One-room school is open for summer in Oak Park Heights

  • Updated: June 29, 2013 - 4:14 PM
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Children and adults are welcome to visit the restored McKean School, a one-room schoolhouse that opened southwest of Bayport in 1864. It housed grades 1-8 for 76 years.

McKean School, a one-room schoolhouse that started life in 1864 southwest of Bayport, has been restored and is now open to visitors at the Boutwells Landing Senior Center campus in Oak Park Heights at 5600 Norwich Pkwy., according to Bob Rupp.

The school housed first- through eighth-graders from Stillwater for 76 years as District 19. A few years ago it was moved to Boutwells, where senior residents painted it, polished it, installed 18 desks and an 1878 Steinway upright piano. They also added, three blackboards, bookshelves, four vintage kerosene wall-bracket lamps with reflectors, a wash basin, linen roller towel, and a space-heater stove.

A new bell tower was built, complete with bell and bell rope. A new front porch leads to the two entrance doors — one for girls, the other for boys. A free-standing flagpole and flag were added.

McKean School is open, free, to all visitors from noon until 2 p.m. on the first and third Sundays starting July 7 through Sept. 15.

Children can ring the bell. Parents can sit in the desks, some of which are large enough for adults because some older students, kept out of school in the spring and fall to help with planting and harvest, were adults by the time they finished the eighth grade.

Boutwells residents, some of whom went to the one-room school, will be on hand to answer questions and tell how each class recited in turn, with younger students learning beyond their grade by listening as older ones reported at the front of the room.

At District 19, the school board chairman’s wife cleaned the school room once a month. Class size was 14 in 1928, but dropped to eight to 10 in the mid-1930s. Teacher Thelma Swanson Cutler was paid $55 per month from 1934 to 1937, when her salary was raised to $60. She abided by a strict set of rules, which are posted on the back wall.

Jim Anderson

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