From 1947 to 1955 I attended Sheldon School, a one-room country school in Marquette County, Wisconsin. I haven’t been able to track down a photograph of Sheldon School from those days, and I haven’t found another school that closely resembles it. The image, though, remains fixed in my memory. It was larger than the one pictured in the photograph below, from a website about John Muir, who lived in the area for several years during his childhood.
For one thing, there were cement steps leading to the front door of the white-framed building. It was larger too – a coatroom at the entrance, separated by a wall from the classroom. At the back of the classroom was a huge woodburning furnace, which kept us warm in the winter months. On the wall opposite the furnace was a water cooler and a place for us to put our lunch boxes.
“In the Wisconsin heyday of the one-room school, about 6,200 were operating in rural areas across the state, said Dale Williams, site director of the Reed School in Neillsville, which today is a historic site operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. “They hit their peak in the 1930s, Williams said. “By the 1960s, they were virtually all gone. A few tiny schools remain in the state, including one on Madeline Island, but most have vanished or been transformed into museums, gift shops, bed-and-breakfasts and the like.” (from Madison.com) In the case of Sheldon, the school was remodeled in the 1960s as an attractive country home for the in-laws of George Robinson (my classmate, named in the story) and is now owned by George and his wife, Christine.
For other photographs of one-room country schoolhouses, see: