Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64

Another Day with Larry

One Room Schools
Part One
The one room school houses were the community center as well as the school. Parties, cake walks, and Christmas programs were held in them. Regular worship services were held in many of them as well revivals, weddings, and funerals. I have heard of classes being interrupted to hold a funeral in a one room school house.

Most one room school houses were oriented with the long side running north and south with the entrance on either end. There was usually a small enclosed entry about 6 by 6 feet at the entrance. The east side had several windows to take advantage of the morning sun light.

Most had a cloak room about 6 feet wide across one end of the building. It had shelves and pegs or hooks to hang coats. The drinking water supply was kept there. It was usually an enameled bucket with a dipper used by everyone. More progressive schools had a stone ware jar with a spigot on the bottom and a tin cup. Some schools even had disposable paper cups for the students.

A coal house and two out houses completed the construction.

The east wall was lined with windows while the west wall had a long black board. It usually had pull down maps above it. There was always large sample cursive letters, both capital and small case, for the entire alphabet above the black board. The room was heated by a large pot bellied coal stove. It was lit by 3 or 4 Aladdin kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling. Each lamp produced the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent bulb so the room wasn’t very bright on cloudy days.

The only furniture was the teacher’s desk and chair at the front of the room and the student desks. Student desks were two-part with the seat in front of the desk top. Each student used the writing surface of the desk in front of him which was occupied by another student. The seats were hinged and could be folded up. The desk top was hard maple tongue-and-grooved with a round hole for an ink well and a groove to hold pencils. The tops were not very smooth. Generations of students left their initials carved into them.

The floors were tongue-and-grooved hardwood with an oil finish. I remember the floor being refinished at the Ware’s Ridge building. I think I can remember the scent of linseed oil from the floor. The walls were tongue-and-grooved hardwood, wider boards. They may have been random width. The walls were painted, I think with two colors, white or ivory above the chair rail with a pastel below it. The ceilings were tongue-and-grooved two-inch hardwood painted white. With all that hardwood and with the square box-like shape, the acoustics were awful.

Those buildings were structurally very sound. With roof replacements and minimal outside maintenance, they would last forever.

One Room Schoolhouse Center

One-Room School House at
The West Virginia State Farm Museum

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