Abandoned Schoolhouse

This fall, young students, nervous about their first day of school, won’t be walking down the road towards this one room schoolhouse.

They won’t greet friends in the schoolyard.

They won’t be climbing the creaky wooden steps, lunchpails in hand.

They won’t wonder where they are supposed to sit.

They won’t see the piano and be excited about music class.

No student will be scolded by the teacher for gazing out this window.

Students won’t be dismissed here or run excitedly out the front door.

And no one will make a quick stop at the outhouse before heading home.

I shouldn’t be sad when I see old abandoned schoolhouses like this one in northwest Nebraska, but I do.  I think about how many students must have started and completed their education, all in one room. I think about the young ladies who worked long days teaching all the grades and all the subjects, by themselves.

Times change, and people move on. Change is part of life and I get that.

But I’m still sad when I see this.

How about you? Did you or anyone you know attend a one room schoolhouse?


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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46 Responses

  1. Lynda M O says:

    There are many schoolhouses scattered across northern California that look similar to the condition of the one you show us here. Schools more recently built look like industrial buildings whose corridors and classrooms contain no windows to the outdoors.

  2. Sally Bishop says:

    I attended a two room school house for 1st and 2nd grade. There were 8 girls in my class. Grades 1-3 were in one room and 4-6 in the other. In third grade the district consolidated the rural schools. They still used the old school buildings but there was one grade in each classroom. Not until I was in junior high did the district build a new school and bussed everyone in to one town. Boy do I feel old 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      Don’t feel old. Much of Kansas had many one room schools until the 50s, and Nebraska was even later than that. I used to think the schoolhouses weren’t used past the late 1800s and was surprised to learn otherwise.

  3. What wonderful photos you took. I love old fashioned touch. I do a lot of imagining as well when I see something like this. I always thought that I thought much more about it than others, but I can see there are people like me that think of all of this stuff as well. It’s like I can hear the screams and laughter and the pounding a shoes running on the wooden floor as they run out the door to freedom because the school day is over! I mentioned in one of your other school house posts that my father in law went to school in a one room school house in West Virginia…remember, he accidentally burnt the school down when he lit the fire in the morning to heat the school..that was his job every morning when it was cold. Well, it technically wasn’t his fault, I believe a flame or spark came out of the chimney and caught the roof on fire or something to that affect.

    • Suzanne says:

      I remember you telling me the story of your father in law. It must have been so traumatic for him, even though it wasn’t his fault.

  4. Rosanne says:

    My husband and his seven siblings attended a one room school which was located in a meadow near their home. It is no longer there, but the field is still called the school house field. My brother-in-law and my husband put up the hay in the field. The one room school was abandoned in 1959 and the kids had to ride the school bus to a nearby elementry school 8 miles away.

  5. Mary says:

    My dear granny went ti a one room school deep in the hollers of KY. She took us there to see it and it was half the size of your school house. She had to walk three miles one way. And it was not flat land, it was steep mountains with deep valleys. So those kids really wanted to get an education! Think of the kids today, there is no way they would have that type of commitment.

    • Suzanne says:

      Six miles round trip each day. No wonder all the kids were pencil thin back then. And probably healthier too.

  6. Pam K. says:

    LOVE this! Your photos really catch the spirit of the place. Old abandoned buildings also make me think of all the living that took place in them over the years. And being a retired school teacher myself, it’s not hard to imagine the students of yesteryear, busy with their learning activities in this old schoolhouse.

  7. Tina says:

    Students now days wouldn’t walk across the street at least in the big city I live in. Although I never went to a one room schoolhouse I did live in the country and the world is a better place there.So Mama’s DO let your babies grow up to be cowboys! Suzanne beautiful pictures as always and I love the sepia.

  8. Tami says:

    Wonderful photos. I love looking at old buildings or antique items and wondering who used them or how they looked in their hay-day.

    Pioneer Woman is hosting a contest of black/white pictures. You really should enter some of these. Especially the close-up shot of the piano keys. It’s gorgeous.

  9. Jo Anne says:

    great pics. remind me of the old MeadowBrook Scool I attended as a child.the Kindergarden was held on the stage, 1-4 was in one room and 5-8 in the other. There was a kitchen downstairs. (early ’50s)

  10. Darlene says:

    In my district I attended a two room schoolhouse for 7th grade only. I loved that building. Of course it is gone now.

