Country Schools

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The country school is an American icon. Once ubiquitous across Iowa's landscape, one- two-room country schools are quickly disappearing. Although a few in Amish communities are still in educational use, nearly every historic country school in Iowa has been repurposed. Luckily, many have been reused as country school museums, giving children today a lesson in Iowa's educational history. Preservation Iowa is dedicated to preserving the state's country schools. Board member William Sherman is the organization's resident expert on country schools and organizes a country school conference each fall, bringing together country school preservationists from across the Midwest.

Country School: One Room—One Nation

Preservation Iowa is proud to sponsor a new documentary on country schools, Country School: One Room - One Nation globe icon. The one-hour documentary was produced over a three-year period by Fourth Wall Films, an independent award-winning film company operated by Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Moline, Illinois.

Iowa One Room Schools Blog

Glenn and Jill Chatfield have been touring eastern Iowa and documenting Iowa's one-room country schools during their travels. We're pretty impressed by their blogspot and think you will be, too. Visit the Iowa One Room Schools blog globe icon to see some great schoolhouse photos and find out the current state of Iowa's country schools.

Iowa's Country School Conference

Each year, Preservation Iowa sponsors an annual Iowa country school conference featuring speakers from across the country. A perfect venue for networking with other country school enthusiasts, the two-day conference typically features a full day of educational sessions followed by a day touring nearby country schools.

  • The 12th Annual Iowa One-Room School House Conference: Preserving Country Schools will be held October 7-8, 2011, Creston, Iowa. Download the brochure ( 480.15 KB).
  • The 11th annual Iowa country school preservation conference was held October 8-9, 2010, in Maquoketa, Iowa. View a slideshow of images from this conference (photos courtesy Don Wentworth and Bill Sherman). Susan Fineman with the Country School Association of America also shared her YouTube video with us (above).
  • Celebrating 10 Years of Country School Preservation, Oct. 2-3, 2009, Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Independence, Iowa.
  • Perceptions of the Country School: the 9th annual Iowa country school conference, Oct. 10-11, 2008, Ames, Iowa. View a slideshow of images from this conference courtesy Susan Fineman, a board member of the Country School Association of America.
  • 8th Annual Country School Conference, Oct. 5-6, 2007, Johnson County Historical Society Museum in Coralville.

Iowa's Country School Directory

The information in this directory was collected over several years. The information came from surveys that were filled out and returned. Some efforts were made to confirm information, but we have not double-checked everything. We assumed the information given in the surveys was accurate. Please check with the contact listed before making a long, special trip to visit a school site. This websiste will be updated as information is collected, so please contact either Preservation Iowa or Bill Sherman at 1-800-434-2039 or wsherman41@gmail.com with any incorrect information you discover, whether it is your museum site or not.

There are hundreds of former one-room schools that have been turned into businesses, and thousands are in use as homes. This directory is only of those schools that are being preserved as museums. The schools are organized by Tourism area (Western, Central, Eastern), and then alphabetically by county and township school name (e.g. Newport #3), where available. The parent organization is listed under the name of the school. The years listed after the school name are the time period depicted at the museum. Schools with a narrower time period normally give more focused and accurate information.

Tour the schools:
Western Touring Area (45 sites)
Central Touring Area (44 sites)
Eastern Touring Area (67 sites)
One-Room Schools - non-museums (4 sites)

Acknowledgements

Preservation Iowa wishes to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey that makes this guide possible and the many people who gave us suggestions. This project is funded, in part, by a grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Community Cultural Grant Program.

(July 2002)