Chester, MT 59522

Montana has so many rural schoolhouses because pioneer families decided no child should ride a horse or walk farther than five miles to attend school. The circa 1900 Hill School near Chester, Montana, was constructed around the turn of the twentieth century and used continuously until 1967 when it closed. While the building appeared to be structurally sound, it had deteriorated over the years and needed a great deal of repair, mostly to the exterior.   Using Montana History Foundation funds, Ted and Connie Mathis replaced broken windows, caulked, scraped, primed and painted window casings, repaired the roof ridge caps, painted the flag pole and purchased a new flag, repaired or replaced hardware and fittings, repaired the chimney, and scraped and painted the building.


Sand Springs School 3194, Sand Springs, MT



Sand Springs School

3194 MT Hwy 200 West

Sand Springs, MT 59077

It’s a 76 mile ride from Winnett, Montana to Jordan, Montana.  There are three stops on Highway 200 that make the ride more interesting.  The first is Cat Creek, Montana, the location of Montana’s first commercial Oil Boom that began in the early 1920’s.  The second is the tiny community of Mosby, Montana. The third and final stop along Highway 200 is Sand Springs, Montana, an unincorporated community in southwestern Garfield County, southwest of the town of Jordan, the county seat of Garfield County..  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that sixty species of mammals and more than 235 species of birds have been observed on the nearby War Horse Refuge.  Sand Springs is over 100 years old, founded at the turn of the 20th century by sheep, cattle, and horse ranchers. It has a population of about 90 people. It gets its name from the wide expanse of sandy soil and life-giving springs in the area. Most people currently make a living as ranchers and farmers. Sand Springs School has a one-room schoolhouse that serves 5 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Guerrilla Curriculum: How to Get An Education In Spite of School

The Guerrilla Curriculum: How to Get An Education In Spite of School
By John Taylor Gatto

[Editor’s note: Here is another offering from one of the great “school reformers” of the modern era, the late John Taylor Gatto. His article is “How To Get An Education in Spite of School” and he speaks and writes from his personal experience as a junior high teacher in New York City for 30 years.]

An intelligent and sensitive woman named Mary Wallech, when asked by her grown son Martin, my good friend, to consider the possibility that America’s wars were never fought for the reasons offered by great newspapers and television stations, replied simply, “It’s better not to know.” I recall Mrs. Wallech to you, not to explore any implications of her thesis or that of her son, but to underline for all of us how difficult it is to come to terms with the concept “education,” how slippery.

Was Mary Wallech content to remain ignorant, simply to be the peasant cut off from the larger world that her immigrant ancestors were, or was she wise beyond her years in understanding that the pursuit of forbidden knowledge often ruins the seeker, that the malice of the great ones who seek to fool ordinary people is unfathomable at bottom, another of the eternal deficiencies of human nature? That attending too closely to unraveling their deceits can unravel, instead, one’s faith in the ultimate goodness of the universe? That the loss of faith is a worse harm than being gulled?

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Argenta School – Beaverhead County Museum, Dillon, MT



Argenta School – Beaverhead County Museum

15 South Montana Street

Dillon, MT 59725

Baldy Mountain looms over Argenta, Montana, a old silver-mining town along Rattlesnake Creek in the foothills of the Pioneer Mountains. Gold was first discovered near here in 1862, but it was the silver deposits in the area that made for successful mining here. The mining lasted at least until the 1930’s; tailings piles can be spotted on the hills around Argenta as evidence of that today. Argenta survives today as a community with several homes. A post office first opened at Argenta in 1871 (February 15) with George French as postmaster. It closed in 1904 (February 29) but opened again in 1906 (June 13) with Fred Randolph as postmaster. The Argenta post office was closed for good in 1935 (January 31). The old Argenta School building can be found in Dillon at the Beaverhead County Museum.

Beaverhead County Museum has been collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting local history for over 50 years. The museum is housed in a log building complex in downtown Dillon. The friendly volunteers will greet visitors at the door and offer a wealth of information. Visitors will see an authentic homesteader’s cabin, the first flush toilet outhouse in Dillon, mining and agriculture equipment and can enjoy a picnic in the pavilion. Additions to the museum include a Lewis and Clark diorama, a natural history exhibit and a small theater, a one room school house, and a 1909 Union Pacific Depot. The facilit available for research about the area including family research.

The Argenta School, which is part of the Beaverhead County Museum campus, serves as a reminder of Montana’s one-room schoolhouse legacy. The schoolhouse is used as a community center and helps provide educational programs. The building was facing high levels of sunlight that was damaging the interior of the structure. Using Montana Historical Foundation funds, Beaverhead County Museum Association purchased and installed UV windows to protect the schoolhouse from the damaging effects of the sun.

Pine Creek School, Livingston, MT



Pine Creek School

2575 E River Rd.

Livingston, MT 59047

Pine Creek School is located in Park County, Montana.  A picture, taken in 1898 at the Pine Creek School when Miss Sherman was the teacher, shows a group of students.  It was taken from the local paper January 30, 1964. The building has been expanded and is still in use as a public school.

Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, Kinderhook, NY



Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse

2589 NY Rt. 9H

Kinderhook, NY 12106

The Columbia County Historical Society owns four historic properties including a museum and research library open to the public. The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse is a rural 19th-century building that served as a local single-room public school into the 1940s.  The Schoolhouse site features a new ‘Legends and Lore’ historical marker awarded by the New York Folklore Society and William G. Pomeroy Foundation honoring Washington Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow” character ‘Ichabod Crane’—who was patterned after Jesse Merwin, the original Kinderhook Schoolteacher who taught at the earliest one-room log-cabin school here.  Dedication of the new marker was accompanied by a public reading of an excerpt of the short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, and screening of an adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by documentary filmmaker Jim Ormond.  Washington Irving was a friend of Martin Van Buren and lived at the Van Ness home in Kinderhook for several months in 1809 after the death of his fiancée. The author wrote portions of A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty in Kinderhook, during which time he befriended Jesse Merwin, the Kinderhook schoolteacher. Two twenty-something intellectuals in rural Columbia County, Irving and Merwin became friends, rode trails and went fishing together; after Irving moved on, the two friends continued their correspondence for more than three decades.  Each year, hundreds of fourth graders from all over Columbia County and the Capital Region visit the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse and discover first-hand how arithmetic and cursive handwriting were learned in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and how a Columbia County schoolteacher has been immortalized in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Originally located on land at the corner of  9H and Fischer Road, the schoolhouse was the second school built on that site, and was moved to the Luykas Van Alen house property after the local school district centralized.  During the 1970s it was restored to its 1930s appearance.  The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse is open seasonally–all summer and fall–along with the Luykas Van Alen House.

Eight Square Schoolhouse, Dryden, NY



Eight Square Schoolhouse

Upper Hanshaw Road

Dryden, New York

Eight Square Schoolhouse, also known as Dryden District School No. 5, Eight Square Schoolhouse, is a historic octagonal school building located in Dryden in Tompkins County, New York.   Built in 1827 by local carpenter Henry Balcom, it is one of Tompkins County’s finest local landmarks. It is the earliest school still existing in Tompkins County, and the only brick octagonal schoolhouse left standing in New York State. Why eight sides? The philosophy of octagonal-shaped school buildings can be traced to a Quaker tradition brought over from the old country. The concept is based on the idea that an octagon shape was conducive to a better learning environment because the instructor could be placed in a prominent position within the space and be the focus of the students. It was also beneficial because the octagonal shape provided more square feet of inside space than either a rectangle or a square. Ventilation and lighting were also pertinent issues of the times, and an architectural structure with eight sides allowed for an opening in all sides of the building. The building’s thick walls helped it to retain heat during the cold months, which also helped provide insulation against the heat in the warm weather.

This simple one-room, one-story, brick octagon style building was constructed with a low pitch hipped roof banded by a plain narrow frieze. A circular brick chimney rises from the center of the standing seam metal roof. Also on the property are two free standing, wood frame, gable roofed outhouses.  Used as the Town of Dryden District Number 5 school until 1941, when pupils began attending other schools in Dryden, the building was used for a brief period as a community activity center and as an occasional site for field trips. By the early 1950’s the building had been declared surplus property, and it was in 1953 that ownership of the building and its lot was deeded to the Dewitt Historical Society for the sum of $10. The building, now a facility of the D.H. S. is on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2000 it became an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures.. Eight Square schoolhouse is located on Upper Hanshaw Road in Dryden, New York. Upper Hanshaw Road is approximately 1/4 mile East of the Tompkins County Regional Airport.

Gaines Schoolhouse, Gainestown, AL



Gaines Schoolhouse

Co. Rd. 29

Gainestown, AL

Gainestown in Clarke County, AL, was founded in 1809 by George Strother Gaines as a Choctaw-Creek trading post.  In the steamboat heydey, Gainestown was the largest river port between Mobile and Selma.  Gainestown’s first school, the Lambard School, was established in 1840. It eventually became Gainestown’s public school after the county started providing funds for schools in the 1880s. By 1900, the public school at Gainestown was located on the second floor of the Gainestown Methodist Church and shared quarters with the Gainestown Masonic Lodge. A March 1911 storm virtually destroyed the church and as a result, the Gainestown School needed a new home. Land for a new school was purchased in 1919 and a one-room school building was built. Carved into a stone foundation pier of the school building is the date October 3-4, 1919. It is believed that the entire community gathered on those two days and erected the building. A second room was added to the school in 1930. The Gainestown School was in continuous use until September 1952 when the County decided that it had become too small. At that time only six students were enrolled. The Gainestown School served students in grades 1 through 8 and they then moved on to one of the larger high schools in the county. After the school closed, the citizens of Gainestown petitioned the Clarke County School Board to deed them the school property for use as a community center. The Board agreed, and it was used as a local gathering place and voting precinct until the 1980s when the building had deteriorated to such a point that it was unusable. In 1989, the property was purchased by the Finlay family who own the Wilson-Finlay House that’s located directly across the road from the school and the building was restored in 1990. The Gainestown Schoolhouse is a good example of an early 20th-century, two room schoolhouse. Although it has undergone significant restoration, it still retains most of its original features such as its form, framing members, weatherboards, windows and many interior features including the stage. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1992.  It is privately owned.