A conference on preserving Iowa’s one and two-room schoolhouses opens today in Ames. Bill Sherman, a spokesman for the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, says there are people with a variety of interests in the schools.
He says some have already preserved schools, others are just starting to preserve them, while others have comprehensive programs with schools turned into museum. Sherman says the conference lets everyone network and talk about ways to save the one-room schools and preserve them. Sherman says the number of one or two-room schools peaked at 12,623 in 1901.
Sherman says most of the operating schools have closed, but there are still 57 one-room schools operated in the state, mostly by the Amish, Mennonites, or private religious groups. There are seven public one-room schools run for Amish children in Buchanan County for the Wapsie Valley and Jesup school districts. Sherman says there are several former schools across the state that have been preserved.
He says there are close to 200 with new projects coming on-line all the time, with new projects in the works in Spencer, Vinton and Washington. He says there are one-room school museums in 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Sherman says there are many reasons for wanting to save these buildings that were once a part of every day life.
Sherman says some people had positive experiences in those schools and they want to maintain that and share it with others, while some just feel it’s important historically to preserve the schools. The conference runs through Saturday and will also include a tour of restored schools along the Lincoln Highway in Ames, Nevada, State Center and Marshalltown. For more information on the one and two-room schools, visit the website of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance .