One-Room School Houses Still in Operation in NH
Yep, they're still around in New Hampshire
Illustration by bic parker
The thought of walking five miles, uphill both ways, in the snow and without shoes may just be a legend, but the one-room schoolhouses grandfathers across the country were apparently walking to are not. New Hampshire is in fact home to possibly the oldest one in the country.
"That's what they say in Croydon and nobody has contested that claim so far," Stephen Taylor, one-room schoolhouse expert and state commissioner of agriculture emeritus. "The Red School, which is a brick school in Croydon in Sullivan County, reports to be the longest continuously operating one-room schoolhouse, in use since 1794."
"You hear those stories of the eight-mile walk to school," Taylor jests. "In fact, a one-room schoolhouse would only serve a one- to three-mile radius because that was all that a first grader could be imagined to walk." It makes sense — the children going to these schools were not dropped off by mini-van. Everyone walked.
Another one-room schoolhouse still in operation in the state is The Blue School in Landaff in Grafton County. Both schools house each town's kindergarten through third grade. "The schools were valued because they were local," Taylor says. "People knew all the parents and the children. By today's standards, they were quite progressive."
Although the state did not mandate how long the school year would be, children across the state were being educated similarly. "You'd have schools on the mountainside that might only keep school for five or six weeks a year but other schools in the village might keep school for 30. The curriculum, though, was surprisingly fairly uniform with grammar, penmanship, history and arithmetic," Taylor says.
When cars made their debut and enrollment began to decline, the popularity of one-room schoolhouses went by the wayside. The Red School and the Blue School must have noticed some benefits to the one-room school style because their towns have chosen to keep them around.
"The sentiment and impulse is very strong and continuous just as it was a century ago," Taylor says. "They could easily close the doors and ship the children elsewhere for school but they value the local school thing."
These one-room schoolhouses may be closed for class, but various historical societies have preserved them for visitors.
Indian Stream Historic School House
Madison Corner School
District Schoolhouse No. 1
District No. 5 School
E. Washington, 1849-1937
Distict No. 1 Schoolhouse