    • Suzanne says:

      Smaller class sizes were probably the biggest reasons people look back fondly at these old schools, don’t you think? Too bad you weren’t able to go to your schoolhouse longer.

  11. Nancy says:

    I attended a country school in the San Joaquin Valley of Calif. The original school was one room. When I attended, a second 2 room building had been added. Sometimes there were enough kids for 3 rooms/teachers. Mostly, we divided up in the 2 room school: Primary grades and upper grades through 8. The 2 teachers had been there long enough to teach children of previous students. It was excellent education. There were 2 boys and 7 girls in my 8th grade class. To go to the large high school, we were bused into town. I look back on those school years fondly. What a wonderful experience! School was consolidated soon after I graduated. Buildings now gone.

  12. Sarah Lynn says:

    So eerie, but beautiful at the same time. 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but if I did, I would certainly feel them in abandoned buildings.

  13. Tanya says:

    Love the pictures and descriptions! I also imagine what life was like when buildings were newer. Too bad someone doesn’t try to convert this to a home. What beautiful countryside.

  14. Sonya says:

    Beautiful! I love seeing places that are abandoned and left mostly in their original state. I can’t believe they left the piano!
    My dad and aunt went to a one room school. I bet his teacher was thrilled he was there to “educate” the younger kids.

  15. Kathy says:

    What wonderful pictures! I am like the rest of you, imagining the kids running through the door at the end of the day, the lives that were touched and changed there, the learning that took place. Sort of sad to see it all go even though things have to change.

  16. Janet says:

    Thank you again for the photography. The one room school I and my sisters attended was near Blackwolf, Ks. Eight rows of desks,one grade per row. There were three of us in 1st grade. It was the eighth grade boys job to make a fire in the pot bellied stove in the winter. I couldn’t believe it when we moved to town and the bathroom was inside, and had a lock on the door.

  17. Doe of Mi. says:

    Geez, that looks awhole lot like the school I attended in kindergarden and first grade. Our family had moved from city to farm the year before. So the next year(1945 or 46) I started school in the one room walk to school. I was lucky it was only 1/4 a mile.
    I remember alot of the kids and Mrs. Sonders the sweet teacher. Then my Mom and Dad split and Mom took My brother and I to another town to live that had a big school and I felt lost there. What a big change that was after knowing everybody in school. The one room was alot of fun indoors and out, besides learning your own school work you could hear the older kids work and learn some of that. Lots of memories from there and the farm. My sister and I still talk about that time and laugh or cry.

    • Suzanne says:

      That must have been so hard for you to switch to the big school. Glad you and your sisters can share memories of that time though.

  18. Tracey M says:

    I’m reading a wonderful book by Jerry Apps called Every Farm Tells a Story. He shares some neat stories about the one-roomed school house he attended as a child. It’s amazing the school house you found is still standing, and still has that piano in there!

  19. Glyndalyn says:

    Love the old school.

  20. Melanie says:

    I always wonder about things like that too. .sure love the photos! You can almost hear the breeze rustling the tall grass as you stand in that open door!

  21. Becky L. says:

    Thanks for the old school house post. I feel sad that nobody took the piano out to play elsewhere! I believe my dad went to a one room school house. He had to walk to it. Schools are so different now, in buildings and classroom. It’s good to remember what we had in the past and you did a great job helping us remember it.

  22. Edith says:

    Unfortunately “Change” is not part of life……it’s supposed to be “Stability” that is part of life. You’re sad, and I’m sad at the loss of how things should be.

    The old things of bygone days are cast aside for the new.

    I also live in Kansas…..and it’s sad to see all the old just left to rot!

    But…………we have CHANGE! No it’s not right whatsoever.

    My Father went to a one room Schoolhouse, so did my Mother. Things sure have changed in the last 100 years! Hum…only took 100 years to wipe out a way of life that had been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.

  23. Mandy says:

    If only those walls could talk, we could hear some very interesting stories!

  24. Thomas W. Muther, Jr. says:

    Another nice find. Just an FYI, there were some one-room schoolhouses that remained open until the 60’s in KS. Just a suggestion–you might give the exact (in as much as you’re capable of doing so) location of the interesting places you photograph. Northwest Nebraska covers a fair amount of territory. That corner of NE is a bit out of my roaming area, but one never knows. Cheers!

    PS. My Mom attended a one-room schoolhouse as a small child just west of N. Topeka.

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